Universal Design for Learning: What is it, you ask? And how does it apply to Staff Professional Development?
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is made up of three principles:
- Multiple Means of Representation: This principle deals with the “what” of learning, and how we recognise the what of learning.
- Multiple Means for Action and Expression: This principle looks into the strategies of “how” students learned the information presented.
- Multiple Means for Engagement: This principle explores the effectiveness and the “why” of the learning that is taking place.
When these three principles are applied in an educational context it provides all students (and staff) within the educational system, equal opportunities to learn.
Conducting professional development with staff is very different and sometimes very difficult to teaching a lesson in the classroom to students. The approach that I must take is on a different level as the staff, as put by Nipper, Ricks, Kilpatrick, Mayhew, Thomas, Kwon, Klerlein and Hembree. (2011),
“…teachers have participated in one form of professional development or another, they bring to any professional development activity certain expectations – sometimes strongly held – as to what that activity should be and what they should be able to apply from it” (p.376).
When these expectations of staff are not met as perceived by them, then this can bring tension to the professional development. When this occurs, staff will often not get the full benefit from the professional development day. Staff can become closed minded and resist the learning opportunity.
By reviewing my lesson plan Version 2.0 and now applying the UDL Guidelines to leading a staff professional development day designed around adding comments of commendation or concern to the pastoral care section of a school based computer system (SEQTA – Teacher’s Assistant Suite). I felt that there were some modifications to the lesson plan that I did not originally think about for the day to make it equal for all staff members. I felt that one aspect that I did not consider which was raised by Nate Stevenson (from Kent State University) in one of our sessions. This was to provide a hard copy printout of the information on the day for staff to follow and take notes if preferred.
After a discussion this morning with Mary Wever concerning the structure/input of the MAETEL Yr1 Program and some issues and concerns that we (as students) had, it only affirms the issue that professional development for staff needs to be carefully planned out in order to engage and be effective for all staff members. When planning my professional development day and applying the principles of UDL, I also need to take into consideration the staff ICT literacy levels. This will have a major impact on the functionality of the day and the means used to present this information to the staff. Currently on my staff I have ICT literacy levels ranging from highly competent to ‘just know how to do the basics’.
The staff will also need to see the benefit of this and that it is not just seen as something that is imposed from the top down, thus just creating more work for works sake! Rather than me just telling the staff that they have to do it, they as a staff group, must see the relevance and benefits of the whole process in order for them to take ownership and continue to add positive and negative comments to the pastoral care section of SEQTA.
Canniff and Shank (2003) talk about good schools and good standards not only coming from the administration but that the whole teaching community needs to be involved in the process, thus establishing a well established culture of excellence amongst all the staff and a high perception of excellence within the community. In applying this new information I believe that I have now developed a Professional Development day Lesson Plan Version 3.0: UDL Revision that will benefit all staff.
Canniff, J. G., & Shank, M. J. (2003). If you do what you always did, you get what you always got: Portland SST transforming school cultures through a seamless continuum of teacher professional development Retrieved from http://ezproxy.msu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/62163204?accountid=12598
Nipper, K., Ricks, T., Kilpatrick, J., Mayhew, L., Thomas, S., Kwon, N. Y., . . . Hembree, D. (2011). Teacher tensions: Expectations in a professional development institute. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 14(5), 375-392. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.msu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/964172984?accountid=12598