I was probably the worst student in the classroom. Actually, second worst. The worst student was my principal. We were in the back of the classroom with our heads down on the table, laptops open doing email, talking about anything and everything but the topic at hand. And the poor teacher having to deal with two naughty kids was my dear colleague.
While co-teaching a class to pre-service educators, my colleague Jill, principal Penny, and I all brought strengths to this class, weaving together our passions with the required content. To that end, Jill was beyond passionate about UDL. Penny and I, who had not been trained on UDL nor bit by the UDL bug, “let” Jill teach this UDL thing to our pre-service teachers while we worked on other, more pressing things, during our 3-hour class.
Sometimes, like our students, we are not ready to hear or embrace something new. For me, UDL was just that thing. Overwhelmed with a class full of big personalities, students with major trauma, and children with undiagnosed learning and behavioral disabilities, my mind and educational heart was not ready to tackle UDL. My entire focus was on creating a physically and emotionally safe environment… all… year… long!
Fortunately, Jill’s passion was overwhelmingly strong. She invited me multiple times to learn about UDL, engage in UDL, understand the power of UDL, become a UDL practitioner and advocate. What finally brought me to the table was a clear mind and heart ready to embrace UDL– in the educational world, that time is also known as summer break! Having an insanely difficult year behind me, I knew I needed to renew my heart and passion for education, and there it was– UDL!
As a classroom teacher, as someone who conducts staff professional development, as someone who works with pre-service educators, I continually need to remind myself that not everyone is ready to embrace something new. When our minds and hearts are ready, just the right thing will be there for you. Just waiting. Maybe you’ll have a Jill in your life whose infectious passion will overwhelm you. I hope everyone is that lucky.