Learner Profiles: What Are They, Why Are They Important and How Can You Get Started Co-Creating Them

Topics: 101, Building Capacity

Each learner comes to school with strengths and challenges along with a set of interests, talents and aspirations. We often discover some of these qualities over the course of the school year by having conversations, observing how each learner responds in class or through a set of data that has been collected from standardized testing. How might we do this differently?

Think about the learners in your class and in your life. What are their strengths and challenges in how they learn? How do they need or prefer to access information, engage with content and express what they know and understand? What are their talents, interests, passions and aspirations?

Need help building learner profiles or want to see how it’s used? Learn how one Minnesota district builds and uses learner profiles for all ages.
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Understanding our learners can not only help a teacher to better design instruction and materials, but 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.
  • 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.

Resources and templates for creating learner profiles:

See how one teacher uses learner profiles and other activities to encourage a learner’s mindset in her classroom.