Cultural Variability: A UDL Perspective


>>It’s 3:30 Eastern time. What time is it in Hawaii, Kavita?>>It is 9:30 in the morning.>>Good morning [laughter]. I like the joke that, you know — I think — but it’s probably old, is we won’t
tell you what happens yet today. So thank you all for joining us. This is our CAST free webinar series. Today, we have a really exciting
conversation about cultural variability. It’s actually part two. Part one was about a year ago with Loui
Lord Nelson and Joni Degner, and today, we’ve expanded the conversation,
which we hope will continue to expand, to include Dr. James-Etta and Kavita Rao. And we’ll introduce them in just a moment. I do just want to preface with
what we described a little bit in the introduction, that we all have stories. We all have narratives that result from our
background experiences, and our environments. We also have implicit biases, or
subtle, unconscious understandings that influence our actions and our decisions. And as educators working with incredible
diversity of students each day, we’re really hoping to discuss today how
we can become more aware of our stories, and really try to design our environments that
embrace every learner’s story from the get-go, from the beginning, so that it
empowers each for high-level learning. So we’ll think about how we can better
understand our own implicit biases and our students. We’ll really try to break down some
concrete strategies for you all today for how we can design in ways that really
help unbox individuals and empower learners. So I’m priming you with that word unbox
today, to kind of pay attention to that. So before we officially introduce
our panelists and get rolling, we, as I mentioned, want this to be a conversation. So please contribute today. You can use the text chat box,
so you can open that channel from the center top part of your zoom window. And you can choose all panelists and attendees
— folks already, so go ahead and try that out. And you could also share through Twitter. So our panelists are already taking selfies
you can share in any way that you would like, and you can follow our panelists
today on Twitter. So you can see — so you can
see that information on there. Follow Dr. James-Etta, Joni Degner, Loui Lord
Nelson, Kavita, to get in touch with you. So I love that you said that even
though you work a lot with ed tech, you don’t have a Twitter,
which is absolutely fine. So you can be in touch with any
of us, and we will nudge Kavita. And we will get her in touch with you today. And we have a lot of resources that
we’re going to share with you all today, and so we’ve compiled a handout for that, a digital handout that will have
all of the resources for you. So when you try to click on the screen,
on the zoom, it’s not going to work. So don’t fret. Don’t worry. We have some fabulous back-channel folks. Mindy Johnson [assumed spelling] —
you can see her picture on the panel. Mindy Johnson’s here from CAST, and she’s going to be monitoring the chat
box, monitoring Twitter. She’s Superwoman for back channel. So please let us know if a resource
that we’ve mentioned is not there, and we’ll make sure to make
that available for you. I want to thank Alli Berg [assumed spelling], who helps get all of this set
up and running so smoothly. It’s like we don’t even know
you’re there, which is right, but you’ve done a lot to get that happening. And I also want to thank our captioner, who
is working to caption our conversation today. Thank you so much for being there. So with that, I would like to — also,
actually, I also want to recognize that this conversation will be recorded. So if you need to leave in the middle, or if
you know someone else who might enjoy listening to it, or you just want to hear the
conversation over and over again, please know that it will be recorded. So for those of you who are listening to
the recording, a great way to continue to participate in the conversation
is through Twitter. So we invite you, even if you’re listening to
this — not live, but the recorded version, please share during Twitter, or via Twitter. So any other little logistical questions
or thoughts before we get started? All right, great. Thanks. Well, then, welcome to our panelists. I’m so excited to have you all here today, and
we’re going to introduce in a different way. So I’m going to let Joni kick it off.>>Hey, it’s my pleasure. I’m going to introduce Kavita Rao. And Kavita’s a professor at the
University of Hawaii College of Education. She’s also a member of CAST
professional learning cadre. Kavita’s research and teaching focuses
on technology, UDL, and online learning, and she enjoys working with teachers to design
instruction that supports a range of learners, including culturally and linguistic-diverse
students, and students with disabilities. Kavita’s published several articles and book
chapters about UDL, and she is the co-author of a book that we’re looking forward to
on UDL for English-language learners, which will be published by CAST soon. So, welcome to Kavita, and
it’s my honor to introduce her.>>Thank you, Joni. I get to introduce James-Etta now. I have the honor of introducing
Dr. James-Etta Goodloe. James-Etta is a culture coach who specializes
in providing cultural awareness workshops and trainings to schools,
districts, and organizations. She helps her clients become fully
aware of personal bias and assumptions through guided self-reflection and coaching. James-Etta’s work as a culturally-responsive
teaching consultant for a state agency, and she has collaborated with
the agency’s UDL consultant. Together, they co-presented at CAST’s
third annual Symposium for Social Justice, where they encouraged participants to stay woke.>>Thank you, and I will
be introducing Joni Degner. Joni is a full-time UDL facilitator for
Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation, BCSC, in Columbus, Indiana, a member of
the CAST professional learning cadre, and an internationally-recognized
expert in universal design for learning. Joni is also an independent consultant
who specializes in providing UDL and cultural responsive workshops and trainings
