Jurupa’s Sustainability Story
Highlighted ILC Principle: Cross-role collaboration. Learn more about the ILC Project Principles.
This blog entry focuses on sharing work from the Jurupa team in Riverside County.
The Jurupa Unified School District (JUSD) team began as part of the ILC Project’s outreach in 2017 to reach historically isolated areas of California. Over the past 3 years, this ILC team of four teachers has worked to spread Universal Design for Learning (UDL) practices throughout JUSD with the collaboration and support of district leaders, school site administrators, the union president, and district coaches. The team focuses on UDL for English Learners and students with disabilities and demonstrates how UDL enriches learning for all students.
Partly because nearly a third of the district’s students are English Learners, the first professional learning (PL) session the JUSD ILC team conducted was a session focused on English Language Learners and Universal Design for Learning given to 13 local association members who volunteered to attend outside of their contractual workday. Afterwards, several teachers expressed a desire for more UDL workshops.
An Opportunity for District-Union Collaboration
Through a mutual effort to improve collaboration between the district and the local teacher’s union regarding decisions affecting teachers, the former union president, Paul Swan Van Lent, said, “I invited the district to attend a CAST UDL symposium in Boston, which was accepted [and] paid for by the district. [The district representatives] found UDL to be compatible with its focus on “Learning Without Limits,” growth mindset, and brain science.” When figuring out how to bring UDL training back to the district, Mr. Swan Van Lent reported that leaders in the district and local union worked together “in a completely collaborative manner” to create and implement the model of training teachers in UDL who could then share UDL knowledge and practices with their peers in a grassroots way. As Mr. Swan Van Lent explained, “that training and UDL provided the relationships and structure for the ILC to develop and thrive in our district.” Working together with district leaders to develop internal leadership capacity for UDL created conditions in which the district recognized value in the ILC that it had not seen in its initial meeting with ILC representatives.
Cross-Role Support for Educator-Led Roll-Out of UDL in JUSD
The JUSD ILC team gave a 30-minute presentation to 48 teachers, administrators, and classified staff on UDL during a late school start day in May 2019. Teachers who attended said that they understood the key elements of UDL, for example that “engagement is attention and commitment.” Many attendees expressed a desire to learn more about UDL so they could better implement it. The district created a UDL Presenters’ Academy in Summer 2019 to help the volunteer teachers develop a plan to roll out UDL training within the district. The Superintendent of Education Services demonstrated support for teacher-led PD in multiple ways, including attending the PD and providing funding for the CAST training, full-day subs, attending information sessions, and follow-up support from CAST. Additionally, the union president has worked with the district administration to include more teacher-to-teacher collaboration.
As part of this team’s strategy to spread the work to more teachers, the JUSD ILC team highlighted UDL and its benefits for all students in a district newsletter.
In 2019–20, the ILC team conducted PL sessions on IEP Rhetoric and Integrating UDL and NGSS Curriculum Design. These sessions were attended by teachers, support staff and district officials. Participants in the IEP workshop reported that they learned to “read and better understand IEPs for students in [their] classes,” and how to “work better with collaborating teachers.” Additional learning sessions on UDL for JUSD teachers, paraprofessionals, and parents were postponed because of Covid-related school closures.
UDL Learning Continues Despite the Pandemic
Recently the team has begun to provide some sessions as webinars. In April 2020, Kelly McArdle participated in the ILC Webinar series. Over 100 educators attended her session Using Universal Design for Learning to Support Success for All Students focused on supporting students with special needs.
In October 2020, Kelly co-facilitated a webinar in CTA IPD’s Equity in Distance Learning series on Students with Disabilities with Sara Apacible-Holm, a fellow ILC member from San Bernardino City USD. Kelly and Sara each facilitated separate IPD Instructional Rounds on Special Education two weeks later.
Next steps for the team: Kelly is making a video for the Riverside County Office of Education’s UDL series on how she incorporates UDL into her teaching. The JUSD ILC team is planning a webinar for UDL in the virtual classroom that incorporates SEL considerations.