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Learner Profiles

What are they, why are they important and how can you get started co-creating them?

Article
October 26, 2023

By: Robin Kanaan

Think about the learners in your class and in your life.

“What are their strengths and challenges in how they Access, Engage and Express™? How do they need or prefer or need to access information, engage with content and express what they know and understand? What are their talents, interests, passions, and aspirations?” – Kathleen McClaskey

Understanding learners doesn’t just help a teacher to better design instruction and materials. It can also offer learners a way to develop agency as they become more and more aware of how they learn best.

Understanding students better through learner profiles

Things to thinking about when getting started on creating personalized learner profiles:

  • Focus on knowing your students and helping students know themselves: Before diving into selecting a template, think about what learner profiles are for and how you will use them. A template that is created just for you as the teacher is very different than a template that is designed to help students understand themselves as learners.
  • Consider unintentional bias: It is vital to layer questions of how a teacher’s identity and biases can come into play in the classroom on top of the traditional learner profile process to create a space where students feel comfortable bringing their whole selves. It’s not just about uncovering students’ interests. It’s about the why behind those interests and how their experiences have shaped how they answer these kinds of questions.
  • Think differently about data: Learner profiles can be an entirely new take on the idea of data notebooks. Why not let students use these to track their own progress, reflect on their learning needs and strengths, and set individual academic and non-academic goals?
  • Give the work back: Learner profiles do not need to be one more thing you have to do as a teacher. You don’t have to create 30 binders. Think about how you could help students create their own learner profiles.
  • Revisit and revise: Over the course of the year, students are going to change and grow. Allow space for them to record self-reflections on a regular basis. It’s key for learners to engage in this kind of self-reflection on their strengths and their challenges.

Resources and templates for creating learner profiles:

THE AUTHOR

Robin Kanaan
Senior Director of Teaching and Learning

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