Professional learning communities (PLCs) offer a collaborative approach to professional development in which small groups of educators meet regularly to reflect on instructional planning and practice, share expertise and insights from their teaching experiences, and engage in collective problem-solving.

At the heart of effective PLCs are inquiry and reflection focused on standards-based instruction, engaging discussions on lessons that support students as they access grade-level curriculum, and exploring ways to provide students with means for expression.

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PLCs are often beneficial for educators working towards similar goals, such as improving student outcomes through the implementation of a new curriculum, program, or framework. One such framework is Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

UDL and PLCs: The perfect pairing

UDL is a standards-based framework for inclusive education that aims to eliminate barriers to learning and optimize each individual’s opportunity to learn. The framework provides guidelines for educators to offer multiple means of engagement, multiple means of representation, and multiple means of action and expression to equalize the playing field for all learners and to eliminate inequities in the classroom. UDL recognizes that a one-size-fits-all curriculum doesn’t meet the needs of all students.

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About the Author:

Magdalena Ganias, Ed.D. is a passionate educator, leader, and advocate for creating flexible and nurturing learning environments for both students and teachers. She currently serves as the Manager of Curriculum & Professional Learning K-12 for the Worcester Public Schools in Worcester, Massachusetts but also has worked as a classroom teacher in various urban districts, department head, and school-based administrator. In her current role, Dr. Ganias supports instructional coaches with implementing best practices for leading teachers district-wide, heads the Advanced Placement program, guides curriculum liaisons, and facilitates universally designed professional learning sessions.

Katie Novak, Ed.D. is an internationally renowned education consultant and a practicing leader in education as an Assistant Superintendent of Schools at the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District in Massachusetts. Dr. Novak has 16 years of experience in teaching and administration, an earned doctorate in curriculum and teaching, and is the author of 6 books, including the best-selling education book, UDL Now! and recently released Innovate Inside the Box with George Couros. Katie designs and presents professional learning opportunities both nationally and internationally focusing on implementation of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), and universally designed leadership.


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