Every month our program gets together for a professional development workshop. Our team includes a group of people who are hearing, deaf, and hard-of-hearing. The presenter uses a microphone while an interpreter is signing. The presentation is accompanied by a visual representation of the presentation on a projector. Our videos are always captioned. There is a “writer,” a person who takes notes on a large piece of chart paper where everyone can see, high lighting the key points of the discussion. Later someone gathers the notes and disseminates the notes to the team via email.
Often we start a brainstorming session with a silent discussion. Large pieces of paper are set in different parts of the room with a discussion question on each paper. Everyone has the opportunity to go around the room and write down their thoughts silently. Once everyone is done, the facilitator reads everyone’s answers which guides the discussion.
We break into our teams and practice what we learned. Sometimes it’s a new app, teaching strategy, or activity to be implemented in the classroom. Once we are done we get back to together as a large group, reflect on the process, and make a plan on how to apply what was learned in our classrooms. As a group we support each other and are encouraged to share our successes and challenges. It’s a safe working environment to share open and honestly. Our individuality, personal strengths, and creativity are fostered through group learning, which shows in the way we work with our own students.
The provided reading material and text outline the three networks of learning. These networks are taken into consideration through the instructional planning of our workshops:
- Recognition networks (the “what” of learning): How we gather facts, categorize and recognize information using the five senses.
- Strategic networks (the “how” of learning): How we plan, execute and demonstrate our learning.
- Affective networks (the “why” of learning): Engagement and motivation to learn
The video, UDL: Principals and Practice, David Rose (Chief Scientist, Cognition and Learning, CAST), mentions “designing learning experiences that work across the wide spectrum of learners,” and that the goal is for students to become “expert learners.” UDL is regularly modeled to the staff in our professional development workshops, as a result we have a talented and motivated teachers who (in Rose’s words), “know a lot, know how to do a lot, love learning and want to do it more.”