by Guest Blogger Donna Wilson
In the corporate world, the chief executive officer of a company is
responsible for making the highest-level decisions to ensure a
strategic, well-coordinated, and coherent course of action. Without such
a leader, the employees in the organization might scatter in a variety
of different directions and find themselves at cross-purposes instead of
working productively together toward the same goals.
In our new book, Teaching Students to Drive Their Brains: Metacognition Strategies, Activities, and Lesson Ideas,
we talk about the importance of executive function, which describes the
brain processes and mental faculties involved in goal setting, planning
and execution, reasoning, problem solving, working memory, and
We cite the work of Elkhonon Goldberg,
who applies the metaphor of a chief executive offer to the brain’s
frontal lobes and describes specifically how the prefrontal cortex plays
a central role in forming goals and objectives and devising plans of
action to obtain these goals.
understanding the way our brains work, teachers can assist students in
becoming more effective learners and thinkers. They can help their
students set learning goals, develop systematic plans, put those plans
into action, and, finally, evaluate how well they have accomplished
their goals. The aim should be to help students take charge of their
learning by harnessing the power of their brains’ executive functions.
is the power of metacognition, or thinking about one’s thinking, with
the aim of improving learning outcomes. Goldberg suggests that these
brain functions are the essence of our humanness: the ability to think
and, beyond that, to observe and monitor our thinking.
guiding students in developing these connections as they mature and
become increasingly more independent, teachers can help children and
teenagers become self-regulated learners across academic, social, and
Goldberg, E. (2009). The new executive brain: Frontal lobes in a complex world. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Wilson, D.L., & Conyers, M.A. (2016). Teaching Students to Drive Their Brains: Metacognition Strategies, Activities, and Lesson Ideas. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.