Sunday, August 17, 2014

Leadership, Policy, and Practice: Block 3: Systems & Structures - Chapter 6 of U.D.L

     To help us work towards our school goal of purposefully implementing the Universal Design for Learning approach to our formal planning (sometimes referred to as "Backwards by Design", "Understanding by Design", or "Planning With The End in Mind), my principal has provided our staff with a copy of Dr. Jennifer Katz's book, Teaching to Diversity: The Three-Block Model of Universal Design for Learning. As I make my way through the book, I will be summarizing my learning as a means of organizing my thoughts and getting clarification on particular ideas.

Teaching to diversity, the universal design for learning, teaching to diversity book synopsis
Teaching to Diversity Cover. (Accessed 2014). Uploaded to Amazon; Portage& Main Press. 
Available online at: http://www.amazon.ca/Teaching-Diversity-Three-Block-Universal-Learning/dp/1553793536


Policy and Practice in Ministries of Education
- The essence of the education system is still closely modelled after
  the post WWII design, which did not address inclusive education
- Inclusive education has been formally addressed by UNESCO for
  more than ten years
- Policy on Inclusive Education
     - Every province in Canada has a policy towards inclusive education
     - Manitoba's policy is called the Appropriate Educational Programming
       Act or Bill 13
       "Inclusion is a way of thinking and acting that allows every individual
        to feel accepted, valued, and safe."
     - Many times, students are placed in the classroom but are on such
       an individualized program or segregated with an EA that they are
       not involved in the social or academic life of the room
     - Inclusive classrooms help all types of students (gifted, low achieving,
       those with learning disabilities, etc)
     - Perceived lack of resources, lack of training, or unavailable support
       leads to resistance towards inclusion
     - Incorporating the Universal Design for Learning has been part of the
       Appropriate Educational Programming Act since 2005, yet many
       schools have not incorporated it
- Curriculum Development and Assessment
     - Curriculum does not always allow for cross-curricular opportunities
       which result in students sometimes covering similar topics in
       multiple classes without the teachers realizing it
     - Standardized testing has not been changed to be inclusive
- Community Education and Involvement
     - Teachers and parents should see each other as allies
     - Make sure that what you asking of families is realistic; try to find
       their strengths
     * Case Study: Jose (reading with a light box)

School Divisions: Supporting Inclusive Education
- Creating a Vision for Inclusion
     - Segregated classrooms leads teachers to believe that other teachers
       are responsible for "those students"
     - To successfully implement change, divisions need to:
           1 ) commit to and believe in inclusion
           2 ) see difference as a resource
           3 ) encourage collaboration between staff & students
           4 ) encourage willingness in staff
           5 ) approach inclusion as a social/political/academic issue
           6 ) commit to inclusive ideals
- Professional Development and Capacity-Building
     - Teachers need support and regular feedback with new ideas,
        just like students do
     - Implementing UDL on a school or divisional level requires a multi-
       year plan
     - Some tips for UDL include:
          1 ) Focus on the big picture, you can't choose to just differentiate
               assignments yet still keep students in rows. Focus on one of
               the three blocks, if needed
          2 ) Have school "experts" that have been trained in certain aspects
               and can help support others
          3 ) Bring in a professional for PD
          4 ) Follow up
- Hiring Qualified Personnel
     1 ) Teachers need to have a strong understanding of curricula
     2 ) Teachers need to mix their understanding of disabilities,
           teaching strategies, and curricula, so they know how a
           student will interpret the information
     3 ) Teachers need to take full responsibility for their students
     4 ) Teachers need to fully understand their students as 
           individuals

___________________________________________________

     I looked more into the Manitoba Education Philosophy on Inclusion, which is summarized as:
- Inclusion is a way of thinking and acting that allows every individual to
   feel accepted, valued, and safe. An inclusive community consciously
   evolves to meet the changing needs of its members.
- Through recognition and support, an inclusive community provides
   meaningful involvement and equal access to the benefits of
   citizenship
- In Manitoba, we embrace inclusion as a means of enhancing the well-
   being of every member of the community.
- The philosophy of inclusion goes beyond the idea of physical location
   and incorporates basic values and a belief system that promotes the
   participation, belonging, and interaction

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