to schools, districts, and organizations.>>Oh, it’s me again. I’m sorry. I forgot that I’m like the bookend of this. Sorry. I really was actually paying attention. So it’s my pleasure to introduce Loui. Loui Lord Nelson is an educational
consultant who focuses on the implementation of
UDL to benefit all learners. She provides implementation planning
sessions and workshops on UDL, and holds multi-year contracts
with schools, districts, and government agencies around the world. Loui is the author of two fabulous
books on UDL, “Design and Deliver, Planning and Teaching Using UDL,” and
her latest book with Patti Ralabate, “Cultural Responsive Design for English
Language Learners, a UDL Approach.” And we’re also, again, looking forward to
another resource from Loui, her third book, which will be published by CAST soon.>>Yeah, thank you all for — go ahead.>>No.>>Thank you all for sharing that introduction,
and I want — we did this very purposefully. So I’m hoping as the conversation goes
on today, that you all maybe think about where your heads were when
these introductions were happening. And how we did introductions
at the very beginning with you all via the Twitter
conversation, and what you all shared, and what was shared in those introductions. So, again, our goals today are to better
understand our own stories and implicit biases, and gain strategies to design our
contexts to empower learning for all. And we’re hoping that you all
came with some goals that you hope to learn from the conversation today. So please feel free to contribute what
you hope to learn from the conversation, and if it’s something that we’re not covering
through the conversation, we’ll make sure, again, to continue that conversation afterwards. We thought we would begin with a quote,
and Loui, I’ll let you speak to this quote.>>This was a quote that I read just recently,
and I thought it had some nice imagery in it. But “Bias is woven through culture
like a silver cord woven through cloth. In some lights, it’s brightly visible. In others, it’s hard to distinguish. And your position relative to that glistening
thread determines whether you see it at all.” And I just thought that was a really nice way to
open ourselves to this consideration of culture, and thinking about the fact
that what we see really depends on where we are positioned relative. And it’s just a really nice
fit with variability, also, because that variability is our
relationship with the context. So we have a nice enmeshment of those
concepts right here within the quote.>>And one of the things that we’re
hoping to continue to build out today is to really share multiple representations
of think about implicit bias. So this right here gives us a visual
representation of implicit bias. It gives us a text quote to think
about, and I want to invite James-Etta to share a little bit more, another
representation for thinking about implicit bias.>>Yes, thank you, Allison. So I created this infographic to kind of
partner with what the quote was saying, to really visualize that
when we draw assumptions — you know, which is on the surface — that
we are putting individuals into boxes. And so, I purposely put the brain smaller in
the center, because as we box in individuals, we are really not expanding in
our thinking and in our mindset. It’s staying stuck and staying stagnant. And so, implicit bias — it is those
direct and those indirect messages that we really get very early
on in our development, you know, whether we really realize them or not. And so, because these messages are received
very early, they appear to be accepted, because it’s within our comfort zone, within
our group, our norm, our family, our circle. And so these messages then
help to shape our thinking, and it ultimately also shapes
how we then view the world. So when we place labels, and we put boxes
on individuals, we are really not opening up ourselves to see beyond the surface, and
we’re placing assumptions and judgments simply because we’re just seeing the surface, and
then unknowingly having these implicit biases. And so, one way that you can kind of just start
tapping into your own implicit bias to kind of see, you know, where you stand,
and if you have them, which we all do, is that I encourage you to take the
implicit bias quiz that was created by a group of researchers at Harvard. And it’s called Project Implicit,
and that link will be shared in the resources at the end of this webinar.>>Yeah, I’ve done that test, and, you
know, it’s — like all tests, it — you know, there are limitations to
what it does, but it’s fascinating to launch reflection and discussion. It really is. It’s fascinating to really be able to start — I think it really can give you some data
to be able to use to reflect on yourself. Did you want to comment as well, Joni? It looked like –>>Oh, I was just going to say, you know, one
of the things that I think is kind of important to know about those implicit bias tests
is that they’re so intensely personal. And so it really is something that you
kind of want to do in a personal setting, a private setting, I think, and then,
you know, to look at those results. And sometimes, they’re tough
to look at, because you have — you know, they’re implicit
because they’re sort of hidden. So you might not realize that you have some
of the biases that maybe it points out to you, but then the — I think the important work
to do after that is really start thinking about how do these show up
in my learning environment? How do these show up in my interactions
with my colleagues and my learners?>>Exactly. And so as we then — we’re
going to start sharing — each of us, we’re going to just share
some background about our implicit bias and our stories, to really just help bring forth
that silver cord that Loui talked about earlier, how it’s weaved into our upbringing,
to our personality, to our learning. And so we’re going to start sharing,
and I’m going to share my story first.>>Yay! Thank you.>>You have the next slide ready, Allison?>>Oh, right. I was getting so ready to listen and enjoy it. Yes [laughter].
