UDL in Practice · Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Professional “Self-Care”

I entered undergraduate as a theater major.  Within a semester, I had switched to English.  But then I wanted to add an Econ minor.  I didn’t add Econ, but I did add math as a minor.  And then I added Spanish.

 

My advisor asked me one time if I was planning to take any English courses, classes in my declared major, or if I was just going to keep taking classes in every other possible subject!  I didn’t really know what to say, since I was so hopped up on the enjoyment of being challenged in the variety of classes, trying on new ideas, spending hours with my classwork.

When I decided to graduate early, I dropped my minors, traded my Calc IV class for an independent study and serving as a TA for second semester in Calc I, and took a bunch of English courses.  I needed out, but it was a great ride while I was in.

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I had one professor, Dr. Price, for a number of courses during my time at Keene State.  His classes were amazingly hard, but I always grew when I took them.  In the last one I took with him, about Freud, he told me I would never become a professional writer.  I’ve given myself a full day (and two nights) this vacation to immerse myself in some new professional books (Learning to Choose, Choosing to Learn by Mike Anderson and The End of Average by Todd Rose), both of which have been so inspiring.  I’m typing away like mad on this blog, writing posts and ideas for posts and drafts and quotes and scraps of ideas.  And I think about Dr. Price and I know he is right–I will never be a professional writer–but I am so happy to be back in a place that reminds me of the days I spent reading, writing, and learning in undergrad, days when I would spread out my books and articles and would delight in the physical sensation of feeling my brain expand and build connections as all of the ideas went into a mental stew in my head that inspired me and challenged me.

It has been a hard fall, this 2018-2019 school year.  Some of it is because of professional demands that have changed.  Some of it I took on; some of it came crashing down on me.  I haven’t had a piece of weaving on my loom in nine months and have no plans to add warping anything to my list of projects in these last days of this vacation–the loom will wait.  I haven’t knit in months and I rarely read anymore.  If I have time and energy, I’m trying to get to the gym or to take advantage of our crazy-mild winter to get out and walk.  But I am really enjoying these days of reading and watching the ideas spark in my brain.  I have a friend who recently started writing a professional text about the work she does with turn-around schools and she lights up every time she tells me about her current progress and work with the book.  That’s how I feel today–lit up with ideas, ideas from the UDL Design Lab graduate course we just started in our district, ideas from the professional texts I am reading, ideas from having the time to read and reflect and think.

 

These days are challenging me to think about how I can build this time back into my life.  I will automatically be inspired by the work I will be giving feedback on as part of teaching the UDL Design Lab graduate course and, for that, I am grateful.  I have a pile of professional books sitting in front of me here on my desk at home, but I haven’t even cracked some of them.  As this time off, away from work/school, winds down, as I write this blog post that will be published when we are back in the full-on swing with the kids and administrators, how will I find the time to come back to this work?  This is the challenge I take into the new year as we return to school in 2019.

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