ADHD Coach Connect

Who is the Boss of YOUR Brain?

   #4 Steps to Beginning the digital-brain-neuronsJourney of Self-Regulation through Reflection

In my many years as an educator and Intervention Specialist, I was presented with multiple teaching strategies, models and goals adapted by the districts to be implemented.  Whether the pedagogy included formative or summative assessment, multi-sensory methods, differentiated instruction, self-discovery, or the many other methods and styles out there, the objective was always student growth and achievement.


As I grow each year within my coaching career, the objective remains the same, but…here comes Metacognition along for the ride.  Meta what?  Thinking about what you are thinking about, or a self- analysis of who are you, a reflection to judge our own progress.

Why the emphasis on Meta?  It really is so simple but we never really introduced or presented its framework to students.  Look at it this way; as our children/students grow, we want them to learn and ultimately be independent and advocate for themselves.  As a coach, I guide them to a better understanding of their brain, their learning style and “HOW” to achieve that.  Understanding one’s brain and its plasticity is a key in taking charge of your own brain.  Reaching potential of learning requires understanding how one learns best but, in doing so, “thinking smarter or thinking about what you are thinking about!”

By incorporating Metacognition, “it supports learning by actively thinking about what cognitive strategies can help achieve learning, how we should apply those strategies, how we can review our progress, and whether we need to adjust our thinking.” (Baker, 2013; Dunlosky and Metcalf, 2009; Hattie, 2009; Wang, Haertel and Walberg, 1993).

“The self-system is an interconnected network of beliefs that helps a person to make sense of the world and decide what goals and tasks to pursue. Harry Stack Sullivan first developed the concept of a self-system in 1953 in which he described it as the individual’s collection of self-perceptions.

When learning, a presenting task (or the task at hand) passes through our self-system. If the presenting task is judged as important and doable, then the learner is normally motivated to engage in the presenting task or goal.  However, if the task is presented as low-relevance or a low probability of success, then a negative effect is generated and motivation for task engagement is low (Harter, 1980; Markus, Ruvulo, 1990). Thus, we will steer our efforts to other interests.”

When the brain is wired ADD or ADHD it is actually UNDER stimulated so low interest tasks are replaced with anything and everything that can draw the brains attention.  Therefore, employing Metacognition techniques and practice of them can help stay on task, complete tasks and achieve self-regulation; the ultimate goal of the ADD/ADHD brain.

ADHD wiring can present itself differently in every single individual and completion of these tasks can be tough and especially, around the holidays every day can be debilitating.   There are those who can make goals and implement the action goals to get there quickly and efficiently.   But, there are many in our world; relatives, good friends and perhaps yourself who struggle each and every day with what is perceived as simple tasks.

Metacognition works round the clock with your cognitive Self-System!  While your SELF is figuring out the task at hand, process needed to get it completed; “Meta” is your own accountability system!

Brown and DeLoache (1978) state that Metacognition refers to the ability to reflect on one’s performance. When one lacks the ability to self-analyze or reflect on themselves, surroundings and progress, the expectation of achievement, to plan or to self-regulate efficiently is diminished.

So, if it’s the holidays you need to survive or everyday living, here are some steps to build on your reflection and the ultimate goal of Self-Regulation!

Fundamental questions can guide you through a task:

  1. What is my objective?  Whether it’s a learning goal or getting your holiday shopping completed, what does one want to accomplish?  Implementing a structure of what exactly it is to be accomplished gives a goal to achieve.
  1. How am I going to achieve this? Do you have a plan that utilizes strategies that make sense to YOUR brain?  YOU are the boss of your brain so knowing what works for you determines the best road map to implement.  Are you visual and do you need to charting this out?  Are you going to be able to do this on your own or do you need support along the way?
  •  How will I know I have it right? As a student in academia, one can utilize resources, fellow students, online works, etc.  As an adult, how can you gauge the progress?  Do you see a change? Do you need support to see progress?
  •  Does this new content/process blend in with what I know and can I apply this to other situations? In working this process with a student studying for exams, I asked her to teach me a skill from Tae Kwon Do, something she excels in.  She explicitly walked me through this skill and then we introduced how to “template” that into her studying!

 Most of us are not naturally meta-cognitive but this initial framework of steps can find those struggling or those performing at a high level to benefit from implementation of them.  It’s not the end to all but only a beginning step towards change and positive learning and goal achievement.

Judy A. MacNamee is founder and ADHD Coach of ADHD CoachConnect and works with clients all over the U.S. ages 12 up through adults.  Located in Columbus, OH, Judy is a former teacher and now trained and certified coach loving every minute of “making a difference.”