As a teacher, great emphasis was put on getting to know my students. I knew that to teach each student well, I had to take time to understand what they liked, who their family members were, their hobbies, dreams, collections, etc. So during the first couple of weeks of school I did a lot of “get to know you” activities, and students shared these with each other so their peers could learn about their classmates. These were fun, community building activities that gave us a quick glimpse into who was in our class. Some years, I would continue this with a Student of the Week activity where one student would receive the honor of sharing more about themselves, and we would celebrate the unique talents, abilities and characteristics that made each child special, and I would sprinkle in other community building activities to continue to build relationships because I valued staying connected to my students.
Now let’s fast forward to the present day Learner Profile. The present day learner profile does all of the things I valued above, but it goes so much farther and has such a different purpose than I could have ever imagined in my early days of teaching. The Learner Profile IS a way for the teacher to get to know the student to begin to connect new learning to previous experiences, interests and motivations, but more importantly:
- The Learner Profile is a way for the student to get to know himself, become self aware and make connections that are personal and drives him to want to learn more
- The Learner Profile is a tool for capturing students feelings on what they believe are their strengths and struggles so they can leverage the strengths in times of challenge and goal set around struggles
- The Learner Profile allows the student to reflect on leadership skills and dispositions so when they are faced with new situations they are prepared for how they may feel and can begin to proactively plan for opportunities.
- The Learner Profile is a place for students to set goals that can be measured while considering the strengths they bring to the opportunity and people and resources they can draw from so they feel connected
- The Learner Profile is a place for students to reflect on an ongoing basis about their progress, feelings, preferences, motivations and so much more
- The Learner Profile is about the student becoming keenly self aware!
The Learner Profile is not a get to know you activity or a one time “event” that is completed as part of a student portfolio. The Learner Profile is an on-going process of self reflection that is embedded into daily practice. The Learner Profile is personal and it should help the teacher understand the student better, but the real intent of the learner profile is for the student to understand himself better. Once students become self aware they will have the tools to develop student agency where they can ask for learning experiences and supports that connect to the content but also build upon their interests, strengths, struggles and motivations. With a Learner Profile, students will be able to approach new learning self aware of which personal skills they can use to persevere through tough times in the learning process, and they can truly start to own their learning and see meaningful connections to how they are personally growing in areas that are meaningful to them.