A year with COVID-19 has taught us many lessons and surfaced many challenges, including the way we have approached professional learning. Gone are the days of one-and-done professional learning events. We now know that providing educators with a list of workshops to choose from simply based on “what sounds good” can lead to disconnected, single event learning opportunities with little impact on the school organization’s targeted key results for student success.
The Supporting Inclusive Practices (SIP) project, as a collaborative statewide effort amongst team members from the Riverside County Office of Education and El Dorado County Office of Education, provides, in part, technical assistance rooted in intentional re/design of systems and supports at all levels to connect new learning to direct implementation. The most requested support is with implementation of universal design for learning (UDL) as a framework to create flexible learning environments that maximize choice, so that each and every student can learn in the way they learn best
The Arcadia Unified School District in Los Angeles County is among the growing number of districts implementing UDL in our state. Knowing a one- or two-day UDL workshop would not suffice, Dr. Katherine Mahoney, Director of Special Education, offered this of their intentional design across several years: “With the support of the SIP team, the time AUSD students with disabilities spent in general education settings increased by more than 28% over five years. In 2019 the academic performance for students with disabilities increased in English Language Arts by 13.4% and in Math by 8.4% on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.”
The Poway Unified School District in San Diego County is on this same path for UDL implementation. Megan Gross, Teacher on Special Assignment, shared, “In 2021 we partnered with SIP to begin a professional learning series focused on UDL that will continue through the 2022 school year. Our goal is to provide 31 schools (elementary and middle) the instructional design tools to increase access to general education for all students.”
California’s educators are moving beyond one-off workshops after seeing sustained, measurable outcomes for all students with ongoing coaching and scaling of UDL over time. It is this work that is the heart of SIP! Learn more about UDL on the SIP website, which offers access to archived resources and free professional learning events.
Kristin Brooks, Ed.D.,
Supporting Inclusive Practices (SIP)