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UDL in 15 Minutes with Nicole Glynn and Nicole Peters

Being a UDL loner: How to persevere

We know that the best way to support the persistence of all educators as they learn about and learn to apply UDL is to provide system-wide support. For example, Nicole Glynn and Nicole Peters share how Kansas Infinitec is working to establish state-wide change through their book studies on Universal Design for Learning. But what happens if you’ve discovered Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and your district, region, or state is not talking about UDL? What if there aren’t system-wide supports to help you maintain your persistence? Outside of resources specifically about UDL, here are some research-based techniques that you can use to maintain your focus.

First, passion is a huge motivator that should not be undersold. That might seem obvious, but it’s worth restating. In their work around adult motivation for change, John Hegel and his colleagues found that those who are passionate about their craft are more likely to act as an explorer. An explorer is someone who has a long-term commitment to achieving impact in their area. Most educators (and I hope you’re one of them) came into their role because of their passion for educating students. Allow yourself to tap into that passion and recognize your inner explorer.

“Okay Loui,” you say. “What does it mean to be an explorer?” An explorer views unexpected challenges as hurdles and seeks out and connects with others to help get the answers needed. I know, I know, that doesn’t sound revolutionary, but those two pieces are really key to persevere across any type of challenge. Let’s look at it specific to UDL.

Just like the explorers who wandered the Earth since the beginning of time, you will come up against unexpected challenges. Ultimately, how you perceive those unexpected challenges determines your persistence. In the world of UDL, those unexpected challenges typically show up as, “Am I doing this right?” Here’s what makes you an explorer. After you ask, “Am I doing this right?” you reframe that question and ask, “Did my students grow as expert learners?” You are asking yourself the following questions.

  • Did I see or perceive a shift in their motivation or connection to purpose?
  • Did I observe them using resources around them?
  • Did I observe them gaining new knowledge?
  • Did they have opportunities to be strategic and demonstrate goal-directed behavior?

Any of those scenarios will let you know that you are on your way with UDL.

Another indicator of an explorer is someone who wants to connect with others who will help them identify better answers. Okay, great. You’re by yourself with UDL. Now what? The easiest thing is to check in with UDL chat on the first and third Wednesday of the month on Twitter (now known as “X”) from 6-6:30pm PT/9-9:30 ET (GMT Thu 0200). You don’t have to type in anything and you don’t even have to attend during those times. Why? Because you can enter #UDLchat into the search bar and all of the posts from former UDL chats will show up! You can bring up this YouTube video to learn how to use Twitter. Now, you can connect with a ton of UDL enthusiasts and believe me, they will want to connect with you (even if you’re not from the States).

The UDL community is full of educators who are watching learners across all demographics grow and mature. They want to connect with you to hear your stories, ideas, and questions. If you’re too nervous to start there, send me a note! You can reach me at @louilordnelson on Twitter (now, X) or (LinkedIn). If you’re reading this, you’re on my website which also has contact information.

You are not alone on your journey with UDL. There are thousands of educators around the world using this framework. We just need you to tap into your inner explorer so we can get you connected.