One name is synonymous with Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The. Dr. Katie. Novak. She literally wrote the book -- 7, in fact, if you’re counting -- including the best-selling UDL Now and Innovate Inside the Box with George Couros. Katie shared so many great ideas with us that it was worthy of more than one episode so this is part 2. Check out episode 10 for Part 1 if you haven't already! In this episode, Katie shares how "firm goals, flexible means" translates to professional learning.
Katie Novak, EdD
Hey friends, its Lainie. Oh, we had such a good time talking with Katie Novak.
We had to make it a two-parter. So that first episode… we encourage you to go back and check it out.
It's episode 10, but if you didn't don't worry,
we're going to catch you up to some of the really key pieces that have to do with
this episode focusing on professional learning.
So enjoy and thanks for listening.
Hey y'all it's Bri and Lainie
and this is a very special episode our very first guest ever and it's a get.
We have Katie Novak who is an international expert and Universal Design for Learning.
She has written seven books including the bestseller UDL Now
and Innovate Inside the Box with George Couros.
So this is kind of like a it's like a ladies lounge right now.
We're just like living it out. We're gonna all of a sudden have to
have some like Beyonce in the background.
I can feel it. You're right. I love it.
[singing] If you like it, then you better put a ring on it.
Oh my gosh. That is… there's really no editing here Katie.
I should I should warn you and I would never take that out.
No matter what? No, I'm mean that right there...
I might be a backup singer soon
for Beyonce when she hears that. I think the phone's going to be ringing soon.
We want to hear from you. What are your what's kind of the sweet that's happening.
What's the sour that's happening in your world professionally, personally,
whatever that might look like. Okay, so I'll do a little bit of both here.
So like the sweet of of my week.
you know professionally is as much as this is like this crazy unprecedented time and you know,
there's just so much being thrown up in the air.
It gives me hope for the future of education that people are really
talking about the barriers of one-size-fits-all design
and that's something that I have been trying to share.
You know for my entire career of this one-size-fits-all thing just like doesn't work
like we can't just be Leave following these scripted curriculums
and expect humans to have these like great outcomes.
Like we need relationships. We need pedagogy. We need art
and I think that the thing that gives me hope is that more people are starting to
recognize there's a lot of different ways to learn,
you know, the pacing can be changed. The flexibility can be changed
and I think that that is exciting
and I'm hoping that we don't lose that
when suddenly there's a vaccine and suddenly we're back to you know,
something that is more aligned
with what we remember and it's almost in some way like the variability
that used to maybe be invisible is very, very visible
and we're having conversations about that.
And I think that what is really hard one of the things that is
disappointing is there's a lot of talk about remote learning
and re-entry and safety and I don't hear a lot of conversations about professional learning
and I don't know how we can expect all of these, as individuals,
you know, we have educators we have, you know,
service providers. We have administrators how we can expect an entire entire group of
professionals to make all these changes without investing in them.
There's a lot of investment in PPE there is you know,
the protective equipment there's a lot of investment in technology,
but I don't hear a lot of conversations about like what's our plan
for building the competency and creating balance and resilience in our best investment.
In like are our most important resource.
So I really hope that the conversation begins to think about.
How do we support educators in actually teaching not just wiping desks?
Like we're not hiring, you know, camp counselors that are gonna be wiping off tables.
Like these are highly trained skilled professionals
and no one's talking about or very few people are talking about.
What are we doing for the educators? This is all about
what we're doing for students and we need both of those lenses.
It is a challenge because unfortunately a lot of time
we spend our our time with teachers with professional learning
based around using that tool instead of using,
you know, instead of that tool being a learning device.
We learn how to use the device right?
And so it's and whatever that device may be whether it's highlighters.
I mean, I know that I've been in many professional learning back in the day of you know,
how to how to color the essay right? Of like this is the highlighter color that you should
use for power verbs in this.
This is the highlighter color that you should use for that. So when I say,
you know device I'm not necessarily seeking,
you know, limiting that to to Chromebook or to a laptop.
We do the same thing and we have done the same thing from an
education standpoint around highlighters
and not colors and all these different things too.
And so helping are our teachers
and our educators really get
to what is it that we're trying to communicate
and we’re trying to communicate to our learners
so that then we can understand the multiple ways that they can get it right
and not just an interesting point right like it's not like okay,
here's the historical fiction,
here's the science fiction, and here's the fantasy version of it.
