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10 Tips for Supporting Educators as They Begin Their UDL Journey

Michael Woodlock
Michael Woodlock
September 26, 2021

If you are reading this you have already identified that in order to become a more inclusive school you need to break from the traditional “one-size-fits-all” way of teaching our students.  Moving away from this style which is tailored to meet the needs of the “mythical average” learner will be difficult for some and we must protect our staff from being overloaded to the point at which taking on this new endeavor just isn’t worth the stress.  How do we do that? 

Consider the following list of strategies that you can implement to ensure that you are supporting the best candidates so they will have both professional success, job embedded support, and most importantly, job satisfaction!

  • Model choice and goal setting with your staff whenever possible.
  • Take notice of UDL in practice and celebrate it publicly when possible.
  • Make peer observations possible when staff is interested in seeing UDL in action. Offer to sub yourself. This demonstrates how important it is!
  • Use post-observation conversations to focus on UDL implementation.
  • Crosswalk the UDL Guidelines and state teaching guidelines with staff.
  • Be really clear about your goals/expectations/timeline for the implementation of UDL.
  • Be a frequent presence in the classroom... even if it is just for a minute or two.
  • Provide professional learning opportunities for UDL throughout the year. (Plus! Have UDL publications like UDL Now, Equity by Design, and Innovate Inside the Box available in staff workrooms, at the lunch table, and in other common places so they have access to professional development at their fingertips.)
  • Make sure that your staff understands the science aspect of UDL. So many initiatives come and go in education so taking the time to discuss the history and origin of UDL can really assist in adoption.
  • Get a team of "Early Adopters" together and let them help you. Leading implementation on something so big and important is a lot. If you get burnt out... so will your staff.

We are at such a unique place in education.  Because of what we have all endured over the last couple of years, our teachers have had to make drastic changes to meet the needs of their students.  In many ways they have already endured much of the painful aspect of change. The challenges which have been faced in recent months may provide a perfect opportunity to call for a shift in the way we educate our young people.  UDL is built to deal with variability in our students but also in the conditions in which we are asked to educate them.  Making a change to a more flexible and inclusive educational approach is more important now than ever.

What works for some may not work for all - so take time to explore different strategies to find what works best for your team. By following these steps, from the start of your journey - you'll be able one step closer to your goal of creating a positive environment for your learning community. 

For more tips and strategies

UDL Playbook 3dExplore the UDL Playbook for School and District Leaders where we lay out a step-by-step process to remake your leadership skills and methods through the inclusive principles of UDL. Check it out plus additional resources including our Book Club Guide here.


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