>>Okay. It’s all good. It’s all good.>>Thank you for trying to load the executive
function scaffolding, but — [laughter].>>Okay, well, today is Thursday,
and in true throwback fashion, I decided to put up a couple of
throwback pictures of myself. And I did this to help give a visual
of my background and my upbringing. Because as we all introduced each
other at the beginning, you know, we come with all these academic accolades,
and these backgrounds, and different things. But really, we each have a back story,
and so what’s going to happen is that we’re going to start sharing. And my back story really starts — all
through my K-12 experience, I was labeled. I was in a box. I was labeled an at-risk student, and I was
at-risk because I was low academic achieving. I was not engaged in my learning,
so I had behavior issues. On more than one occasion, I was
suspended due to those behavior issues. Yes, not proud, but it’s true,
and it’s part of my story. And so, some of the labeling
that I received was — you know, it just really
affected me unconsciously. I didn’t really know it at the time. So I wasn’t engaged. I didn’t think that I could really
go beyond high school, even though, growing up, education was very important. It was placed high on the value system, as far
as me being raised by my great-grandparents, but the model that was set before me was to
simply go to school, complete high school, then get a job, which primarily meant
in a service industry of some sort. I grew up in a small, rural community, so
there was a lot of farming or production work. And so you would get that job, and you
would stay on that job until you retired. You know, 20, 30 years, get the gold watch,
and the Cadillac, and you would just, you know, collect your retirement check,
and just live a simple life. But I knew early on that
that did not work for me. So I took the long way around, the long route to
really not become so biased against education, because I didn’t see myself
fitting beyond high school. But it was through the encouragement
of my best friend, which — she and I were in the class picture. We’re in the third grade together. She’s in the blue trousers on the front row, and
I’m in the striped turtleneck right behind her. And then, it’s the two of us
at high school graduation. And so, her upbringing — even though we grew up
together, her father was a high school teacher. He taught science. He was also a basketball coach. And so, she knew very early that she was
going to go, not only beyond high school, but to college and also graduate school. So it took her encouragement to help me to see
beyond my circumstances and my limitations. And so, now, as opposed to
being biased against education, I’m now very passionate about education. And I’m still at-risk, but this time, I am at
risk of making a positive impact on the world. And I am doing that in my
work as a culture coach. So I wanted to just use this as an example of
my story of how my bias against education — it took me to have a great deal of life
experience, and also encouragement, to really see beyond my limitations
and kick down the doors of any box that any label wanted to put me in. So that’s a little bit about
my background and my story. Now, Joni is going to share
with you some of her story.>>Yeah. So there’s some of
my throwback pictures, right? The — you know, a lot of — the
setting of your story is quite familiar, because I grew up in a really
small, rural, Midwestern town. I attended a school where my dad
had been previously a teacher and a legendary football coach, and so our
name meant something in that really small town. I grew up in the same house
from the time that — you know, I don’t remember ever living
anywhere else until I went to college. And we probably kind of looked like
the embodiment of the American Dream. My mom stayed home with us. We had a lot of family around. I always had homework checkers,
you know, around me, to make sure I was doing
what I was supposed to do. I had two older siblings that I watched
go through high school and straight to a four-year college without question. I already sort of knew without,
you know, coming out of a chute that that’s — that was my path as well. And the interesting thing is, when
I really think about that story, and I think about that environment that I
grew up in, and I think about my education, is that when I was going to school, that was when academic tracking
was — that was the practice. And so, I went to school in this small
Midwestern town with kids who appeared to look like me and live just like
me and learn just like me. And so, my idea of the way that people did
school and did life became pretty narrow, I think, because I was in environments time
and time again that just reinforced that story, that this is how people do life,
this is how people do school. And so, the interesting thing is that, then
getting into teaching, and being in environments where academic tracking was still very much
a widespread practice, I ended up having some of my initial field experiences teaching
AP classes and college prep classes. Which, again, it sounds so peculiar, but I ended
up being put into one environment after another that continued to reinforce these ideas
of, kids come to school ready to learn, and people have homework checkers at
home, and people grow up in a home similar to mine, and with similar expectations. It was just so — when — looking
back, it sounds pretty Pollyanna to me, and it’s sometimes difficult to say that. The first year that I was
assigned to my own classroom — again, a situation with academic
tracking at the forefront. I was assigned to teach four
sections of basic sophomore English. So it was the kind of class that
kids were taking two and three times with the biggest emphasis on passing
that state standardized test. It did not take me long to realize, in that
first year of teaching, that not all kids come to school ready to learn, and that
certainly not all kids grow up and live the way that I had lived. So, after the first couple of days of
school, it was a real awakening to realize that my students didn’t go school shopping, and
they didn’t have supplies, and supplies weren’t, like, coming in a couple of days. Like, they weren’t coming. And that not all students felt like — that
my homework assignments were as important or as engaging as I did, and I can
remember feeling like I was at a real loss. Like, where were their homework checkers? And the real push and pull for me was
that I felt like I was playing school, I was playing teacher, and
they weren’t playing student. But that notion of playing student, again,
for me, was created by those environments where my implicit bias was born,
and where my implicit bias continued to be reinforced time and time again. So my students were challenging
that implicit bias, and I was lucky enough to
have a really great mentor. I also — if you know me,
you know that I have a hunger for professional learning,
and kind of expanding that. And so, because of those couple of
things, and a great mentor who advised me to drop the test talk, that these kids are —
that’s, first of all, not a high expectation, but that it also is not something
that leads to something really great for these kids beyond this course. So at that advice, I did. I dropped the test talk, and we started
focusing on building relationships. We started focusing on their writing skills,
their reading skills, and what I found was that, when I stopped thinking about, how
do I get these kids to play student, and really start focusing