It's truly like no we're going to talk about theme and this is what's going to represent that best.
So I am just so excited like hearing all these different pieces
because we often don't have those conversations
because we assume that educators are coming in really, really,
you know, and that they've had the opportunity to truly unpack the
the curriculum that's that's in front of them
and often times.
We don't we don't have that time to really invest that in there.
So we get stuck we get stuck in our cookbook versions or are more quick method options.
I agree. Oh my goodness. I will be listening to this episode multiple times
because I kind of want to think through everything that's being talked about.
There's so much going on in my mind
and like Bri said we're nerds we like to got to really dive into this stuff
and I'm and kind of to go back to
what you said with your sweet
and sour Katie, it's challenging
but I think we also see the hope
and that this is bringing to light
what were some challenges in education that maybe we're under the surface
and we weren't seeing and now it's becoming very, very clear that we
really weren't getting all of our learners.
I think that I've been clear to some people
but maybe not necessarily to everyone. I once had someone say,
why would we do anything different in education?
It's already working for everyone and I… this was a very,
you know, I'm sure a great educator
but we didn't… Was Ashton Kutcher there punking you?
I honestly like… oh Ashton, I get
it. I had to and I'm always very respectful but it was not easy in that moment.
I will not joke to you it was it was no joke.
I was struggling
because I couldn't understand how someone believe that we
were actually addressing the needs of all kids
when to me that is not where we are.
We are trying and we do so many things well,
but we still have a lot of work to do
and so I really do think we all see the hope in this situation that
will come out on the other side even better.
That's the hope, that's the dream
well, I love the focus on on the barrier component of it,
right because I know that
so often we find ourselves assuming where it is that we need help right instead of really taking it
and saying okay,
you know, I've done this with with teachers so often of looking at okay.
Well the kids aren't understanding this. Well, why do you think that they're not understanding it?
Well because they're they're they're not turning in the work.
Well, are they not turning in the work
because it's a document that 78 pages
when it really could have been eight and it's a stamina issue and you know,
you can just pare this down
and really get those same components across
or are they not getting it
because it's you know a different situation. There’s
so many different ways so like looking at it
and saying what is the barrier
in what is the problem to then figure out where you need to bring in some
of that information. Going back to your sweet
and sour let's talk a little bit about professional learning.
So we've talked about about UDL from from that learner perspective from coming in from the
classroom teacher preparing designing looking at that in the classroom.
Can we apply UDL to professional learning?
And if so, do you have some thoughts about how we could do that kind of given our
situations that were we're dealing with right now.
I think it's the same thing. I think that people who are providing professional learning
whether it's through Instructional
Rounds, Professional Learning Communities, graduate courses,
you know, it needs to be what is it that we want everyone to know
and be able to do? How will we know if everyone knows it or is able to do it? Which is often a
missing piece in a professional learning like there's
so much like let's like let's give them materials.
Let's share methods and then there's no measurement of like where is the growth?
How do we know what people still need?
And then it's thinking about what are the flexible pathways for
what barriers might prevent all educators from finding it relevant, authentic, and meaningful?
And so, you know just a really small example is one of my goals
when I work with teams is that teams will you know understand the core components of UDL which
is going to be understanding variability addressing barriers
and understanding the principles of UDL which is you know,
a little more technical about like the different types of strategies you can
use and so you think about it in that lens,
right and I want them to know that to understand to be able to articulate to use the language.
But then I also in addition to that want everyone to learn how to design lessons.
And so that would never work
if I was in a group that a preschool teacher
and a math teacher and a special educator
and an occupational therapist
and the assistant principal if I was like now we're all going to jigsaw this article
and then we're going to use this discussion protocol
and then I'm going to have everyone do an exit ticket and there's people like,
”Who is this? Like, do you know how much they're paying her?” Like, right?
I was one of them. I was a teacher who wouldn't say stuff like that do not make me do something that I already know
and/or I am so far from knowing that this is like it doesn't have anything to do with me.
It's not relevant. So I remember one like really awesome universally design experiences.
We had a new grading software and I remember my principal when I was still a teacher.
He's like all of you have to use this grating software,
so I'm going to give you 5 minutes just to use your new
login and play around with it to figure out what you need.
