As I begin this new school year, one of the things on my to-do list is to start thinking about my evaluation goal. This year, I want to make sure I’m building a goal that comes out of the Guidelines for Universal Design for Learning (UDL). How can I incorporate that into my practice? How can I encapsulate it in my goal? How could I create not just a goal, but a pair of goals–one for Professional Practice and one for Student Learning–that would be meaningful to me, my practice, and my students?
Universally Designed Leadership
I got the beginning of an answer from reading Universally Designed Leadership: Applying UDL to Systems and Schools by Katie Novak and Kristan Rodriguez. Although the book is really designed to be used for administration, I found that I could use the chapter on goals to help me find wording for a goal with Universal Design for Learning, as follows:
The Professional Practice Goal: “[the teacher] will incorporate at least one alternative method of representation of course content…into 100 percent of the lessons he teaches” (pg. 85)
Student Learning Goal: “[the teacher] will incorporate multiple means of representation of course content so that all students earn a passing score of at least 75 percent on the differentiated cumulative end-of-unit assessment” (pg. 85)
Professional Practice Goal: “[the teachers] will include at least two alternative media for students to communicate their learning into 100 percent of the lessons that the educators teach” (pg. 86)
Student Learning Goal: “[the teachers] will allow students to communicate their learning through assessments using multiple media so that 100 percent of students will demonstrate moderate to high growth in mathematics as evidenced by performance on beginning- and end-of-year assessments” (pg. 86)
What does this look like in my current practice?
Every time I think I’m finally making some progress incorporating the UDL Guidelines into my daily practice, I find a half dozen more things that need to be revised. And re-revised. And re-thought. Again. It’s an exciting, iterative process where each step forward opens up a dozen more options.
This year, I had an “a-ha” moment while attending the ASSISTments conference on August 1st. In a nutshell, I realized that my homework procedures needed work. On the one hand, I offer levels for students, giving them the option to move beyond the core work and even replace the core work with more advanced options if that’s the best match for their current understanding of the material. I also give flexible assignments in that students are given homework credit based on providing evidence of having done a solid 20-90 minutes of high-quality math homework, rather than doing an assigned set of problems, regardless of how much or how little time they need to complete it.
But–and it’s a big “but”–despite the attempts I had already made to incorporate the UDL Guidelines, I was not providing students with much in the way of options. All homework was done on paper. So much for “multiple means of action and expression” (UDL Guidelines)!
What’s the fix? To start, I plan to write and implement a Professional Learning Goal around providing more options for expression on homework–there’s a draft of it below.
What about in the classroom?
Again, one step forward and a half dozen more options open up. I have worked very hard with my colleague, Irene Witt, to bring our classroom practice into line with recommendations about limiting teacher instruction (“teacher talk”) to a 15-20 minute mini-lesson, followed by independent work time. With that said, I, again, realized that I was not offering options for students within that time. I record my lessons each day using an iPad and the EduCreations app; I create the recording while I teach and post it in Google Classroom for students’ use. It’s an awesome practice and one that becomes easier and easier, but it is built on the assumption that all students are experiencing that same lesson in the same way. How can I open up my teacher-led instruction to choice? What about recording key information prior to my class time and posting that in Google Classroom? Then, students could decide if they wanted to watch the “live” version of the lesson or view the “digital” version already created.
How does this make a goal?
When I think about these two areas I have identified, I see a common theme: I have identified areas in my practice where I would like to add more options so I increase student choice and, by extension, student engagement. I can generate a first attempt at a goal, based on the model in Universally Designed Leadership and incorporating my particular area of need, as follows:
The Professional Practice Goal: I will incorporate at least one additional option for choice into homework and/or teacher-led instruction, as appropriate for the day’s work, into 100% of the lessons I teach, to provide a minimum of two choices daily for homework and/or teacher-led instruction.
Student Learning Goal: I will provide a minimum of two choices daily for homework and/or teacher-led instruction so that at least 70% of my students, across all classes, will demonstrate moderate to high growth in mathematics as evidenced by performance on beginning- and end-of-year assessments (as defined on our District-Determined Measure).
From the NJ Department of Education: Universal Design for Learning