on connecting with them? That I realized that there is real
power in connection, moreso — far moreso than there will
ever be in compliance. And so, for me, I think that is —
that’s — that becomes, like, my story, and it really is why UDL resonated with me so
much, is because I didn’t have the language to marry with that experience at the time. But looking back, it is kind of like, well,
that’s when I learned about engagement. That’s when I learned about relationships,
and that’s when I learned about — that that notion that everybody — every kid deserves to have high
expectations and ways to reach those.>>Loui, do you want to share your story?>>Sure.>>And I’m hoping, as we listen, that you start
making personal connections to your stories, that you start thinking, again,
back to this idea of the cord, the silver cord that’s being
woven through like cloth. Think cloth — thinking about the
boxes, and unboxing, thinking, again, about what these different takeaways might —
how they might resonate with you and your story. Okay, thank you, Loui.>>Sure. So I became aware of the
definition and the concept of implicit bias when I was doing my doctoral work. And so, I was fortunate to have this time,
and this space, and facilitated discussions to reflect on my own implicit biases,
and how they affected my teaching. And I was fresh out of my role as a middle
school collaborative special education teacher, and I had been recognized as
somebody who advocated for my students to work alongside their peers in
the classroom and in the community. And — but now, I was learning that I had these
implicit biases, and that they limited how, and what, and for whom I advocated. And so, during that same program, I was — I
had time, and I got to work with parent leaders from the black, and Hmong,
and Hispanic communities. And they came from places like New Orleans,
and Watts, California, and Kansas City, and they shared their stories of
advocacy, and the struggle they went through to get services for their children. And then — led me to reflect on my own advocacy
efforts with my students, and it made me see that it wasn’t a question of
whether implicit might have — implicit bias might have gotten in the way. It was in my way, and I came to
realize that how I advocated for some of my students was different
than how I advocated for others. And it hurt, and it was embarrassing. But I participated in some really good
conversations with others, and they helped me from establishing this stance
of defensiveness to rather one of acceptance and forward thinking. It also helped that around the same time, I was
reading the book that you can see on the screen, “Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting
Together In The Cafeteria,” by Beverly Tatum. And I took the opportunities that she offered
throughout that book to reflect on things from identity developing to
supporting cross-cultural conversation. And I really like to get things right. That can be kind of a problem,
sometimes, in my professional life. And there’s a quote that’s
in her book that really stood out for me, and it’s in the second edition. It’s in the third one, also. That’s the one you see pictured. But the quote references racism, but I think
it also applies to this tone of implicit bias. And it starts with Beverly
Tatum saying that, you know, somebody’s saying, “What if I make a mistake?” You might be thinking, racism
is a volatile issue, and I don’t want to say or do the wrong thing. Well, then she continues and goes on to say
that in her nearly 20 years of teaching, at that time, and leading workshops about
racism, she says, “I have made many mistakes. I found that a sincere apology
and a genuine desire to learn from one’s mistakes are usually
rewarded with forgiveness. If we wait for perfection, we
will never break the silence. The cycle of racism will continue.” And I think the same is true
when we talk about implicit bias. Ultimately, my foundational work at KU
and my continued work around implicit bias and other connected subsets of
culturally-responsive teaching — that’s helped me develop my attitudes and
beliefs specific to UDL implementation, and have been front and center when I’m working
with educators within and outside of the U.S. So now I’m excited to hear Kavita’s story.>>And thank you for those of you
who are sharing in the chat box. Feel free to share to everyone, if you do
want that story to go out a little more, or you can post just to panelists. Thanks, Kavita. Oh, yes.>>The slide — okay. Okay. So I’m going to tell you a story from a
child’s perspective, and that’s a picture of me around the age when I immigrated
to the U.S. from India. So you’ll see I came pretty
much halfway across the world, from India to North Carolina
— Raleigh, actually. I was in the fourth grade, and
it was 1980 when I moved over. So I was really lucky, because I — my parents
put me in a public school for fourth grade, and I had this wonderful teacher who really,
really wanted to make me feel welcome. And the school was — I think I was the only
Asian kid that I remember in the school. There probably were more, but in my
fourth-grade class, I was the only kid who didn’t look like anybody else. And my teacher was wonderful. She really wanted to unpack
that, and make that — make me feel like one of the kids
in the class, and help me assimilate to being an American kid
when I had just moved over. So my story is going to be about some
assumptions that she made that weren’t correct, even though she was really trying to
do her best, and they were really — the strategies that she used were really good. But I’m going to talk a little bit about how
all the different — students are not the same, and so some of the assumptions
that she made didn’t work for me. So my story is about an assignment in our social
studies class, where we were having a discussion about something related to culture or history. I don’t remember what. But in the middle of class, she
turned to me, and she said to me, “How do you say that in your language?” And I just froze, because I didn’t
actually have the vocabulary to say what we had been talking
about in my home language. I also spoke English, so I had — I went to
school in India — an English-medium school, so I was able to say things in English, but
I didn’t have the fluency in my home language to say it, because my parents spoke
a couple of different languages. So I — that was a very uncomfortable
situation for me. And the other thing that was going on for
me at that age — I was nine years old. I just wanted to fit in, so I actually
didn’t want to be called out and asked how to say that in a different language. What Ms. Kay, my teacher, was doing
was actually a really good strategy. It’s a culturally-responsive strategy
that we do teach educators to do, to connect language and bring
it into the classroom. But in that particular case, it
didn’t work for me, because I just — my goal was to fit in, and all of a sudden, I was being asked to say something
that I wasn’t prepared to say. Another thing going on for me was that I
was a really shy kid, so it was hard for me to be put on the spot with something. So now, when I look back on what
happened in that situation, I realize, oh, Ms. Kay was such a great teacher. She was really trying to pull
me in and make me comfortable. But in this particular case and in this
context, that was not how I felt as a child. So I just wanted to kind of pull out
how it — as we go on in this webinar, we’re going to talk a little
