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Loui Lord Nelson, Ph.D.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Implementation
Home > Blog > UDL in 15 Minutes with Cherie Smith

UDL in 15 Minutes with Cherie Smith

Practice Profiles: Part of the Package

This week’s episode was recorded live during the UDL-IRN 2020 Summit on Demand for their Network and Learn Live Series. The video chat included an interview with me about UDL in 15 Minutes (how I got started with UDL and my intentional design of the podcast), the interview with Cherie, and a follow-up Q & A. I pulled the audio of the interview out to produce this posted episode because I didn’t want the conversation about practice profiles to get lost!

I learned about practice profiles the year I was at CAST for a Fellowship. CAST had a Gates Foundation grant to work with four districts on their implementation of UDL. It was an exciting project that produced some wonderful material. Brief interviews about UDL implementation with the participating school and district leaders can be found in the National Center on UDL’s YouTube playlist: UDL Implementation: A Tale of Four Districts.

The work we did with the districts utilized the work of State Implementation and Scaling-Up of Evidence Based Practices (SISEP). SISEP focuses on implementation science – what structures and actions are used, needed, and acted upon to support the effective implementation of any practice or system. The practice profile is a tool within SISEP’s broad array of materials to support the implementation process. You can find lessons about the processes of implementation science within the Active Implementation Hub and one of those lessons is on the practice profile.

As Cherie and I discuss briefly, creating a practice profile takes time and deep, deep thinking. As a group, you have to agree that there is a change to be made. That first step is not always easy! In your separate minds, you have a vision for what this change is and what it will look like in action, but those are a number of brains seeing a number of visions. The process behind the development of a practice profile gets everyone to come to consensus about what they want to see and to provide written clarification around that vision. When everyone is involved in the process of identifying what it should look like, then the descriptions can be rich and helpful to every educator. As Cherie stated, the district she is working with decided to use the principle of Representation within their practice profile and embed links to articles, videos, and the UDL framework to help solidify the examples.

Also referenced in the episode, Michael McSheehan and I developed a practice profile on behalf of the Indiana IEP Resource Center titled, Reimagining MTSS through UDL. What we thought would take a few months ended up taking almost a year to produce! Our protocol includes physical look fors as well as mindset indicators. Our protocol is meant to provide an overarching model that can be adopted and edited to fit the local context.

I’m sharing Cherie’s practice profile example from Celina and the Reimagining MTSS through UDL practice profile to show how different they can be (and should be) based on the implementation purpose. Celina’s practice profile is focused on classroom instruction whereas the MTSS and UDL practice profile is focused at the district level.

The development of the practice profile is a facilitated process and you’ll want to have someone on hand who is comfortable with the work of moving a team along when they experience disagreements and conflicts. A good facilitator helps a group move beyond the the-loudest-gets-their-way dynamic or the other challenging dynamics that can appear along the way.

Ultimately, any practice profile must be a tool for change that is grounded in clear communication and intent. It must provide a clear goal – a clear message of what the community is working toward. Within the UDL community, that intent is always going to point toward the development of expert learners.