#UDLchat: Teacher Preparation & Universal Design for Learning

April 17, 2019
Host: Kimberly Coy

A mentor teacher working with a teacher candidate | Photo by Monica Melton on Unsplash

One of the tenets of Universal Design for Learning is that designing learning experiences from the start with the UDL framework in mind is often more effective than retrofitting existing curricula and environments. This doesn’t mean retrofitting shouldn’t happen. In fact, retrofitting and re-designing are often essential where established systems exist. But think about buildings. Which is more welcoming, inclusive, and functional for the widest range of human variability: a building with stairs to the front door and a retrofitted ramp on the side, or a building with a ramp built into the design of the entrance so everyone — whether they’re in a wheelchair, pulling a suitcase, or pushing a stroller — can use the front door?

If we believe that designing from the start with the UDL framework leads to better design for all, then it makes sense for UDL to be included as part of every teacher preparation program. The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 reinforces this idea. If teacher candidates learn to design lessons, assessments, environments, materials, and methods using the UDL Guidelines as a tool for decision-making as part of their preparation and training, UDL implementation becomes less about retrofitting old practices, and more about designing for the variability of all learners right from the start.

Last night’s #UDLchat on Twitter explored this notion more through host Kimberly Coy’s questions:

  • Q1: Everyone in the educational sphere is involved in teacher preparation, both directly and indirectly. How do you see yourself within teacher prep?
  • Q2: What are some ways that classroom teachers can best support teacher candidates in their UDL journeys?
  • Q3: What part do administrators play in a student teacher’s UDL knowledge-building?
  • Q4: How might students impact a teacher candidate’s UDL adventure?

Check out the archive collected by Ron Rogers to see what our participants had to say on this topic:

How do you see the connection between teacher preparation and UDL? How can we best support our teacher candidates in designing learning experiences that address and celebrate the variability that our students bring with them? Let us know if the comments below or join the conversation using the #UDLchat hashtag on Twitter.