Hell0! This week we are excited to showcase the efforts of a third grade teacher and his team out in Sequoia Elementary. Tyler Yost, one of our amazing new teachers, writes about his initial experiences incorporating Universal Design for Learning as a design lens for his instruction. He dove in head first with us last year during connecting in with our 3rd grade pilot team mid year. Hope you enjoy his story!
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I had the great opportunity of joining a third grade team at Sequoia Elementary who were just starting their journey of Universal Design for Learning. As a brand new and young teacher, there are many challenges you face without having classroom experience. For most new teachers, like myself, the challenge is always classroom management. How do I have all of these different minds, personalities, needs, and more from each of my students, and make it all work? That is why I feel so fortunate to have landed in such a great position of a UDL pilot team.
New teachers are just trying to figure out how this “teaching” thing works. UDL gave me direction and the opportunity to take risks in my classroom. Originally, I thought UDL is never going to work. If I give up control, have a flexible moving classroom, give kids options, there is going to be CHAOS.
Which at times, there was. “Organized” chaos as I would like to call it.
"Originally, I thought UDL is never going to work. If I give up control, have a flexible moving classroom, give kids options, there is going to be CHAOS."
What I started to find through lots of trial and error however, is that empowering students and creating a culture that shows you have a voice, options, and have something to offer, can lead to some really great things.
I started used the UDL guidelines more of an assessment of how I am running my classroom. Especially focusing on how are my students engaged? Starting from the beginning, looking at specifically 7.2, and 7.3. In a nutshell why does what they are learning matter to my students? Is it relevant? Also, is my classroom safe and set up in a way they are focused and not distracted?
"What I started to find through lots of trial and error however, is that empowering students and creating a culture that shows you have a voice, options, and have something to offer, can lead to some really great things."
It was the little things that ended up making the biggest differences. Being intentional about how my classroom is set up, the supplies and supports they have, and how they interact and move within the classroom. As I have moved into my second year with more experience of UDL, I have seen my classroom management improve, student learning improve, and seen how much a universally designed classroom can change things for students.
Amy Williams & Zach Smith
District Leads for Universal Design for Learning
Sanger unified school district
Curriculum & Instruction department