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Inspire Growth! A 30-Minute UDL Lesson Feedback Protocol

Mirko Chardin
Mirko Chardin
January 7, 2024

So often we hear that professional development offered to our teachers is not enough to be effective. More often than not, schools schedule one or two sessions on a topic, like Universal Design for Learning (UDL), but then teachers are left to figure it out from there. We know that one and done PD does not work. Teachers need continuous ongoing professional learning to ensure that real change happens. As Doug Reeves put it in an ASCD article,  "It would be impossible to find evidence that three-hour workshops or 90-minute keynotes on their own, however popular and entertaining, result in learning or changes in professional practices. A review of the research on practices that lead to learning (Killian, 2019) noted that deliberate practice—practice that is motivated by a compelling desire to improve, requires extra effort, is sustained over a long period of time, and is accompanied by feedback—can result in significant gains in learning for adults and students." 

Universally designed leadership requires us to model expert learning and support all stakeholders in their individual professional growth. While providing professional learning in UDL practices can help us create more inclusive and equitable systems, we just can’t stop there. We must support and elevate teacher practice through a system of educator evaluation.  If we’re truly dedicated to fostering equity and inclusion in our schools, we must ensure that all learners enjoy equal access to high-quality curriculum, met with high expectations, enabling them to achieve success. To achieve this, it becomes imperative to provide mastery-oriented feedback to teachers so that they can effectively do this work. 

But let’s be honest, teachers (and school leaders) are already juggling a myriad of responsibilities and often find it hard to receive (or give) timely and constructive feedback on their lesson plans. Enter the 30-Minute UDL Lesson Glows and Grows Feedback Protocol (word doc). The primary objective of the 30-Minute UDL Lesson Glows and Grows Feedback Protocol is for leaders and colleagues to equip teachers with swift and constructive feedback on their UDL lesson plans. This feedback, delivered within a 30-minute timeframe, focuses on recognizing strengths (glows) and pinpointing areas for improvement (grows) and can be used during a PLC, grade-level meeting, during common planning time, or faculty meeting

To get started, be sure to have copies of the teacher's lesson plan or instructional materials, feedback forms or templates, and a timer or clock. Whether gathering colleagues formally or informally, during a PLC or faculty meeting, make the process work for you and your team.

The Procedure:

Introduction (2 minutes) - Start by warmly welcoming participants and briefly explaining the purpose of the protocol. Be sure to review the amount of time that this will take so that the teachers are aware that you respect their time as well as a way to keep you both accountable and on track.

Review of UDL Principles (3 minutes) - Provide a refresher on the three UDL principles: Multiple Means of Representation, Multiple Means of Engagement, and Multiple Means of Expression. Reminding them of the core concepts underpinning UDL (this is a nice topline overview!)

Glows (10 minutes) - Distribute copies of the teacher's lesson plan or instructional materials. Ask participants to individually review the materials, identifying the strengths (glows) in the lesson that align with UDL principles. Be sure this section focuses on the positive!

Grows (10 minutes) - After identifying the strengths, instruct participants to continue reviewing the materials and identify one or two key areas where the lesson could be improved to better align with UDL principles. Note: This step is about constructive suggestions for growth rather than criticism.

Sharing and Closing (5 minutes) - Invite each participant to share one glow and one grow from their feedback with the larger group. Encourage a brief discussion on common themes and insights. 

Follow-Up (0-5 minutes, as needed) - Depending on time availability, offer an opportunity for a brief follow-up session in the future to discuss progress made in implementing the suggested improvements. Close the session with a closing thought and by sharing gratitude for the collective commitment to growth.

The 30-Minute UDL Lesson Glows and Grows Feedback Protocol is an effective tool that respects the time constraints our colleagues face while providing targeted feedback on their UDL lessons. It encourages teachers to focus on the most critical strengths and areas for growth in their instructional plans, fostering continuous improvement in their UDL instruction. You have an amazing opportunity to make change happen by taking just 30 minutes to provide feedback to your colleagues.  Just like a PD session, this cannot be done just once; it is important to give ongoing and continuous feedback. In the end, we’ll be one step closer to our goal of creating an environment where all learners can thrive.

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