Planning for Universal Design for Learning in the early childhood inclusion classroom: A case study
The majority of children with exceptionalities aged 3-5 are being served in general education settings. Teachers working in these inclusion classrooms must have the ability and knowledge to work with all students under their care. The purpose of this study was to determine how teachers in early childhood inclusion classrooms plan to incorporate the principles of Universal Design for Learning, an inclusive pedagogy, and to determine how professional development in UDL changes teachers' knowledge and behaviors in the classroom. This qualitative case study followed two early childhood inclusion co-teachers and a district office specialist in charge of the UDL professional development. Interviews, observations, lesson plans, and training materials were collected over an extended amount of time in the field. Results of the data analysis indicated that many principles of UDL were inherent in quality early childhood instruction. Teachers were adept at individualizing instruction on an as needed basis, but they needed more practice at embedding modifications and accommodations into curriculum and instruction. Early childhood teachers understood and saw the value in UDL, but they lacked appropriate professional development, access to the necessary resources, and the time needed to take universal instruction to the next level.