UDL Symposium: Takeaways

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A detail from the installation

If you follow me on twitter then you know I spent last week with the folks from CAST and my fellow UDL junkies. I’m not going to go minute by minute but I’m going to share my big takeaways and my actions from the Symposium.

  1. Everything is intentional…even when it’s not. I can plan for my content intentionally using the UDL Guidelines and when I run out of time or don’t find it a priority I’m also intentionally NOT using UDL. I can also plan how to cultivate relationships with students using the tools from the Search Institute shared by the great Joni Degner. When my students fail, it’s because I did not plan or design for them. Everything is intentional.

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From Allison Posey’s Keynote
2. Conversations, relationships, and safety are the most important things. If I can’t cultivate these three things within my classroom (and also my life) I won’t be able to ever get to content with students. Students need to feel safe enough to speak up when things aren’t working for them – which only comes when I have a real honest relationship with them.
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A detail of the installation
3. The same things I want for my students, I want for myself and other educators. I want some choice in how I learn new things. I want support as I learn. I want my variability to be loved and celebrated rather than pushed down into conformity.

These things are more specific to UDL and some things that finally have clicked for me:

  1. Use the Progression Rubric to help push lessons and activities further and truly empower students to take ownership of their learning. The always captivating Katie Novak and Kristan Rodriguez shared this tool.

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Katie Novak talking UDL in the Artclass with some members of The Art of Variability
2. Intentionally teach and support Executive Function through the use of mindfulness and other tools and supports. My favorite one RIGHT NOW is Dejal Timeout – it’s a timer for your computer. I have it set to every 10 minutes I have a 10 second break and every hour I have a 10 minute break. So far it’s helped me not sit for hours upon hours hunched over.  This was shared by Alexis Reid who is just amazing basically.

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The wonderful Alexis Reid moments before her packed session on Executive Function

Breaking down what “good teaching” really looks like into bite size things that serve up a big impact. This website and list of high leverage practices delivers just that.  The epic Bryan Dean shared this information in his session.

The 3 days was like being in a bubble and I was sort of freaking out thinking about returning to the “normal” world. Being with folks who for the most part agree with my basic philosophy of teaching is the most wonderful thing. I was worried about my re-entry. So much so I started a twitter thread to remind myself of how to stay in the bubble while also coming back into the real world.

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Listening to Allison Posey share her wonderful model of the brain and how it all works together and how to use the variability within our learners to plan and be intentional in all we do.

So how am I re-entering the world? How am I taking action? For starters, I’m sharing this first. Secondly, I’m using some of the small tools while planning on how to use the larger tools by myself and with others. For now though, I’m enjoying the afterglow of an amazing week. 

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