I've been doing some PD and teacher education on UDL and the one hurdle that I come across is introducing UDL in an accessible and accurate way. Hitting people with the checkpoints or guidelines early one can be a little overwhelming for them. I came up with a short presentation that begins with: "Think of a teacher who communicates clearly, sparks student interest, and cares about every student in his or her classroom."
Here's a short presentation that builds on that.https://docs.google.com/present/view?id=dhjdmfs_393gkm2kvsf hide
It might be helpful to connect UDL to the prior knowledge and experiences of teachers. Otherwise, I get the impression they think it's just another trend.
Hi Christopher -
I love your intro - it definitely pulls you into the discussion. Everyone can think of a teacher with good communication skills but no or few resources or tools. Thanks for sharing!
I recently asked a high school coach why some teams out perform other teams when the pool of athletes seem so similar. "It's because the coach was able to build and 'sell' a program to which the athletes adhered. The students did the scheduled workouts (versus adding their own or completely ignoring the workout schedule), worked out as a team and worked as a team, supported one another during times of difficulty and celebration, and they built on their knowledge. But, in the end, it's because of the coach. The coach holds it all together."
I share that because I think the story is analogous to the embedding of UDL within any educational environment. You need that singular leader who can focus energy on building a support system for teachers which includes training, teacher-specific examples, and the ability to share ideas/question/concerns. This person also needs to gain the support of the school district leaders (or the school leaders if the implementation is at an individual school level) and continue to "sell" the benefits and outcomes related to UDL.
A good coach rarely works alone. Similarly, quality leadership is often marked by one's ability to recruit other individuals whose skills match the needs of the endeavor. To successfully embed UDL, the person or persons who bring the idea to the district/school need to identify others who can help put into action trainings, the creation of teacher-specific examples, and the establishment of a teacher-focused collaborative environment (virtual, face-to-face, or both). In the school setting, I believe that last component is the most challenging.
The act of sustaining begins on day one. If you're not truly committed to sustaining the effort, why are you beginning? The leader(s) continue(s) to promote UDL, bring in information, and provide multiple examples and input on how it is an effective framework. The other individuals within the UDL camp continue to create, train, support, receive feedback, and improve on their offerings.
Scaling up also occurs at both of these levels. As UDL becomes a recognized guide for curricular design, educators are more likely to accept that UDL can guide all other curricular decisions. However, it takes the leader(s) to establish this connection.
The level of UDL-specific direct instruction/training will continue to evolve with district initiatives, state level mandates and federal changes. Though the instruction and training might change to meet the requirements placed on teachers by these entities, UDL remains the constant. The framework provides a stability to which teachers can connect and rely.
Fantastic insights, Loui - from one who's really been there doing it. I believe that implementation is about creating and building a team of passionate comrades who see the vision and help to support each other in accomplishing it. It's also true, I think, that a great leader quickly looks to expand the commitment horizontally so that should he or she leave, there are others prepared to step into the leadership role and carry on toward acheiving the vision. Too often, when a strong education leader moves on, no one steps in to carry the flag to the finish line. That tells me that the level of commitment was not deep enough or widespread enough within the school community.
What do others think?
The 'evocative title" part is a little intimidating, but I will re-post it just for you, Don. :)
I believe breaking down UDL principals into instructional practices, environment, classroom curriculum materials/resources, technology, etc and then focus on building teachers skills in each area in a structured manner is the best way to approach the development of UDL in schools. Having teachers learn one component at a time,building strong leaders in certain areas is the best way to approach this.