Five Years.That's how long I have been in Manitoba.
That's how long the Three-Block Model has been "out there."As the New Year begins, I have been reflecting on this.
Sometimes I get tired. Sometimes all of the people working to spread this work and promote inclusive learning communities get tired. We have such a strong vision of what we're trying to achieve, such a focus on moving forward - we forget to look back and celebrate how far we've come.
Today, the Three-Block Model of UDL is being implemented in 5 provinces. In Manitoba, every school division has some teachers designing the learning environment of their classroom this way, and five school divisions have made it a divisional priority/initiative. We have strong research showing that building learning communities in this way results in less teacher stress and improved job satisfaction, improved student outcomes related to self-worth, belonging, intellectual and emotional engagement, and academic achievement K-12. Critical thinking is significantly improved, and students from marginalized populations such as Aboriginal students, students who are culturally and linguistically diverse, and students with disabilities all make significantly better gains in a Three-Block classroom than they do in typical classrooms. Designing instruction in this way closes the gap, including large effect sizes for struggling readers.
There are many anecdotal stories of students whose lives have been transformed, of teachers renewed passion and inspiration, of families and schools coming together. We hear it from all. Students from one classroom presented a panel to 100 teachers in the summer of 2014 talking about these impacts - you can view it on the videos page of this website:
We have a long way to go to ensure ALL students are socially and academically included in their classrooms and schools, and ultimately in their communities. But we have also come a long, long way. I am ultimately beholden, and grateful, to those that led the way before me - David Rose and the people involved in CAST, who developed UDL; CASEL, and significant mentors from their world who taught me when I was a classroom teacher about the importance of social emotional learning, belonging, and self-worth. Most of all, to the students whose lives inspired this work, and the educators I now work so closely with who have picked up the torch and are carrying it, I am so grateful.
In the coming weeks, I will be blogging about some of the important issues of this work - the intersection of CAST and CASEL's work with the Three-Block Model, funding models and their impact on children, families, and teachers, and more. But today, just for a day, let's remember, take a deep breath, and smile.
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.