Using TeachMeet to Share UDL
Sharing information with your colleagues during the course of a normal school year is tough, much less during this time of COVID-19. Elish Sheridan’s school, though, uses a technique that has suited them well when it comes to sharing practices informed by UDL. They use a meeting style called TeachMeet.
TeachMeet is a way of sharing information via short bursts. Ranging from 2-minute to 7-minute presentations, these bursts can go quickly! Another style within the TeachMeet format is roundtables. These are facilitated, have a central theme, and last about 15 minutes. In all cases, there is a backchannel so people who are not there in person can participate (e.g., listen, respond, or post questions). None of this is firmly defined; rather, the format changes based on the number of people, the venue, and organizer preferences. Hmm, sounds like context has a lot to do with it! (for more information, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TeachMeet).
TeachMeet got its start over in Scotland back in 2006 and it has spread around the world. Just search for TeachMeet in your browser and you’ll see lots of different examples around the world. The outcomes The Kingswood Community College have experienced from using this format have been fabulous (as noted by their UDL Tips & Ideas document).
This podcast, though, got me thinking more about UDL and TeachMeet. I started to imagine what kind of TeachMeet presentations I would want to do. That sent me back to my perpetual cycle of “how to best talk about UDL”.
We all want to share and hear about strategies. But strategies have to be rooted within a framework or system so there’s an overall direction. In the case of UDL, that overall direction is to support the growth of expert learners. We have the UDL Guidelines graphic organizer which guides our use of the principles, guidelines, and checkpoints to design learning experiences, but if we leave it there, there is the chance that some colleagues won’t understand the deeper reason as to why we make those design choices.
That growth towards expert learning can’t happen for all learners unless there is physical, social-emotional, and academic accessibility. That accessibility doesn’t happen without the flexibility of materials and our interpretation of what can and should happen in a learning environment. All of that needs to be guided by goals. And then there’s choice, which isn’t choice unless it’s rooted in accessibility and flexibility. And it’s all given that extra “umph” when we recognize that we need to provide rigorous learning if we want to really support the growth of expert learners. Usually, I use a tree analogy to talk through all of this, but now I’m thinking about it in a TeachMeet way. Little 2- or 7-minute bursts of information and then a 15-minute facilitated roundtable where currently utilized strategies and systems either align (or not) with the each of the areas I mentioned (accessibility, flexibility, goals, choice, and rigor). Could be interesting. If you want more information, I dug more into each of these areas in a previous blog. And, if you give this a shot, let me know how it goes! Of course, you know I’ll ask you to be a guest. We need to keep pushing UDL out there in quality ways because every learner deserves the opportunity to become an expert learner.