Executive Functioning Resources for School Psychologists: A Coffee Chat with Sarah Ward

I’m forever on the hunt for fabulous executive functioning resources for school psychologists to use when working with students or consulting with parents and teachers. Since executive functioning is a skill that develops well into our young adulthood, we can’t expect kids to think like adults when it comes to planning, organizing, and following through on tasks. And like any skill, some kids need more help than others. Some kids are born to go to Staples and color code everything, some need some coaching, and some will need a lot of coaching for a loooooong time.

In my Thriving School Psychologist Collective online course and community for school psychologists, we work together to find the very best resources for our students. In a recent private forum thread, the topic of executive functioning came up because we are finding that there are a lot of resources on what it looks like when students show executive functioning deficits, but not a lot out there on what typical executive functioning looks like. Moreover, there’s a lot of “what is executive functioning” and not a lot of “what are practical ways to teach executive functioning?”*

And then…serendipity! In the private forum, one member of the Collective mentioned that she saw Sarah Ward do a great presentation on executive functioning and I was reminded of her great work from ages ago when I saw her speak. Then, I kid you not, when I looked her up, she was speaking in my area THAT WEEK. So I reached out to her so that me and my group of awesome Thriving School Psychologists could learn more about how to help students with executive functioning challenges. And because she’s awesome, she agreed to sit down with me for my Thriving School Psychologist Coffee Chat!

Seriously, how cool is that timing? So without further ado, Sarah Ward shares her favorite executive functioning resources for school psychologists!


48:I talk about the school psychologist’s role in assessing executive functioning
1:10: Sarah introduces herself and her work on how to teach everyday strategies for building executive functioning
2:30: I ask Sarah how you can tell what is typical vs. atypical executive functioning
3:09: Sarah presents a “new view of executive functioning” that moves beyond organizing planners and backpacks
4:45: Sarah talks about the “Mind Mime” concept and why pre-imagining is so important for building executive functioning.
6:10: Sarah describes why having a “time horizon” is so important for time management
6:56: I share one of my favorite Sarah Ward quotes about time management that I use in consultation all the time
7:53: Sarah gives advice for how to help teens with scheduling and making an agenda
9:30: Sarah talks about why analog clocks are so important for time management and efficiency
11:25: I ask about tech tools/apps for time management vs. analog clocks for building meta-cognition and time management
13:40: Sarah gives a great tip for teachers to use during whole-class instruction to build student’s time management and support differentiation
16:20: Sarah tells us where school psychologists can go for more resources: www.efpractice.com.

Many thanks to Sarah for her time!

*[Shameless plug alert! Shameless plug alert!] Besides my book, obvi.

Executive Functioning Resources for School Psychologists: A Coffee Chat with Sarah Ward from Rebecca Branstetter on Vimeo.

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Comments on Executive Functioning Resources for School Psychologists: A Coffee Chat with Sarah Ward

  1. AnnMarie Montanti says:

    I am a school based OT who has been asked to consult on a child due to parental concerns that their child has difficulties with executive functioning. She has a dx of attention deficit disorder and is in the 5th grade learning remotely.

    I would like to provide the appropriate supports to this parent. In my experience I have worked in previous Districts where the school psychologist has shared info on a student’s difficulty with executive functioning and I, as the OT, have collaborated on strategies / interventions to support them during OT.

    Can you please clarify if assessing executive functioning is the typical domain of a school psychologist? I am having difficulty finding this clarification in my on line searches.

    Thank you for your feedback.

    1. Rebecca says:

      Hi AnnMarie. There’s so much overlap in who assesses and supports EF skills! I think of EF delays as a non-specific “symptom” that has many different root causes. (In the same way “fatigue” is a symptom of many different problems). Those root causes may be learning, attention, emotional, physical, situational, or social, and depending on what it is, which can guide who is best suited to address. I think the school psych role is particularly skilled at uncovering the root challenges but certainly there are other professionals who often need to be looped in. It’s a commercial for a multidisciplinary approach, I suppose! 🙂

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