Universal Design for Learning and Innovation Blog
My burning question: How can educators design
their classes to be more inclusive to benefit a
greater number of students?
As educators, how do we know we are doing what is best for our students? An easy answer is that we don't, but another possible solution is being mindful of who they are and how to teach them based on their own skills, background, age, and all kinds of experiences that make up the unique individuals in your classroom. In his article, “Teaching as Contemplative Professional Practice,” Flakenbeg (2012), asks teachers to be mindful of their students in a similar way that someone practicing meditation is aware of their breathing and inner thoughts. This is great while teaching, but one can assume with more experience we all get better at this with more teaching experience. It's all about knowing your audience and after a few years of teaching, it becomes easier to be aware of your audience during a lecture or class discussion. While being mindful is important during class, what about after, and what about this reflection thing that we keep telling our students to do, but we never have time to do for ourselves?
Self-Auditing for Student Success
I am a big believer in that education is never a perfect science, and we are always learning and improving our methods to best suit the needs of our ever-changing groups of students. Based on Kolb's (1984) work, and his learning cycle, we know that learning is the process of experience and reflection (Kolb, 1984, p. 38). This is why educators ask students to reflect on their experiences in the classroom. The question is, how often do teachers and instructors actually do this? Upon thinking about this, I realized that I don't take as much time to reflect after my classes on what went well, what went poorly, and how can I improve my teaching methods to be more inclusive by matching the UDL guidelines. I recently created my own self-audit or self-regulation worksheet with Excel and it has helped me to take a more student-focused approach in my Microsoft Excel class. See what I did there? I used Excel to track my Excel class marks. You could call this Excel inception!
This organizer helps me to organize my journal notes so I can self-assess and improve my lesson design if it could be more inclusive. This took a bit of work to organize, but is paying off by keeping me aware of what is working and what isn't in my teaching strategies. For the full workbook, click on the file below to download.