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5 minutes




Papers/journal, emotion/feeling words (can be brainstormed with students)


To develop students' ability to recognize that what they think affects how they feel and act

  • Periodically during the class or the week, ask students to:
    • stop what they are doing and to pay attention to their thoughts and/or emotions in that moment
    • write their observations down in a journal, where a journal is used in class
  • After students are able to jot down what they are thinking, ask them how they are feeling in that moment.
  • Finally, once students are comfortable with this practice, ask them to reflect on how these feelings might impact their actions.

Self-control and managing impulsivity are skills that are developed gradually. Even small improvements in these skills have the potential for significant long-term positive impacts for students and society as a whole. Diamond & Lee (2011) identify that children with strong self-control, less impulsivity, and better attention tend to have better health, earn more, and commit less crime than those who lack these skills. However, Ruiz (2014) found that young children exposed to trauma may be described by their teachers as disruptive and inattentive which may be mistaken as hyperactive. Educators must strive to be sensitive to the root factors which could be a response to an environmental stress [such as systemic racism and structural oppression].

Diamond, A., & Lee, K. (2011). Interventions shown to aid executive function development in children 4 to 12 years old. Science, 333(6045), 959-964.

Ruiz, R. (2014, July 7). How Childhood Trauma Could Be Mistaken for ADHD. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/07/how-childhood-trauma-could-be-mistaken-for-adhd/373328/