Executive Function: Addressing Emotion through Communication

Students’ emotional responses to challenging situations can influence their concentration, perseverance, application of learned skills, and interactions with others. Abraham Maslow’s expanded hierarchy of needs explains how physical and emotional safety must be satisfied in order to allow people to address cognitive and higher levels of human needs. In order to better create space for student learning, teachers can develop classroom environments in which students feel safe and supported. Beyond physical safety, structured routines and clear expectations can alleviate anxiety. Furthermore, by validating students’ challenges and acknowledging their accomplishments, teachers can enhance their students’ self-advocacy skills and encourage their efforts to work through difficulties and find success.

Even with safe and supportive classroom environments, students often have difficulty because they lack the communication skills to address challenging situations. Teachers can work with students on scripting, a strategy that helps students identify the challenge and their associated feelings about it, set a goal for addressing the challenge, and generate the language required to respond to the situation.

This resource offers suggestions and strategies that help address students’ difficulties.

For the full text of the Landmark Teaching Principles™, including “Include Students in the Learning Process,” click here.

Strategies to Download:

Executive Function and Emotion: Create Supportive Spaces

These ideas for creating supportive learning environments can help address students’ need for emotional safety and enhance their learning.


Executive Function and Emotion: Script Difficult Conversations

This explanation and these examples of difficult conversations can help students move beyond emotion to address challenging issues.


Let us know what you think! Email to share your thoughts and strategies.

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