The Asset Map is a tool that I am going to introduce in my next Learning Circle discussion. From that point, we will solicit volunteers from the Team Level. The Asset Map ovals indicate the four system levels of members who will be able to contribute to the development of a solution to the Problem of Practice. At the Organization Level, the nuts and bolts of the framework for implementation will take place. This usually involves a cost-benefit analysis as well as the projected rate of return. Our district is keenly aware of budget development and presenting a fiscally sound and appropriate budget for the community to approve based on the sustainability and provision of existing programs, plant, and people, with an eye on innovation.
That being the case, I have selected Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as the potential solution for our learning organization. “Universal Design for Learning is Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an educational framework based on research in the learning sciences, including cognitive neuroscience, that guides the development of flexible learning environments that can accommodate individual learning differences (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Design_for_Learning).” The community cares about meeting the needs of all learners so the solution embraces that which people care deeply about.
Rather than designing a linear model, I chose to depict my notion and hope that the interactions among the levels will be somewhat organized while somewhat messy. I anticipate a lot of back and forth, reflection, and revision. There will be designated time to look at the elements and components noted under the five processes that surround the four levels of the system. Time will be afforded conveniently at department meetings, professional staff development, curriculum meetings, and at budget meetings in terms of presenting UDL, its research, and its proven ability to improve academic and social outcomes for all students or all learners. The key component is at the Team Level involving the principals and teachers in order for them to see that UDL is not more work, and/or more lesson planning. The Team’s ability to “get the word out there” will have an impact at the Community Level. The core of innovation represents the capacity for the change to occur without additional resources or support, although the core represents a starting point. Digging deeply through our many conversations, the Asset Map eventually provides the path to confront the challenges and barriers to the full launch of innovation or the implementation of Universal Design for Learning. Thinking positively and relying on the assets in my system, I will be prepared to speak to the challenges and barriers that may at first seem insurmountable with research, resources, funding, and system level support.
As I created my Asset Map, I began to think about and appreciate the staff who really cares deeply about considering innovation and change. I also began to appreciate even more my professional learning network that has allowed me to develop a deep understanding of Universal Design to Learning and to be able to defend its value for all students, not just students who are classified as having a disability. In terms of aligning to core values espoused by the community, I turned to the Board of Education goals, my conversations with teachers and principals, as well as to the professional organizations whose members I collaborate with in our endeavor to improve teaching and learning. I think that when I thought of confronting barriers, the ever looming financial uncertainty reared its head. It always seems that innovative solutions are met with the same questions: How much is it? What other districts do this? Do you have money in your budget for it? Despite that, I am hopeful that my voice and that of The Team’s can launch a successful school innovation.