Student Profiles


Having students create a learner profile for themselves is a great way to have them develop a better and fuller understanding of who they are as learners. In creating their profiles, students can reflect on what motivates and challenges them when learning. This develops their independence and places them in a better position to self-advocate for the tools, learning materials and presentation options that can optimize their learning experiences.

According to Kathy Howery at the University of Alberta, a learner profile should include:

  • formative assessments
  • summative assessments
  • student’s interests
  • learning preferences
  • strengths
  • needs
  • examples of supports that have worked in the past

The purpose of creating learner profiles is not to label students and relegate them to categories. It is also not to emphasize any disabilities. Learner profiles should be created collaboratively with students and parents to help inform educators design instructional activities and materials to provide the necessary options their students need in order to effectively access the classroom curriculum.

Learner profiles can be expanded to portfolios that grow with the student and continue with them as students move from grade to grade.  With a well developed profile, transitions into new learning environments will be much smoother because the receiving educators will have something they can refer to when planning for new classes.

In this video, teachers share some strategies they use to get to know their students each year.  They also highlight how each year is different and how critical they feel it is to develop relationships with their students so they all can experience success in their classrooms.

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Jeff Fitton, Skaha Lake Middle

Ultimately I like to start and think, you know, relationships are key. You can’t do anything without knowing your kids, or having that relationship.

I remember a teacher once told me, he said you know, don’t worry about curriculum. Throw it out, relationships are what’s important. And when I first began, I said, well you can’t do that, right? You have a job, you have this dedication to students that you have to have. And I kind of misunderstood what he said. He meant throw out curriculum when you have to, right? I mean if you have to create relationships, if you’re not going to be able to teach kids in, maybe, that are down and out or downtrodden or they just don’t trust the system, well yeah, you have to create a relationship first. And it’s only started to dawn on me over the years that that is the crucial piece. Curriculum comes later.

Pam Rutton, K.V.R. Middle

We do a lot of team building activities, and just, you know, nothing to do with math, but even just in those little activities you get quite an awareness of a student. So it’s more just about building that relationship with them, and then you recognize their strengths and weakness that way.

Naryn Searcy, Princess Margaret Secondary

I personally do a survey at the beginning of every class every semester, just everything from personal background to their history in the subject area to things they like to do outside of school, usually put a whole bunch of activities down there that we would potentially do in the class and ask them to rank it, you know what would you enjoy doing, what would you not like doing. So just to get an idea of who is in the classroom to begin with and what they would benefit, or what they want to see in the class, what would work for them.

It’s a huge head start I think. So before you even start putting things together you have an idea, okay, this particular student hates writing, so expect a problem, or this student loves to draw so you’re looking for ways to incorporate that strength into their experience or.  Yes I think that’s definitely, I can’t imagine not, trying to work from that perspective.

Jeff Fitton, Skaha Lake Middle

Where the innovation part comes in is find out what they’re good at, what they like, if you have not a single kid who likes video in your class, don’t do video. If you have kids that love hockey, have hockey incorporated somehow. If you have teenagers of any sort, they like to move around or be outside. So if you’re having trouble with students taking notes off of a board, put them around the room. Make a scavenger hunt where they have to run around the school looking for it.

Dave Searcy, Penticton Secondary

I really want my students to be thinking about, what is it they want to be learning and should be learning, and not just be told what they should be learning, so they can sort of take that forward.

Dave Searcy speaking to class

And you’re going to email them to me? Alright.

Dave Searcy, Penticton Secondary

Also we get hung up on group roles I think and some of our students are quieter, not every student has to speak out, not ever student has to speak all the time in a group, these students are quiet but they have skills and talents, and their peers accept them. And we should accept them. And I was thinking of the one young lad, he just stuck his head in the door here, he didn’t come to class because the camera was here, I’m pretty sure. And he’s terribly shy, but you know he has some great talent. I’ve watched him and I’ll say, or 1. So sometimes I say groups of 1 to five. And even though I want it to be a group assignment, I’m willing to just say, you know what, it’s not going to work for him. I’m going to change my rules because it will work for my students. And I think being able to let go of our, those rigid guidelines that we have within our rooms helps.

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