And then if you want to stay here, we have a rep from the company who's going to go through
and teach you how to do it.
If you would rather you can go with the instructional coach who can just give you one-on-one help.
If you would rather you can take this packet that tells you how to set up your gradebook
and go back to your classroom
and do it and you can do it alone
or with someone else but I need to see that you all post a grade by the next faculty meeting
and it was awesome because I'm like peace out.
I'm just gonna like take the packet and it was so nice that the principal was like,
if I did it in one way, if they forced me to sit through that reps program,
I would have taken my eyeballs out with a pencil
and I mean that's a little bit of a hyperbole
but that's how I feel about watching really long presentations
because I'm a figure-outer like let me figure it out
and then I will talk to the instructional coach.
Then I will go to the rep and I think that we have to do that.
Every time we're thinking about professional learning is
what is the variability we can predict with these educators? What methods can we provide them?
What materials can we provide them with as options and how are we going to know?
What's the quote unquote assessment so we can determine who might need some additional support.
I love that and you know one thing I'm just going to put it out.
There is I think that we struggle
almost as much with students
as we do with adults is equating seat time to learning that
just because they all sat through the training that they're all going to learn the solution
and I love the the outcome driven like let's respect professionals
as adults there they're going to
go and they're going to learn what they need to learn to perform to serve their learners.
And so I really love that because I'm in some of the conversations.
I'm having with with leaders.
I hear them struggling to move away from seat time
as an indicator of learning and I think that that's not the way that that I tend to think about it.
And so I love what you just said. It's not about like we all have to sit here for an hour.
It's like no you're going to what you need to do to be successful.
We all have to post grades because parents are expecting them in this platform.
And if that's the firm goal, then it's like what are the way and it was like,
I'm always shocked when you're given options because I would like in that scenario,
I wouldn't stay to watch it because I really like tech there would have been other scenarios
like if a ski instructor said to me you can stay here
and watch me do it or you can go try to figure it out,
I would stay right. So it's like variability is contextual.
Just tell me the goal. Give me my options
and then provide me with the autonomy to make a decision that is best for me.
But also provide some sort of assessment that if I'm heading in the wrong direction if I'm if
I'm in unproductive struggle there's an opportunity to reset
and reflect and that's really important as well for professional learning.
So, you know, I loved talking with you about this I could
talk for days and days about the importance of embracing variability
and educators respecting that every single person can learn
when given the right design options and materials.
Acknowledging that we have a long way to go.
But hopefully now that we're recognizing that one size doesn't fit all
we're going to continue in that direction of flexibility
and adaptability and and truly embracing
what it means to be a inclusive equitable organization
I love that you said that. Here’s my quick parting thought… as you guys were going through all this as a former basketball coach,
this is this is my side coming out in this as well.
is that learning is performance,
right? Like if we have to perform
what we've learned what we understand
what we're going to do with it
and all of that stuff and I think you know hearing all of this conversation about seat time
and coming in there and just assuming that something's going to instantly happen.
I've shared this multiple times that you know, if I was coaching my team instead of ok,
we need to learn what a screen is.
I would not tell my girls to go meet me in room 23, sign in,
and then stand in front of them and hit a slide
of a still shot of what a screen is.
This is an offensive screen, Webster defines defensive screen as this right?
I wouldn't show them videos, videos, videos and then walk away and in six weeks later,
you know have a game and assume that my girls know anything about screens,
right? We would instead have practices we would run drills we
would look at all kinds of different situations.
We would have scrimmages and even then we wouldn't know
until we actually came into the game against a different opponent other than
ourselves of where we really could perform at that level
and I think that so often when it comes to professional learning we think 30 minutes an hour.
We'll just give them all the information. We believe that it's a
lack of not lack of information that keeps
us for understanding the concept not a lack of experience.
And so I love that idea of just how do we keep providing that that
performance opportunity to really jump in there
and look at it from so many different ways.
So, thank you. Thank you.
Oh my gosh, Katie. Thank you, and I think we kept you long,
and I'm sorry about that, but it is it was my great.
I could talk for hours with you,
but I so appreciated and we can't wait to share this with with our millions
and millions of listeners
as you already indicated… Millions! Our Netflix show is coming
soon and Beyonce is going to do the intro.
I don't think we could end it any better than that. Thank you all
for listening and have a great day.
Bye. Bye. Thank you so much.