bit about how UDL can come in, to help us think about the
variability of our learners. So even if you have students who are
culturally diverse in your classroom, there’s going to be variation and
variability amongst even the language learners or the culturally diverse
learners in your classroom. And the really cool thing that UDL can
do for that is, you can take things like culturally-relevant pedagogy and — for
instance, Loui has a wonderful book on many, many strategies that you can use. You can use all those strategies, and they’re
really good strategies to use with students. But, if you layer that with the
lens of UDL, you can start thinking about how to make that student-centric. So, for example, what Ms. Kay could have done in
my situation — she was using a great strategy, but some ways to make that more comfortable for
me would’ve been to have some flexible options. So one of those might be letting me
know the day before that she was going to bring in something with language. That way, I could’ve gone home and
asked my parents, “How do you say this?” Or had a few things to say. She could have made it something where other
kids were asked to say something personal from their backgrounds, so that I
didn’t feel so much on the spot. So, again, what Ms. Kay was doing was wonderful. It just — but in that particular
context for me, that was tough. And another thing that you really focus
on with UDL is that context matters. So depending on what context the child is in,
some strategies may work and some may not work. So, for example, I now work in Hawaii,
where there are many, many diverse students in every classroom, and there are some kids who
will immigrate, and they’ll be happy to bring in their personal experiences,
and their language, and their — they’re gregarious, and they’re extroverted. They want to talk about things. And then, there’s other kids
who have just immigrated who are really shy and quiet, like I was. So I encourage teachers — do those strategies,
but think about how you can make them flexible. Because these kids are coming from
different contexts, different backgrounds. You can’t assume that all of the
kids who are culturally diverse or linguistically diverse
respond to the same strategies. So I’ll stop there and let Loui,
or Joni, or James-Etta jump in.>>Well, I’ll just jump in really
quick to tackle the first dilemma of how can we better understand our own
implicit bias, and what Kavita just said as far as us being flexible with our
offerings and options with students. We also need to have that same
flexibility with ourselves, because this is a learning opportunity for us
to just grow, and to get a deeper understanding of who we are, and how we can better serve our
students that come from various backgrounds, that come from various circumstances. And so, one way that we can better
understand our own implicit bias is truly to be courageous enough, to be brave
enough to go through the process, that process of self-examination. As Loui talked about earlier, how — you know, in the book, you don’t
want to do something wrong. You don’t want to be seen as making a mistake. But that’s where the learning comes from. And so we have to be flexible
and open with our own self, to really tap into that self-examination,
that reflective piece, to really kind of sit with some of our implicit
bias to become aware of them. Because when we operate in such a way, and we’ve
been doing it for so long, we become unaware. And so, we don’t know that what we just said
could’ve been highly offensive and deeply, you know, degrading to someone
else, and so we don’t know that. And so we have to become aware, but then we
also have to get a little bit uncomfortable. Because in that awareness, it
might trigger some sort of reaction that we might not have anticipated,
particularly when you talk about reflecting over our own biases and over
our own assumptions. But that’s where you will need, you
know, a guide, or someone that has been through that process, to help you
navigate, to get to the other side, to really see the benefit of the learning. So then, you can better be able to serve
students, and then you will be able to have a clearer understanding
of not only yourself, but also have multiple lenses,
as Kavita had mentioned. You know, only if her teacher had
understood how it was for her as a student, being new to that school, to
be put on the spot like that. And so, what I recommend as far as how do we
tackle this dilemma, is to be brave enough and also to be flexible with our own self first.>>And I do just want to call out — there’s a very interesting comment that said
we should be uncomfortable when we’re learning. Right? And I think that’s –>>Right.>>– such a great point, that not
only are we learning content — we recognize that could push us, but we’re
also on these personal journeys, which — where some of the most important
learning can take place.>>Yes. Yes.>>So I’ll kind of piggyback on this,
and sort of talk about, you know, how do we kind of continue to
understand our own implicit biases, and unbox people to empower great learning? And, you know, one of the things that you’ve
seen on several of our slides is pictures of us from when we were younger, so those parts of
our stories that really make up who we are. But a lot of that comes from — I
love this term, and it’s not my term. It’s from a — people I’ve done other training
with, where they talk about doing me-search, and so really looking at
— you know, I don’t know. Who am I, and what is my story? And then thinking about, well,
how does that story sort of play out in my interactions and
in my learning environments? And that really is, I think, what the four of
us have done as we’ve put together this webinar, is we’ve done some of that me-search,
and really thinking about, who am I? What is my story, and how does
that shape the way that I do work, and the way that interact with people today? And I think that the — we’ve talked
about the implicit bias tests, and I think that those are — I mean, those
are a couple of ways to really continue to get to know your implicit biases,
and to embrace the framework, not just for your students,
but also for yourself. There are lots of different
ways to do me-search. I mean, like, we’re doing it this way, right, and putting these pictures
together, and talking about it. But think about applying the framework to
yourself, and thinking about what are some ways that you can construct your own narrative,
to learn from your own narrative. I had a college professor that I did research
for in college, and he wrote his own textbooks. And one of his textbooks was called “Narration
as Knowledge,” and I love that phrase. Because I do think that we derive a
lot of learning from storytelling. And so, I would say, you know, one
of the things that Kavita touched on also is really embracing the framework — the UDL framework, so that we help our
students also tell their own stories. And leverage the framework so that storytelling
looks like a lot of different things, that it’s — you don’t have
to write me an essay. You don’t have to do a webinar. You don’t have to put together pictures of your
— you know, old pictures of your family — that that looks like a lot of different
things, so that we can engage our students, so that they have some voice in
what they want that to look like.>>One of the things that resonated with me as
you all were sharing your story was thinking about how the environment
was narrowing and boxing. Not only are we boxing potentially our own
