Variability is the norm. People are different. Why is it then, that in traditional education, every student is taught the same way? It just doesn’t make sense, which is why every educator should implement Universal Design of Learning (UDL) in his or her learning environment. Why is this so important? Allow me to provide an analogy*.
I love red high heels. They work for me. My next pair will be the Kenneth Cole Joni Lee pumps on the left. Now, imagine that I owned the only shoe store in town, and the only thing I sold were these red heels (in size 9.5, of course). How would you feel about that? Don’t worry if they aren’t your size. I can cut out the toe or stuff some tissues in there. Can’t walk with heels? I’ll teach you, and if I have to, I can rip the heels off. Don’t like them? That’s just too bad.
Education is a little like my shoe store. As teachers and administrators, we have teaching techniques that work for us, and we use them repeatedly. We have to remember, however, that they don’t always work for our learners, even when we make accommodations and modifications. That’s where UDL comes in.
In UDL, you design your lesson with variability in mind, so you’ll never have to accommodate again. How do you do that? You represent information in multiple ways, allow students to make choices and respond in multiple ways, and ultimately engage them in the process.
In the coming weeks, I’ll share practices that will help you to incorporate UDL in your learning environment. I promise, it will make you a better teacher or administrator. Don’t believe me? Imagine every member of your audience sitting in front of you wearing my Joni Lees…
* I created the shoe analogy with the help of the fabulous Peggy Coyne from CAST, and Dr. Linda Hirsch, Carol Comins, and Mary Martin from Chelmsford Public Schools.