I sat down today, to begin writing a post to recap about a
colleague’s presentation of her UDL journey, and takeaways from a visit to the Groton-Dunstable School District. I had some ideas, had even begun writing, when I was pulled off course by a memory, a song, and abruptly, I knew what I needed to write about at that moment, and It wasn’t Universal Design for Learning. I suddenly had a need to write about something completely different, and I did. I literally clicked open a new page and began, happily writing, remembering and creating this sweet little post, A Memory, a Melody.
Now, hours later, I am thinking about Universal Design, and how often we ask kids to follow the plan rather than their heart, soul, or inspiration. How often do we say, “here is a poem, here is a story, this is what is good about it, now you try and write one”? How often do we say, “yes”? What are our reasons for saying “no”? I can remember specific moments from my childhood where I really wasn’t feeling it, when given a writing assignment, I began to believe I wasn’t really a writer, that it wasn’t my thing, that I had no real imagination. I remember the dread in the pit of my being when told to sit down and write a story, sit there at that desk you have been at for hours, don’t rock your chair, keep your feet on the floor, and write... my stomach churns just thinking about it.
I Think of my own classroom, where I allow kids clipboards, a choice of seating, comfort, and choice. Where during writing workshop, I began to loosen the reins, after the mini lesson, students were encouraged to try it out, but I began to say to some, “If you have something you want to work on, that you are excited about, that is calling for your attention, write that”. I particular began using this line with the kids who were not writing at all, but it is important for all of them, isn’t it? ... To be given the opportunity to dive into their work with passion and drive? To be able to choose what is right for them, right now, on one day, or in one particular moment?
UDL is a mindset shift. A reminder to ask ourselves:
- Where are the places where we can offer choice?
- Where are the times we can say yes to our students?
- If we are saying, “ no”, what is our reason? Is it important to the learning goal? Or is our reason irrelevant? Why? Why? Why?