UDL Back to School Conference: 3 Thrilling Takes on Universal Design for Learning
The game timer has hit zero on our back-to-school conference UDL TOUCHDOWN: Making a play for all learners.
It was a day of amazing speakers, incredible dialogue, and useful Universal Design for Learning (UDL) tips. If you were able to join us, we hope your playbook is full!
These three conference takeaways filled us with inspiration. Maybe they’ll do the same for you, wherever you are on your UDL journey.
“I listened to a superintendent speak a couple of weeks ago who said, ‘We really need more acceleration, not remediation.’ But I think UDL really accelerates strengths. UDL is the most proactive, the least restrictive; it really is the best opportunity for every student to be successful.”
UDL could help solve "a global crisis in education"
“Now is the time to transform education systems,” said António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary General, at the recent Transforming Education Summit.
Guterres called for education that is “accessible from the earliest stages” and creates “lifelong learners.”
This excited James Basham, Senior Director for Learning and Innovation at CAST.
Basham spoke about Guterres’ speech at the Live UDL Huddle, because accessibility and creating lifelong learners are often the results of UDL.
Basham knows this because he’s seen this kind of transformation happen.
“When we started going into schools that were struggling and implementing UDL, the teachers suddenly say, ‘Oh, now it all makes sense,’ he said.
“It’s not just another initiative. It’s really about improvement.”
Take a listen to Guterres’ inspiring call to action on the UN’s website. Trust us, it’s ten minutes well spent.
UDL is proactive and strengths-based, not reactive and deficit-based.
This takeaway also came from the Live UDL Huddle. The huddle made for some great conversation!
“I listened to a superintendent speak a couple of weeks ago who said, ‘We really need more acceleration, not remediation,’” said Ruth Ziolkowski, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Partnerships for Texthelp.
Many educational approaches try to “fix” students or teach them skills they don’t have. The focus is on deficits.
“But I think UDL really accelerates strengths,” Ruth said, “UDL is the most proactive, the least restrictive; it really is the best opportunity for every student to be successful.”
UDL success often means changing a school district's culture. But change can start with small actions that grow into something bigger!
At Bartholomew Consolidated Schools, UDL isn’t just another thing.
It’s THE thing they’re doing as a district, says Brenny Kummer, Bartholomew’s Assistant Director of Educational Technology.
“UDL is 50% of our teacher evaluation, so it is something we are expected to do,” she said in “UDL: Game Plan to win.”
But it didn’t happen overnight.
It happened “through really talking with our district leadership and them seeing that if we do UDL, we all benefit, and it’ll help everyone.”
Introducing UDL through quick tips and modeling UDL was important to their success.
“Easing into UDL by showing quick tips was key,” she said. “Starting small and showing teachers that there’s small changes they can implement right away.”
Bartholomew also models UDL in their professional development and coaches staff one-on-one.
“Teachers are constantly seeing it, and I think that has helped them realize that it is something we all can do!” Kummer said.
“When we started going into schools that were struggling and implementing UDL, the teachers suddenly say, ‘Oh, now it all makes sense.’ It’s not just another initiative. It’s really about improvement.”
Feeling inspired by these takeaways? Ready to take action?
We recommend watching these UDL conference sessions on-demand for UDL strategies you can use right away:
- Setting a UDL Vision: Rocks and Oysters
- #UDLHacks: 5 Ideas for K-12+ Classrooms
- Pressing for the Win: Making a Play for Equity
- UDL: Game Plan to Win
- Tackling Inclusion One Strategy At a Time
You can watch these sessions on-demand in the event platform. If you’re all caught up, continue the conversation using #UDLTouchdown.