Just like a classroom, we'd like the introduction to serve as a whole class activity. One in which we all come together to share a similar experience and a common goal before heading out on our personal path. Take a moment to orient yourself, (and after all we've experienced the last couple years), pause to take a deep breath before you dive in!
Variability and Learner Expertise
At it's core UDL is about two things.
The first is variability.
No two people are alike. Our personal experiences, learning experiences and habits (diet, exercise, sleep, meditation, social connections, etc.) continue to alter our brain (and body!) so that even identical twins learn and experience the world differently.
UDL addresses this variability in three areas, recognizing every learner differs: in how they develop and apply internal motivation (the why of learning); in how they access and process information to make meaning (the what of learning); and in how they personalize strategies to solve problems and express understanding (the how of learning).
The second area is learner expertise.
Our system is built on transmitting knowledge to students. It remains, for the most part, a passive process, repeated endlessly. For some, the game of school is easy to master. For others the rules are illusive.
UDL does not concern itself with content - the obsession of education for decades - but rather it focuses on the underlying skills, strategies and habits of mind that help ensure learners can set goals, understand themselves as learners and have the strategies to meet their goals and their needs.
It gives students the skills to not only master any content they choose, but to master themselves as well.
We'd like to share a short video that explores our inner drive to learn and create, and how education (and work) often crushes this desire through conformity and standardization.
This award winning short animated film, silently tells the story
of a father, Copi, trying to help his son, Paste, make his way
in the world.
It is worth it the 8 minute running time.
However, the video isn't as inclusive as it could be.
After viewing, consider the video's powerful message as it
applies to UDL and your classroom and then consider how
the video itself might be made more accessible.
As we mentioned in the book, recording your thoughts and reflections are important. But even more important is first deciding who you want to become and why. Becoming an inclusive educator, requires you to set goals and create habits. To ensure you new habits help you become who you are, rather than forgotten "resolutions", plan to continuously revisit your goals and reflect in deep ways. One of these ways is "metateaching", a type of teacher metacognition, that requires unflinching honesty and a willingness to let go of things that while comfortable, no longer work for you and/or your students.
"For teachers, change isn’t merely learning new things; merely amplifying practice through the inclusion of technology or adding an instructional strategy to a “to-do” list, it is more personal than that. And much more work. It often requires them to analyze and discard old beliefs, many of which might be the backbone of their teaching." (Owston).
For many of us, writing is our preferred medium. However, you might want to take this opportunity to try another means of expression: move beyond your comfort zone and try something new and challenging. The choice is yours. Below are a variety of apps and sites that offer you "multiple means"!
Pause and Reflect
We've compiled the pause and reflect questions from the book into a Google Doc: Introduction - Pause and Reflect. You can make a copy and work inside the document, or, and we'd encourage it, you can challenge yourself to use another method from the above list to record your thoughts.