selves, but the environment itself can be a box. And so I think thinking about how we
can get out of those roles that we play, and try to not only have flexibility
with ourselves, but also then extend that out to the environment a little bit.>>I’ll just also add there that one
of the essential tenets of UDL is that learner variability is the norm. So one of the things we can do is take the
things that we think about our students, and then also remember that there’s
individual variability for all of our students. And so, when you start looking beyond
what you see, what the student looks like, what they present as, we all
know how we’re all different. And so, as a teacher, you can delve deeper
into, oh, this kid is actually very shy, or this kid really likes doing things this way. And how can we build that into
the activities that you do? So some of it — I wanted to point
out that, like, in the example — my example, my teacher’s biases weren’t bad. They were not negative things. She was actually — her bias
was almost positive. She wanted to help me, as the child who was
a little bit different and just coming in. So this was not a negative bias. So I just wanted to bring that point in,
that they’re not always bad or negative, but we can go further into who our
students are as individuals as well.>>I just want to also add that there really
is — I mean, we’ve probably all discovered it, I think, at some point, and
hopefully you have or will. But there is real power in telling your
own story, and whether that’s for — I mean, I think that’s true
for all of us, for our — and we have to remember that for the
students that sit in front of us, too. When somebody else’s assumptions tell
your story, that robs you of power. And you’ve probably had that happen to you
before, where someone else told a story about you, or their assumptions told your
story, and that feels incredibly disempowering. And, like Kavita said, sometimes that is not — it’s not intentional, and
sometimes it’s not always negative, that someone else’s assumptions tell our story. So making sure that our students have an
opportunity to discover their own stories, and tell their own stories, is one
way to really empower learning.>>I’m even just struck with, again, the difference in having you
all read each other’s bios versus you all telling your stories. I mean, they’re just — they’re
very different, fundamentally.>>So I came at this from the
point of view of knowing your base. So Patricia Devine — she’s at
the University of Wisconsin, and she runs the prejudice
and inter-group relations lab. And she was being interviewed,
actually, for that “Atlantic” article that I pulled the quote from at the beginning. And so, the author of that article,
in their conversation about the base, and how those base can become our habits —
Jessica Nordell had written, “Humans see age, and gender, and skin color,” and
then I would add, some disabilities. “And that’s our vision. That’s what we see.” Humans have an association about
those categories, and that’s culture. And then, humans use these
associations to make judgments. And so, Patricia Devine believes
that these judgments then — now become habit, and sometimes you can
get engaged in it without even knowing it. So your job is to look for
where you have these habits. We’ve all heard probably the
joke, the story from the past. You know, who’s the surgeon? And then you find out that it’s the mom. But something you can do is, when
you’re reading a news article, and there are no images attached
to that news article. But maybe that article is about a
dispute, or an act of generosity, or a community leader, or a family conflict. And just stop yourself, and
— what were the images? What — who played that out in your head? And if you go back and do a quick scan of
the article, were there any descriptors there that led you to have those images? But it’s remembering that much of what
we do in daily life, but then also, as attached to implicit bias, is based on habit. So we have to take that step back and
become extremely conscious and aware of what we’re doing on a daily and
moment-to-basis, in some cases.>>And so I’m — just because I work at
CAST, but I’m just super interested, too, to know how the UDL framework — and
I know you’ve talked about goals. You’ve talked about flexible environments. We’ve talked about variability. All of those are words that are
just core to the values of UDL. But if we actually step back and
think about the UDL framework as this intentional design process, that looks to design the
environment, not change the individual. Thinking about goals, supporting variability,
changing that environment through the lens of multiple means of engagement,
representation, and action and expression. How do you find that this
framework can really help to help us to address these implicit biases, help us feel
a little more comfortable in our discomfort, which we are wanting to have, so that we can
start working through these conversations?>>So one of the things that I think is
so brilliant about the UDL framework is that it kind of gives you a lens to think
about the things you’re already doing, and kind of analyze, like, what else could
I be doing to make this more flexible, or more comfortable for more learners. So again, going back to my example, if you’re a
teacher using a culturally-responsive teaching strategy — for example, let’s say you want to use a collaborative grouping
to support students. Think about where you — if you look at the UDL
guidelines, it gives you a lot of suggestions for what you can do with a strategy to make
it more flexible, give students more options. You can think about, how can I support
them in the collaborative grouping, for that kid who doesn’t — who’s
not going to be comfortable with it? Some students need more structure. Others don’t. So what UDL can do is kind
of be a design lens on top of whatever you’re already doing
to work with your students.>>I’d like to just add, as far as the
action and expression for the UDL framework, is that there should be regular opportunity
to use multiple tools to construct meaning. Students need to have the
options to make learning relevant, so they can be demonstrating connections
between what they already know. Because each student enters the
classroom with a whole fund of knowledge. They already know something,
even if it’s pre-school. They have five years of background
knowledge from where they came from. And so, they should have regular
opportunities to make connections between what they already
know, and then new information. Because students really thrive
when they are offered options. Of course, with the clear guidelines,
you know, and expectations — high expectations, but they should
regularly be asked, you know, of options. And one way would be, would you rather
create, say, a music video, write a poem, or design a comic book about
what you’ve just learned? So you’re giving options for them
to express and make connections. And one way that I have seen this
demonstrated is a documentary on Netflix, and the documentary is called
“Romeo is Bleeding.” And they take the traditional,
historical “Romeo and Juliet” story, and they really put a spin on it. But they make that connection between what
they already know based on their environment, based on, you know, their livelihood
and what they go through day-to-day, and they really tap into “Romeo and Juliet.” And it is just phenomenal. The options are limitless
of what they’re able to do. And so, I encourage you to take a look
