Harvard’s Public School Partnerships team kicked off the beginning of the school year by hosting the first of a yearlong Professional Development (PD) series for Boston Public School (BPS) teachers and administrators. The series focuses on Universal Design for Learning (UDL), a framework co-developed by Harvard University’s David Rose that aims to provide equal opportunity for all students to learn. In collaboration with Hilary Shea, Inclusion Specialist of Boston Public Schools, the PD was facilitated and developed by Laura Schifter, Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education and Jenna Gravel, doctoral student at Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Earlier this year, Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang announced his plan to pilot “Excellence for All”, an effort to replace the traditional Advanced Work Classes with an all-inclusive rigorous learning environment for all, in 13 BPS schools. In order to effectively implement Excellence for All, BPS has identified UDL as a key component to engaging in inclusive practices.
The goal of the yearlong UDL Academy is to build the capacity of 4th and 5th teachers to apply UDL in their classrooms through goal-directed lesson planning. In addition to five mandatory PD sessions, teachers will be invited to attend four optional classes that dive deeper into UDL strategies, implementation, and data inquiry. These optional courses include Implementing UDL through Pre-Texts: Cultural Agents, Data Wise: A Module for Educators about Improving Cycles of Inquiry and Google Classroom.