Chapter 7: Becoming an Inclusive Educator

Like UDL, becoming an inclusive educator is a process. There are no "before and after" shots needed.  Change and growth is a sometimes subtle, sometimes dramatic, ongoing process. Your journey from where you are today in your understanding and application of UDL, and where you will be tomorrow, is as unique as you. Every strategy you try, every activity you implement gives you information and informs your next step.

 

In the book we invite you to SWIM: Start Where I aM :) To help you determine where you'll go next we created the UDL Planning Guide that focuses on three key areas for change:

  • Flexible Instructional Design

  • Deep Inquiry and Understanding

  • Ownership of Learning

The guide isn't intended to be used in a "Whac-A-Mole" approach or as a checklist but rather as a heuristic tool, guided by your personal inquiry, the needs of your students, and your understanding of UDL at this time. You can find the UDL Planning Guide in the Resources section of this website. 

Apps and Resources

UDL Whac-A-Mole game with the 9 UDL guidelines represented by a slot. A mole is popping up for self-regulation, language, math and symbols and physical action. The one for physical actions about to be hit.

Pause and Reflect

We've compiled the pause and reflect questions from the book into a Google Doc. 

 

Feel free to make a copy and work inside the document, or record your thoughts using another form of media. 

Chapter 7 - Pause and Reflect

Before Moving On

Given all that has happened recently, we wanted to explicitly call out the need to intentionally create an inclusive classroom culture and community. This classroom community is vital (perhaps more so in a virtual environment) if the true goal of UDL is to be achieved. Creating inclusion and honoring diversity will not happen without this foundation.

With this in mind, we want to take a moment to focus on building a strong classroom culture and community. Even before we examine our instructional practice, we need to ensure that we address the foundation of our classroom, the community of learners within it, and the connections to the wider community that surrounds it. Whether in person or online, the creation of this community needs to be everyone’s responsibility.


As you read through the UDL Planning Guide, there are several areas of focus under each category that support and enhance community building:

  • Flexible Instructional Design includes Learner Variability and the Physical, Virtual and Social Environment.

  • Deep Inquiry and Understanding includes Authentic Learning Opportunities and Collaborative Global Citizenship.

  • Ownership of Learning includes Personal Goal Setting, Learner Voice and Advocacy, and Learner Choice and Agency.


Use these areas of focus to check in regularly with yourself and your students. Building an inclusive classroom that honors diversity is an ongoing process that requires persistence and commitment. Weave it into the fabric of your instruction. Learners will remember their experience long after they’ve forgotten all the facts they were taught.

Remember that developing expertise in UDL isn’t merely a matter of working your way through each principle’s guidelines like a to-do checklist. UDL isn’t a “program” with step-by-step instructions, but rather a framework and a mindset. UDL asks us to accept responsibility for our role in creating “disabling” learning environments, and to proactively work towards creating more inclusive ones. 

 

Dive Into UDL (page 114)

Flexible Instructional Design

This category represents the traditional approach to implementing UDL. While this approach is necessary we believe implementation needs to go deeper. This section focuses on improving the goals, methods, materials and assessment that make up classroom instruction. We expanded the focus to include planning for the both the physical and social aspects of the classroom, moving beyond assessment as evaluation (summative) to formative assessment and feedback, as well as a closer look learner variability and its impact on instruction.

This section focuses on:

  • Learner Variability

  • Instructional Goals

  • Accessible Materials, Resources and Tools

  • Instructional Methods

  • Formative Assessment and Feedback

  • Physical Environment

  • Social Environment

 

You can go deeper into this section by visiting the UDL Planning Guide.

UDL Planing Guide - Flexible

Deep Inquiry and Understanding

This category focuses on the type of learning experiences students need to have, as well as the interdisciplinary habits they need to develop, to become expert learners. The goal is to move beyond traditional teacher-directed instruction while ensuring students have the skills to work in this type of environment. Deep comprehension and authentic learning isn’t just students “doing their own thing”. Agency requires them to consider others, and work with others, to accomplish their goals. This all requires careful scaffolding to given them the time and practice needed to develop the skills to make this change. This chart has a direct connection to the ISTE Standards for Students, relating to the seven learning roles outlined in the standards: Empowered Learner, Digital Citizen, Knowledge Constructor, Innovative Designer, Computational Thinker, Creative Communicator and Global Collaborator.

This section focuses on:

  • Authentic Learning Opportunities

  • Deep Comprehension

  • Knowledge Curation and Construction

  • Interdisciplinary Expertise

  • Open Creation & Communication

  • Collaborative, Global Citizen

 

You can go deeper into this section by visiting the UDL Planning Guide.

UDL Planning Guide Inquirye

Ownership of Learning

This category focuses some of the hidden aspects of learning. In school students are often rewarded for natural strengths in this area. Others are often punished for the effects deficits in this area create, rather than addressing the underlying cause. Helping all students understand how they learn and manage their emotions, and then helping them build, extend or compensate is vital if we want resilient, self-directed learners.

 

We sometimes hear the term “teflon learning” because very little “sticks”. They may hold on to information long enough to take a test, but much of what they “learn” simply slides away. Giving student ownership of their learning is important, but unless and until they know how to learn, and why they are learning, they may show interest but will struggle to become master learners.

 

As such, while voice and choice are important aspects of student driven learning, without self-awareness, self-reflection and self-regulation, students are essentially driving without a map, or a clear destination. To give them both the skills to drive and the ability to plan and organize the trip requires:

  • The gradual release of responsibility, that is, giving students important options and choices throughout the entire learning process: goals, assessment, methods and materials;

  • Addressing the hidden curriculum, that is, helping students develop metacognition, build self-regulation and better understand and utilize the strategies and tools that strengthen and support their executive functions.

This section focuses on:

  • Personal Goal Setting

  • Learner Voice and Advocacy

  • Self-Reflection and Metacognition

  • Executive Function

  • Self-Monitoring and Self-Regulation

  • Agency

 

You can go deeper into this section by visiting the UDL Planning Guide.

UDL Planning Guide - Ownership
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The Whac-A-Mole           approach to UDL implementation ignores the hierarchical design of the guidelines, the interconnections between principles, and the ultimate goal of UDL: learner expertise. #DiveIntoUDL