at that if you have access to Netflix, because that really does provide lots
of options for action and expression.>>And that link is going to — is in that overarching document,
where those are all in there. Joni or Loui, any thoughts
on UDL that you want to add?>>Well, universal design for learning
struck a chord with me early in my career, because it gets at some of
those systemic weaknesses that keep school from working for all students. I told you, you know, that story earlier was
really about, you know, academic tracking — a major systemic weakness, we know — also,
a focus on trying to get kids to pass a test. And so, one of the things that I love about
UDL, and the connections that I see here, that UDL builds in rigor for all students. Peer goals, flexible means, and in a
learning environment, one of the — this is one of the most powerful
pieces, I think, in dissolving those labels
that we place on others. Because we all have the same
goal, and there are lots of different strategies to get to that goal. And just in really looking
at the UDL guidelines, also, I think that one of the things that’s really — that’s really most profound about
this is that UDL really does — it intentionally asks us to
share power with our learners. So, like, when you’re looking at the
guidelines, there’s that first row, that built — or, that access row. And that really is — I mean,
that’s the work of the designer, oftentimes a classroom teacher or an instructor. But as you look at — that, that build
row, that’s where you really start — that’s the work of the teachers
and students together. And so you start sharing power, and by
the time we get to that internalize row, that really is where we’re moving
students toward being expert learners. And so, you know, we’re getting the students
to drive their own learning, and for me, UDL is such a critical component in
dissolving these systemic weaknesses, those low expectations. It keeps the bar high for all of our students, so that everybody is working toward being
purposeful and motivated, resourceful and knowledgeable, strategic and bolder-acted,
and that we’re not working toward a grade. We’re not working toward passing a test. We’re just dissolving all of those — those
are the things that put people in boxes, and I think that, when we look at
the qualities of the expert learner, and we move students toward being expert
learners, now we’re really talking about changing the game for our students. But also, when you think about the innovation
that comes from that, that we all benefit from.>>So I’ll just jump in, and I’ll keep
going with that habit line of thinking that we all need to keep
working on, breaking our habits. Some of those habits are outside of
the classroom, but, you know, whatever. But to do that, we have to — like I said
before, we have to recognize the habit, and recognize that it’s there, kind
of, in a sense, talk about that — in our head, or with others, what have you. And see examples, and process those examples. So we — but we need to be
motivated to make the change. So think about engagement. We have to be motivated to make the
change, and that has to be established. That’s the why, and we have
to discover that why. And so if we think about, again,
engagement — so we apply it to ourselves, and our motivation should recruit our interest
in, you know, making that change and having that relevancy, that connection that
we need to help sustain our efforts. So, like, read through those guidelines. You’re going to see what I’m talking about. And then, there has to be this
— a strategy for replacement. And when we’re thinking about
sustaining effort, and persistence, and the self-regulation that’s going
to go on with that, as well as tapping into our executive functions —
that’s under action and expression. And then, we start investigating our
own habits through that lens of UDL. We also recognize that we bring
our own variability to the table. And so, that’s a — into what
we’re talking about here, right, in this sense of cultural
variability, and then implicit bias. But looking at our own variability
using that UDL lens. And so, the key there is to say,
“This is where I am right now, and I see that there’s a reason
and a purpose for change.” And that’s the first crucial
step in breaking a habit.>>And then, can that tie to — so we wanted
to make some of these action items very clear for you all, so — or, you
know, just very actionable. So do you all want to comment on these at all? James-Etta, do you want to start? Oh, and you’re muted. Sorry.>>Okay, hello. Just a little technical difficulty. I’ll start, because really, to know
your core beliefs is the beginning. And like Loui said, you have to be motivated,
though, to really want to dig and tap into that. But that’s the first step, is to start
peeling back those layers, but start small. Because sometimes, it can get so overwhelming
that then the person becomes stagnant, and they don’t want to move any further. So for me, what I try to encourage is — the one concrete thing is just to start
collecting those small bits of data on yourself by jotting down, or speaking into your device,
or recording your personal thoughts, your ideas, some assumptions if you’re
having some sort of experience. So just start small. Just tap into it. Try to make it a habit. You know, try to set a reminder at least once
a day to really be intentional of doing that. And then, move on. You know, disengage and then move on. And that’s where the flexibility comes in, and
then you can come back and revisit it, you know, periodically and over a period of time. But really, the first step
is to know your core beliefs.>>Perfect. Thank you. And Joni, do you want to share this next one?>>Sharing power with students. And one of the things that I — I mean,
it sounds simple, but ask your students. Get their input for your learning environment. Invite them to co-design lessons with you,
to bring in resources that they love to use, to introduce the class to a tech
tool that they find to be relevant, and engaging, and interesting to use. But also, help you come up with
criteria, and descriptors for rubrics. You know, what does — what does excellent look
like for this work that we’re doing together? And most importantly, I think, just
to be vulnerable enough to say, “What’s working for you, and
what’s not working for you?” Because I think — you know, we’ve talked
a lot about habits and assumptions, and one of the things that I think
is, don’t get into a habit of thinking that everything you do is working for everybody. Because it’s probably not. It’s — we design through
the lens of who we are — that silver thread, right,
that we’re talking about. And that’s kind of the one that we design
through, and so we have to be really intentional about sharing that power, and saying, “Tell me
what’s working, and tell me what’s not working.” And I think that the thing that is — that you’ll see from that is that the
message it sends to students is that — to all of our learners, that it sends
to them, is that, without your input, this environment would be
fundamentally different. That the people who are here,
the experiences we’re having, the learning that’s happening here, that without
you — if you weren’t sitting in that seat, and on days you’re absent, and
when you’re not here, we miss you. We want your input. You’re critical to the design of our learning.>>I was getting all choked up. Teaching is such powerful work for our learners. And then, Kavita, can you
