Friday, June 4, 2010

Modelling the IB Learner Profile

The IB Learner profile describes the type of learner that the IB hopes to develop through its programmes. Originally the learner profile was part of the PYP and was known as the student profile, though it later became adopted by all 3 IB programmes. At that point the focus changed so that it was not just for students:

The IB learner profile is the IB mission statement translated into a set of learning outcomes for the 21st century. The attributes of the profile express the values inherent to the IB continuum of international education: these are values that should infuse all elements of the Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Diploma Programme and, therefore, the culture and ethos of all IB World Schools. The learner profile provides a long-term vision of education. It is a set of ideals that can inspire, motivate and focus the work of schools and teachers, uniting them in a common purpose.

One interesting aspect of the IB Learner profile is that it applies to everyone involved in the IB programmes (students, teachers and administrators), as the IB recognises that we are all part of a community of lifelong learners and the learner profile should be the shared vision of all involved in creating the learning environment of the school. The IB also promotes international mindedness and the learner profile is seen as a way of aspiring to this. How successful a school will be in promoting the learner profile mostly depends on the values, culture and ethos of the school. The learner profile should be apparent in each classroom, forming the basis of teaching and learning, and in addition should also be seen in the daily life, management and leadership of the school:

Individual teachers, faculty groups, school administrators and school governors should ask themselves “To what extent do our philosophy, our school structures and systems, our curriculum and units of work enable students, and the adults who implement the programmes, to develop into the learner described in the profile?”

Our staff meeting on Wednesday was different from the usual pattern - our task was to walk around the school in groups visiting the rooms of each teacher in our group to look at what was on display. In our school the learner profile is displayed in every room, and it looks slightly different in every room. In my computer lab I have tried to show what each aspect of the learner profile means for students using technology:

Inquirers: We are curious about new things and we like learning new skills

Knowledgeable: We know how to use the equipment safely and why we have rules in IT

Thinkers: We think carefully about decisions we make using the computers and we are problem-solvers.

Communicators: We share our ideas with others respectfully, using different media and tools.

Principled: We always cite the sources of our work and the pictures we use in our projects.

Open-Minded: In IT we listen to others and we respect their ideas and abilities.

Caring: We try to help others and we are careful with the equipment and materials

Risk Takers: We have the confidence to try new things in IT

Balanced: We know how to use the computers and other equipment for work and play.

Reflective: We think about our skills in IT. We know when we have done well and when we could have done better.

As a teacher I'm conscious that I need to model the behaviours I would like to see in my students. I am always interested to try out new ideas and love doing things in different ways. Today in my MYP technology class I had another group of students who were making kites. At one point the students needed to calculate how much plastic they needed to have for making the sails of the kites and one student asked me if it was OK for him to use the calculator on his phone to work this out. I was amazed he asked this, since as a technology teacher I would always encourage the use of any technology the students might have. I was surprised to find that phones and the applications on them are banned in most lessons.

I then started thinking about what the learner profile would look like for administrators. Are they open-minded, for example, to the new ways that students can use the technology that they have in their pockets? Are they good communicators, working effectively and willingly in collaboration with others? Are they caring and supportive, showing empathy and respect towards the needs and feelings of others? Are they risk-takers, exploring new roles, ideas and strategies and are they brave and articulate in defending their beliefs? Above all, what I really want in an administrator is someone who is principled - someone who acts with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and respect for the dignity of others. This is exactly what the IB learner profile expects of our students, and we as adults in the school have to model this too.

Photo Credit: These photos were taken by my daughter, Rachel

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