Despite the snowy weather outside, I am busy making arrangements for the two summer institutes we will be running at U of M in August. For the last two years 70 teachers from all over the province have come together for two weeks of full day, intensive immersion in the Three Block Model of UDL. It is the best two weeks of the year for me! When it began, I was worried. How do you create community with such a large group in a lecture theatre? Could I do what I did in schools with adults at a University? It was amazing. To have seventy passionate educators come together, giving up two weeks of their summer, and INVEST in their profession, and in the experience, is inspiring. We live that two weeks in a UDL classroom. The students, adults though they are, have an experience unlike how they were taught when they were growing up - and this reshapes how people conceive of teaching and learning, of what it can and should look like, sound like, and feel like.
For two years now that experience has left me with awe, and enough inspiration to keep flying and driving all over this country to try to bring that practice to more teachers, schools, and of course, kids. This summer, I decided to take the next step. Drawing from the 140 students who have lived that experience, and implemented the model in their own roles, we are running an advanced institute in addition to the normal one. This institute will focus on leadership training - learning how to teach this method to others, present workshops, facilitate planning, and so forth. It will also address some of the deeper levels of the framework - including the role of the resource teacher, inclusion of students with significant disabilities, teaching literacy and numeracy in a UDL classroom, and more. It will be a deep, impassioned exploration of how we can create truly inclusive learning communities in our schools. I can't wait!
I am an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia in Inclusive Education, and the developer of the Three Block Model of Universal Design for Learning.