Training Spotlight: Free Modules on the Unstuck & On Target! Executive Function CurriculumNovember 1, 2022
Supporting students’ executive function skills—including flexibility, emotional regulation, goal-setting, persistence, and organizational skills—is one of the most important things teachers can do to help students succeed. The popular Unstuck & On Target! curriculum helps educators explicitly teach essential executive function skills—and now there’s a FREE online Elementary Educator Training to help you learn all about this curriculum and how to put it into action.
Today we’re welcoming Lauren Kenworthy and the Unstuck development team to talk about the benefits of this flexible online training. Lauren also shared some great quotes from educators who have tried the curriculum and the training modules. Read on for our conversation, and then access the modules at the end of the post!
Q. First, for readers who may be unfamiliar with the Unstuck & On Target! curriculum, could you give a brief introduction to it and tell us why it’s a must-have for schools?
A. Unstuck is a set of easy-to-use tools that employ cognitive behavioral techniques to improve flexibility, planning, and organization for elementary school students. It consists of small-group (Tier 2) lessons and simple, everyday strategies that build a common language for better regulation of feelings, behavior, and thinking. Research shows that Unstuck helps children with autism or ADHD become more flexible problem solvers, with better abilities to follow directions, make transitions, and avoid meltdowns and negativity. It creates calmer classrooms and students who are more available for learning.
What educators say about Unstuck…
“This is exactly the type of intervention needed to support our academically higher but dysregulated kiddos with ASD and ADHD.”
“We all need this vocabulary. We all need these tools.”
“(Unstuck) worked great with many students who struggled emotionally.”
“The skills that Unstuck and On Target! teaches students are incredibly valuable. This curriculum works well with the school-wide behavior model.”
Q. You developed these free online training modules for Unstuck through a grant, right? Could you tell us a little bit about that, and how it came about?
A. Yes. The federal Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) funded us (DI-2019C2-17605) to develop the free online educator training modules. This was after we completed a large comparative effectiveness trial (PCORI AD-1304-7379) in low-income schools that showed that Unstuck improved students’ executive function, and that it could be delivered effectively by all kinds of school staff. PCORI was so impressed with the effectiveness of Unstuck that it funded the development of the free online training modules so that elementary school educators all over the nation could learn how to implement Unstuck in their classrooms. With PCORI support, we were able to work with a team of educators, clinicians, parents, and an autistic self-advocate to develop the online training and collect data on the acceptability of the training from more that 160 educators who tried it out.
Q. For schools using Unstuck & On Target!, what are the main benefits of the online training modules?
A. The training modules give educators tools for recognizing executive function challenges in their students, and putting simple supports in place that reduce overwhelm in the classroom. They also show teachers in action using Unstuck skills and teaching students Unstuck key words and strategies that can become a common language of self-regulation in schools. The majority (96%) of educators in our project found the training useful and relevant. That feedback is a testament to our team’s efforts to make sure these resources were created and validated as usable, approachable, and actionable for everyone who needs them.
What educators said about the online training:
“This has potential to completely turn my campus around.”
“I loved how the modules were divided and allowed me to take the course in sections.”
“The training gave me a greater understanding of what is the underlying issue causing the difficulties students are having.”
“As a school psychologist, I can use this training to better consult with teachers on some strategies they can implement in the classroom to help their students.”
Q. Since many of today’s educators are engaged in hectic juggling acts, how much of a time commitment are the training modules? Are they relatively easy to fit into a teacher’s busy schedule?
A. The whole training takes approximately 3 hours to complete. It is asynchronous and divided into short modules and gives educators complete flexibility about where and when they access it. They can complete it all at once or in many small chunks.
Q. Can teachers earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) by completing this online training?
A. Yes! The educators in our project spent 3 hours completing the modules on average, and completers of the training are awarded 3.5 CEU hours. Currently we are able to provide the CEU credits as well as the training for free.
Q. You’ve also developed some free parent videos to help families of kids who struggle with executive function skills. Could you talk a little about those? What are the main takeaways/benefits for parents?
A. PCORI also funded the creation of free, three- to five-minute caregiver videos that stand alone as introductions to executive function challenges and how to support a child who is struggling with inflexibility, disorganization, and overwhelm. The videos also pair very effectively with the school-based Unstuck curriculum and give educators an easy way to engage parents in supporting Unstuck at home. There are 12 videos in English (one hour total content) and five in Spanish. They were created using both animation and caregiver and expert interview formats.
One hundred and two caregivers of elementary-age students with ADHD or autism reviewed the videos and provided feedback, which we used to improve the video experience. Overall the caregivers found the videos to be helpful and informative, and to increase their understanding of their children’s challenges and how to support them.
What parents said about the videos:
“The videos made me feel less alone. They reminded me that my son’s behavior is ‘normal’ within the spectrum and hopeful that there are more things I can try to help him.”
“They really helped me understand it’s not defiance but more of executive functioning. Taking a different approach instead of arguing makes things so much better.”
Thanks to the Unstuck & On Target! development team for introducing these invaluable free resources for teachers and parents. If you’re committed to supporting your students’ executive function skills, here are some next steps to take:
Learn more about the proven curriculum and order it for your classroom.
ACCESS FREE TRAINING
Start your Unstuck training and get CEUs with these flexible free modules.
SHARE PARENT VIDEOS
Give parents the link to these free videos on supporting executive function skills.