Profile of a lifelong learner…

This collaborative post was written with Miranda Rose, a PYP co-ordinator, in Accra, Ghana. We had fun working, crafting, building, hacking away … and learning together. It made me want to write a post about the power of collaboration. Miranda, are you in?

What does a lifelong learner look like?

“The IB promotes the education of the whole person, emphasizing intellectual, personal, emotional and social growth through all domains of knowledge… The Learner Profile is a profile of the whole person as a lifelong learner.”  (IBO Learner Profile )

Do you help your students strive to be thinkers, inquirers, knowledgeable, reflective, caring, balanced, open-minded, principled, communicators and risk-takers? Are you?

The  Learner Profile is not a list. It’s a whole school vision.  The attributes of the profile are the habits of mind that allow students to act in meaningful ways (Davy, 2005). We need to plan learning engagements to develop, discover and accentuate these habits of mind.

The Learner Profile is not a sign to laminate and post on the wall. It’s something every member of the school community should aspire to be. It is the value system that transcends learning and should be found at every turn in the school.

The Learner Profile is not another ‘thing’ to cover in class. It’s embedded in all our teaching and learning. We need to develop a culture, where the attributes of the learner profile are noticed, nurtured, modeled and expected.

Ron Ritchhart, in his book Intellectual Character identifies eight cultural forces that define a thinking classroom. These forces include : time, opportunities, routines & structures, language, modelling, interactions & relationships, physical environment and expectations (8 Cultural Forces by Ron Ritchhart). These ‘forces’ within the classroom environment can facilitate meaningful practice of all the attributes of the Learner Profile..

Some of our thoughts on how to make the ‘forces’ work to develop the Learner Profile in our classrooms:

  • Explore the attributes through the characteristics of world leaders, members of our local community and literary characters to help us identify what the Learner Profile might look like.
  • Help students take personal pride in demonstrating the attributes without extrinsically motivated awards.
  • Encourage students and teachers to set and reflect on personal goals based on the attributes of the Learner Profile.
  • Create essential agreements for effective functioning of groups and classes using the Learner Profile as a starting point.
  • Catch the students in the act of exhibiting the attributes of the Learner Profile. Display labeled photos of the Learner Profile in action.

And some further ideas via #pypchat, educators from all over the world sharing ideas…

  • We can model it through our actions. Make the language an organic feature of your pedagogy. Make it authentic.@wholeboxndice
  • Read stories in assembly showing LP. Be explicit about the traits. @LindyBuckley1
  • LP terminology is part of my daily language use. Library space makes reference to LP through posters and books lists @tgaletti
  • Use the language when discussing world news @CapitanoAmazing
  • Maybe the students can lead the community – teach the other stakeholders about the LP @jennysfen
  • Use language that relates to them. Students can display the LP even if they don’t use the ‘words’ @carlamarschall
  • What LP looks like as a parent-great way to intro it to them and gave good feedback to teachers @kassandraboyd
  • I think it has to inform everything you do as a teacher. Planning starts with it, instead of your standards or objective @PDin140orLESS
  • I like multi lingual / mother tongue displays & descriptions written by kids, often with parent help for translation @Saigon_Eldred
  • Students use them in literature circles for character analysis  @shaza33
  • All staff in school need to be involved in LP discussion, not just teaching staff @SarahHHK

We came to this post seeing ourselves as two knowledgeable PYP educators willing to take a risk and create a collaborative reflection. By communicating from different parts of globe, we began to think together. As we shared and processed our own ideas and the tweets from the first #pypchat, we became more open-minded about how the Learner Profile may look, feel and be developed in our schools. As a result, we now have more questions than we had before and our own inquiries into the Learner Profile have been inspired!