Achieve Equity Through Universal Accommodations | Tanya Sheckley | 4 Min Read

September 26, 2022

It’s back-to-school season!  Like mud season is accepted by the locals in mountain locales, back-to-school season is accepted by education professionals and students all over the world.  We prep and we prepare, we get excited, we decorate, we do development and team-building exercises, and we work to become the best educators we can be for this year’s group of students.  It’s important to acknowledge that, especially after the past two years, educators are tired.  As a school leader, if you’re anything like me, you walked into the building this season with renewed optimism and hope for the new year, but also still feeling burned out from the past two.  The summer wasn’t enough rejuvenation for the life force that has been lost in a constant low level, and sometimes high level, of stress.  

As we look at how to make things better for all of our students we look at how to make our classrooms inclusive, equitable, and welcoming.  Ensuring that no students feel left out, different, or othered is a major step towards creating an equitable classroom environment as well as building a positive relationship with all students and creating a culture of acceptance in the classroom.

Universal accommodations work towards accomplishing that goal.  By universal, I mean accommodations that are available to everyone.  We begin with the question, How can we, as educators, make sure all of our students feel ownership of their learning and belonging in our classroom?  We can look at individual students’ accommodations and think about ways that it may benefit all students.  There are many ways to do this. I am going to give a few examples.  

Flexible Seating:  Some students’ IEPs may call for seating accommodations. If we have one student in a wobble seat or with a kick strap and all the other students are sitting in chairs facing straight ahead, this student is made to feel and look different.  If we change all of our seating to flexible options and give all students the chance to sit in different places with different chairs, all students benefit and no one feels different.  If we look at this from an adult and workplace perspective, how many of us sit in one place every day to do our work?  We move from place to place, room to room, seating option to seating option, to…

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Tanya Sheckley

Tanya Sheckley is Founder and President of UP Academy, an elementary lab school which values innovation, empathy and strength and incorporates a unique neuro-development program for children with physical disabilities. Tanya’s vision and mission show it’s possible to celebrate differences, change what’s broken in the American education system, and that all children can receive a rigorous, well-rounded education. She is an Edpreneur, Author of Rebel Educator: Create Classrooms of Imagination and Impact and host of the Rebel Educator podcast. She speaks frequently on the future of education and entrepreneurship. She is a rebel educator who works with new and existing schools to question the status quo and develop innovative student experiences through inclusion and project-based learning.