Dear Parents and Guardians,
I hope this message finds you well. I would like to begin by reminding everyone that thanks to the generosity of the McCall Parent Association (MPA) and Winchester’s Parent to Parent organization, we will have the opportunity to have Sarah Ward come to McCall to present to both the parent community and the middle school staff this Tuesday about executive function. Sarah is a renowned expert on this topic, and I am including her bio below for your reference.
When we talk about students’ executive functioning skills, we often think about their abilities to keep binders and backpack organized and to keep track of their assignments. However, executive function is broader than that. Executive function includes (but not limit to) one’s ability to plan ahead, to prioritize, to shift from one activity to another, and to monitor one’s behavior. Teaching executive function mirrors our school and district’s work to promote social emotional learning. Both are about teaching students how to be self-aware and how to self-regulate.
I have attended many of Sarah’s training sessions before, and the main reason I am a big fan of her work is because her approach to teaching executive function aligns with the backward design model to teaching and lesson planning (of which I am a big proponent). If you speak to Sarah about teaching executive function skills, you will hear her talk about how to help students visualize desired outcomes by helping them ask themselves questions such as, “What does a completed science project look like?” and “What does a person who is ready for the hockey practice look like?” When students are able to answer these questions, we can then help them work backwards and determine what are the steps they need to take in order to get to those desired outcomes. This way of thinking about executive function matches the work many of our teachers are doing with RULER anchor tools such as the class charter. Many of our teachers established classroom rules, expectations, and norms by asking students how they want to feel when they come to your classes and then worked backwards with them to determine how they should behave in order to achieve those pleasant feelings.
I hope you will join us Tuesday evening from 7:00-9:00 pm in the McCall auditorium to hear what Sarah has to say about executive function. I am confident you will find the session to be informative and practical. Please remember that the target audience for this event is parents and guardians not students, so I encourage you to leave your students at home that night. Lastly, I would like to recognize the timing of this event puts some of you in the difficult position of having to choose between coming and Yom Kippur observation. I regret that it turned out this way, but we had little flexibility due to Sarah’s schedule and our goal of aligning the teacher training to the parent information session. I will do my best to get the handout materials of the parent session to those of you who want them.
Thank you and I wish you a wonderful week.
McCall Middle School
Sarah Ward bio:
Sarah Ward, M.S., CCC/SLP has over 25 years of experience in diagnostic evaluations and treatment of executive dysfunction. Ms. Ward holds a faculty appointment at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions. Sarah is an internationally recognized expert on executive function and presents seminars and workshops on the programs and strategies she has developed with her Co-Director Kristen Jacobsen. Their 360 Thinking Executive Function Program received the Innovative Promising Practices Award from the National Organization CHADD. She has presented to and consulted with over 750 public and private schools in Massachusetts, across the United States and internationally.
Sarah Ward, M.S., CCC/SLP has over 25 years of experience in diagnostic evaluations and treatment of executive dysfunction. Ms. Ward holds a faculty appointment at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions where she provides instruction to graduate level students in the assessment and treatment of individuals with traumatic brain injury and other cognitive communication disorders. Sarah is an internationally recognized expert on executive function and presents seminars and workshops on the programs and strategies she has developed with her Co-Director Kristen Jacobsen. Their 360 Thinking Executive Function Program received the Innovative Promising Practices Award from the National Organization CHADD. She has presented to and consulted with over 500 public and private schools in Massachusetts and across the United States. Other awards received include: MGH Expertise in Clinical Practice Award, the Distinguished Alumni Award and the Faculty in Excellence Award from the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions (2002, 2011) and ACE award from ASHA 2013 and 2016.