Katrina is a year-13 student. She knows what helps her learn and what can get in the way. Earlier this year I had the chance to interview her. Take a look at the video before you read on.
So now you’ve watched the video, here’s some questions for you:
- If Katrina was a student in your class or a member of your school community, how could you make the learning environment more effective for her?
- Which of those tweaks or changes might provide additional support or options for other students? Get really specific if you can.
- How could you increase the usefulness or flexibility of these changes by innovatively using digital technologies?
- Which of the tweaks or changes you identified could just become the “way you do things”? Could they become part of practice across year groups and learning areas? How could you support this to happen?
A universal approach
The approach I am advocating here is a “universal” one where we deliberately seek differing perspectives, and in response create opportunities and environments informed by this diversity. A strong characteristic of this approach is that we do our innovating and solution finding in partnership. In seeking to understand the diverse experiences of others, our thinking and the way we do things will get challenged. If we continue to work closely with those we have interviewed, we can often find workable and effective solutions together. In the video above Katrina talks about what gets in the way of her learning, but she is astute about what could help. Her fixes contribute towards what we could call “the least restrictive environment”, one where options and supports (no tech, low tech and high tech) are:
- selected based on the specific needs of students
- built into the environment or the ways of working at the outset
- made available to everyone.
Exploring a universal approach in your school
- Interview some of the students in your class, department or school to give you a heads up on how you can help them learn?
- Take a whole school approach and weave student’s recommendations into “how we do things round here”.
- Dedicate a staff meeting to exploring the Inclusive Education website and the Inclusion Principle on NZC Online. Find some jargon-free ways of talking about creating environments that are a better fit for your students.
- Find out more about Universal Design for Learning: a practical approach with that “universal” idea at its heart.