It’s Time to Honor the Human Experience

It’s Time to Honor the Human Experience

Recently, I shared a blog, “My Struggle with the Word “Disabled” and asked for others to share their perspectives. I am floored by the response. It is my goal, with permission, to elevate and celebrate the stories that have been shared with me. In this first installment in this series, I am incredibly honored to share the work of my dear friend, Joni Degner. Joni is half of the dream consultant team, DTour. Please read her perspective on the term “disabled” and how it has affected her personally. As someone who lived and functioned with no hint of disability for

My Struggle with the Word “Disabled”

If you’ve heard me present, you’ll hear me say, “It is not our learners who are disabled. It is our systems, our curriculum.” This is not to say that our learners don’t have disabilities because they do. Disability is a source of identity, pride, and civil rights. As a mom of a daughter with disability, I wouldn’t trade her, or her disability, for anything in the world. My struggle recently is whether disability and “disabled” are the same thing. By writing this post, I hope to continue difficult conversations about disability so as a field, we can get this right.

5 Effective Coaching Strategies for UDL Implementation

What is it about summer? Every year, I feel like I enter a wormhole in the beginning of June and SNAP, just like that, it’s a week until school begins. It’s mind-blowing how every year we get older, time seems to whoosh by us at an exponentially faster rate. When time flies, it’s very easy to put off what we define as important to us. Tomorrow. Next week. Next year. We are always delaying, procrastinating, putting-off. Our to-do lists lengthen, and they are often abandoned altogether as we enter cognitive overload and begin to cope by ignoring or giving up.

What is Disability in Education?

Disability and Education Infographic - Please continue below for description text outlining information contained in this infographic.

According to data in the U.S. Department of Education’s 40th Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2018, pg 52), 63% of students with disabilities are spending at least 80% of their school day in an inclusive setting. This percentage is a huge improvement over decades past – when students with disabilities were most often segregated from their peers – but we can still do better. Moving to a more inclusive and equitable education system requires a thorough review of our existing structures, practices, and views to ensure it is done successfully. Educating

My Epic UDL Fails

I had the great pleasure of giving a UDL Talk two weeks ago at the 2019 UDL IRN International Summit. I spoke about something that I think we all need to be more vocal about – our missteps, falls, mistakes, setbacks, and outright failures during UDL implementation. Implementation takes time, and I am not talking about a month or even a year. According to the National Implementation Network, we should expect full implementation to take more like four to seven years. And what is “full implementation” exactly? That’s when half of your staff is fully on board – just half.

Expert Learning, Equity & Making Cookies

Mother & daughter making cookies

One of my best friends, Kate, regularly blesses us with drool-worthy confections worthy of winning fine arts awards. She is the ultimate expert baker. Every cupcake, cookie, and cake is perfection – moist, crunchy, chewy – and just as it should be in its perfect form. I, on the other hand, am no expert baker. My cookies are flat, my brownies are dry, and I only make cake from a box. I know why. It’s not worth the effort. I rarely measure with the precision baking requires. I don’t invest in high quality ingredients. I just don’t love sweets that

Better Professional Development in 5 Steps

Teachers engaged in professional development

They didn’t build Rome in a day, and we certainly can’t educate our kids in a day. But all too often our systems limit professional development for teachers to a single intensive day on a new program, initiative, or framework. An intensive PD day shouldn’t be a single event, it should be part of a longer learning journey. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) has taught us time and time again that it is not our students who are disabled – it is our curriculum, our assessments, and our systems that are disabling to our students. When we remove barriers to

UDL Implementation Rubric

UDL Implementation Rubric by Melissa Toland

If you’ve had a chance to review the UDL Progression Rubric, you probably recognize that UDL isn’t a framework that you can implement overnight. It takes years – not weeks or months – to reach expert level and it’s easy to see how anyone, even the most experienced teachers, could get overwhelmed. For those just getting started, evaluating where you are in the UDL implementation process on a checkpoint by checkpoint basis might simply be too much. When Melissa Toland of Ocean View School District reached out suggesting a simplified version for the time-strapped or overwhelmed teacher, I was totally

UDL Flowchart in Spanish – Flujograma DUA

See in English Translation by Juan Gallardo Proporcionar múltiples medios de motivación; proporcionar múltiples medios de representación; proporcionar múltiples medios de acción y expresión. Con solo un vistazo, es fácil interpretar los tres principios del Diseño Universal para el Aprendizaje (DUA) por lo que son: ofrecer opciones a los estudiantes. Parece fácil. Sin embargo, si todo lo que hacemos es ofrecer opciones apenas estamos rozando la superficie de lo que es la implementación del DUA a escala completa. Cuando el DUA se implementa en todo su potencial, nuestros esfuerzos se traducen en aprendices expertos: estudiantes que tienen un propósito y