touch on this one here?>>Yeah. I’m looking at the time. I’ll make this quick. I train pre-service teachers in what I do, and
sometimes my students look at the UDL framework, and they’re like, how do I do all of this? There’s 31 checkpoints. Do I have to do this all the time for every kid? And no. I tell people, it’s incremental. Just pick one thing that you’re going
to make this strategy more flexible. Just — you don’t have to do everything all
the time, but if you add in flexibility, think about your students, and as Joni said,
maybe engage them in some of the processes, if you make one thing more flexible,
you’re already building out. And in the next lesson you do, make a
couple of more things more flexible. So you don’t have to do — use all
31 of those checkpoints all the time, but just doing a few things will start to
get those assumptions down, the biases down, and start working for the students.>>And we’ll look to unbox — again,
that idea that we want to go back to that image of unboxing our learners. So we did present this information in
a multiple means, multiple reference — we’re not going to go through this again. But this is a summary slide of our webinar,
of our big thinking, of at-risk — clients. It was in my way, and not all the same. So we invite you to, again, listen to the
recording, take a look at our resources, and reflect on what would be — what
would be the main takeaway phrase that you would use for your story. What would your students use when
they are telling their stories, and thinking of their stories? So as we give you all a moment to ask a
few questions, or to make a few comments in the chat box, we do just want
to share a few of those resources. We have lots of resources. Some of them are resources by our panelists. They are an unbelievable wealth
of knowledge and information. So, very quickly, do — can you each just
highlight, very quickly, what you have up here?>>Yeah. So there are a couple
of blog posts for me that — one I did for Brooks Publishing and one I
did for education week that both kind of — that show I — that the UDL
investment really is that connection over compliance story, one of those. And then, the talk that I gave at the UDL
IRN Summit last year on the intersection of culturally-responsive teaching and UDL.>>And then, listed under Joni’s work
is the culturally-responsive design for English learners, the UDL approach that
was recently released, and Patti Ralabate — co-author — lead author on that. And so, it’s got lots of crosswalks in there. So UDL and English learner, and
culturally-responsive teaching work.>>Okay, and — sure. So visit my website. There, I have a free training where
you can get access immediately. Just put in your e-mail address. And then also, I have a free cultural
club assessment that will help me to design training particularly for you, or your
group, or your district, so we can start tapping into those implicit biases, and then,
you know, start unboxing ourselves, and getting those students out of the boxes.>>So exciting.>>And CAST is soon going to be publishing the
UDL for language learners book that I wrote with my co-author, Carrie Torres. That book has a lot — we have
four classroom vignettes of how to address variability for
language learners in there. And it’s very practitioner-focused,
appropriate for teachers. And then, finally, Carrie and
I have also written an article in “The Tesol Journal,” and
that one is on the handout. And you can download it, along with all the
other resources that we’ve been talking about.>>Perfect. Thank you. And take a look at the list of resources. So these are all available
through that digital handout. The link is also in the chat box as
well, so please a take a look at those. You’ll see many of the ideas that our panelists
shared during the course of the webinar, just some fabulous opportunities there. We do hope that you keep
engaging with us at CAST. We have our fourth annual UDL Symposium,
which is all about empowering learners. And I think beginning with
this focus on implicit bias, and being able to unpack your
own self, your own perspective, to think about how you design the environment
so that we are empowering learners — these are the conversations
that we’re going to have. And many of our guests today are able
to be there in some form or another at that symposium, so we’re super excited. You can register today. As Kavita mentioned, CAST has a skinny
book series, and hers will come out soon. We have them from actually
— Joni has one coming. I know James-Etta’s applied for one. Loui’s — so, great professional
learning from CAST Publishing. Also, please visit our aims center. You know, one of the best things you can do to
start making your environment more accessible to all is to start making
those materials accessible. This site just has fabulous webinars and
resources to really bring this to life. CAST is hiring, so please check our job postings
and internships, and we also have a great way to donate, just because our
goal is to change the world. So we also have a special offer for you. This is the book that Patti Ralabate and
Loui Lord Nelson, who’s here, wrote together. So you can get 25% off your next order. So if you use this code, CRDWEB18, during
the checkout, you’re able to save 25% through the month of April,
which is very exciting. And we want to hear from you. So, how did you find this webinar? Do you still have pressing questions? Do you have another webinar topic that
you want to have with these guests, that we would be able to
help facilitate for you? What are some of the pressing issues
that you have that you want to share? So we always welcome feedback from you all. And we wanted to end with this quote. Joni, I’m not sure if you want to share this. And you’re on mute.>>Kind of –>>Start over.>>Oh, sorry. I muted you.>>Oh, go ahead. Me?>>One of the things that our stories,
I think, all illustrate, is that — kind of like that silver thread, this
notion that we don’t see the world as it is, that we see the world as we are. Which is — I think really gets at what
Loui’s talking about, like, knowing your base, knowing those habits so that you — that when
we all are sharing a learning environment, we kind of understand this idea, that you
don’t see the world the way that I do. You see the world the way that you are. So I think that’s just a — it’s a
really, really powerful quote that kind of ties together some of this,
and also addresses that notion of variability that we keep coming back to.>>And I want to thank you all for being
vulnerable, and in front of hundreds of people, sharing stories of yourselves, really
looking to reflect on your own practices with a new lens, with a new perspective. For showing some of those awesome pictures of
when you were young, and thinking about some of those big takeaways that you’ve learned
over the experiences that you’ve had. Thank you for helping us think about how to open
our own boxes, open our learning environments, embrace the variability, and have
some of these hard conversations. So thank you all for joining us today. Please feel free to share the webinar. The recording will be made available
within 24 to 48 hours, and we’ll make sure that you have access to all of those resources. And we’re always available via Twitter,
and we will get Kavita there as well, or we’ll be able to get in
touch with her as well. So thank you all so much
for being such an amazing, powerful conversation with us all today.>>All right.>>Thank you.>>Bye. Thanks.>>Thank you.




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