“Often, we as administrators like to put that cape on and power through and bring forward things that we know will be really helpful to our district and our students and our staff; and in that flight, we forget all of the people that are behind us and in front of us that need to be engaged in that same level of work.”
– Kristan Rodriguez, co-author of Universally Designed Leadership
In Universally Designed Leadership, UDL experts Katie Novak and Kristan Rodriguez say that to create a truly universally designed district or system, you need to embrace UDL in every area of your work. They recommend using multiple processes for collecting feedback on your progress and the direction you’re taking to maintain the inclusive and supportive environment that’s so critical to fostering success.
Superman syndrome—the belief that you need to be everywhere at all times to save the day—is problematic for school leaders. As Dr. Rodriguez warns, it’s tempting for leaders to take charge of a project and push ahead without the participation or buy-in from their team. When Superman syndrome takes over, the short-term results may be positive, but can alienate your community in the long run. This behavior leaves those you work with in the dark, keeping them from valuable information and experiences that would otherwise help build a motivated, resourceful, and goal-oriented team.
As a UDL leader, you’re in the unique position to charge ahead and make changes that will be great for your community, and you don’t want to lose sight of the people you’re trying to help with the very same framework you’re implementing. When making significant changes, it’s critical to remember that universally designing your system is about building community, giving those you work with opportunities to provide feedback and keep them engaged during the implementation process.
To learn more about the hazards and pitfalls of building a universally designed school system, check out Universally Designed Leadership for a first-hand guide to system-wide implementation by UDL experts who have successfully forged the path for others.
This month you can find Katie and Kristan at CAST’s 3rd Annual UDL Symposium in Boston, MA. Click here to learn more about the symposium!