As a performance-based Special Educator and Executive Function Skills Coach it is imperative to have a healthy understanding of the best instructional practices, methods and strategies in relation to the students one coaches. Consequently, identifying and implementing practical, novel approaches that can be easily incorporated by students and their support system is a must. Not only that, being able to convey these in an understandable effective and efficient manner so that they are carried out successfully in the coaches absence is a priority.
In light of these points of frame, the search, experimentation, practice and polishing off of contextual activities buttressing the development of cranial connectivity between right and left hemispheres and the prefrontal cortex where our executive function skill abilities fire off is paramount to my work. To this end, the use of the below activities create a ‘back-door approach’ to distill the strenuous development of our cognitive skills.
- dancing (in most of its modalities)
- soccer (especially air dribbling)
- metacognitive conversation (thinking about our thinking)
- Creating and playing music (different from just listening to music)
There is a catch though: consistency is king. The brain is like a muscle that stays strong by smart toning. The list put together is not an exhaustive list either. There is a platitude of indirect, natural activities which serve the mind and body in a holistic fashion, such as walking or being in nature, fishing and simply going for a walk and talk with a father, a mother, a teacher or a friend.
It is by no great leap of the imagination that though I have primarily coached students with mild executive function skill deficits, those on the autism spectrum, with ADHD or emotional disorders, the same value of these contextual activities will serve typical folk, like for example, wounded combat veterans returning from the theater of war. There is a national project called the Wounded Warrior Project which does just that and has gained wide-spread international attention as a very viable pathway to revitalize combat veterans who have experienced the horrors of war by losing limbs, functional brain capacity or the more elusive, yet prevalent, post traumatic stress disorder.
In a recent television news segment I became very aware of the incredible positive impact that the Wounded Warrior Project is facilitating via the use of music and prosthetics! I witnessed veterans banding together to make music. There was more than hope in their face. What was seen was completely empowered individuals who were simply rocking out music, becoming entrepreneurs and being physically aided by the use of state-of-the-art prosthetics. They are making an incredible imprint on the social fabric of America and the world simply by standing out of the shadows, being economically empowered, grabbing guitars, trumpets and microphones and bringing their voices into harmony with each other. AS i watched the segment what came to my mind and heart was the thread of resilience, tenacity and indomitable will that makes America ‘America.’
It is mesmerizing to see these men and women veterans stand up rather than fade into the shadows. They ARE #HotterThanFireFor EachOther as they look forward not backward. I saw no victims, only heroes.
We have the Wounded Warrior Project to thank for this. An organization founded by the very soldiers it serves. All of these non-tangible life skills are the same skills taught and used to develop and empower each new generation of Americans, representing the strenuous empowerment of such cornerstone life skills as resilience, perseverance, compassion, empathy, humility, teamwork, leadership, mentoring and the growth mindset (focusing on bettering the process, rather than the end result). Just the right set of skills anyone needs to #FireOutOnAllPistons!