Journeys Through Teaching

Journeys Through Teaching

Exploring the IB Learner Profile: How do we help students make meaningful connections?

This week I began my new position as IB PYP Coordinator at AIS Kuwait.  One of the most important (but also potentially most challenging) things I am working on during our Orientation Week is some staff training sessions.  When I first started to think about what I should be covering in these I wondered how I’d fill the time, then quickly realised that actually the challenge would be deciding which things would have to wait until later in the year!

There’s a few reasons for this, firstly I’m acutely aware that teachers need this time at the beginning of the year to prepare for all that’s to come. Secondly, I’m not sure I can guarantee that any of us would be ready to respond positively to long CPD sessions about using data to support instruction and differentiation in the week before school begins. Thirdly, I need time to build relationships and trust in my new role. Also, whilst we have so much great practice evident in our school, we’re also always striving to move forward and find new ways to challenge ourselves to keep moving forward.  With this in mind I began prioritising which things we needed to do before school began. Some answers were easy: talk about classroom expectations (more about those another time); plan for the first week; give teachers new to the PYP a crash course to get them started. But one thing I kept coming back to is the way we use the Learner Profile, specifically how to use it to build community and promote learning both in and, critically, beyond school.

Our school is in a position (likely not unique) in which the parents of our students experienced a vastly different style of education to that which we provide. We’re also a large school with 7 form entry across our Elementary School. This raises some interesting questions for me.  How do we use the Learner Profile to promote shared values and community in school, beyond the walls of the classroom? Can it help us connect with our students families to support parents as their child develops as an IB learner? Can it offer us a way to promote a culture of Life Long Learning which is sustainable? Beyond the great learning in our classrooms, what connections can we make to the Learner Profile to show students the value of these attributes in the ‘real world’?

You’ll have noticed thought that these are pretty big, and pretty complex questions.  Ones that need time dedicated to them, require collaboration, research and experimentation.  I didn’t feel this was quite the time for that (an hour on the first day back!), however it is also too important to ignore.  So how to begin the process of maximising the way in which we use the LP? I chose to therefore focus our session on school identity.  We talked about what shapes AIS; being an IB continuum school, using CCSS, being in Kuwait, being an American International, our staff, our students, the community we are part of, the backgrounds of our students, etc. These were great conversations to listen to as I went around the room.  We then moved on to look at the Learner Profile.  I wanted our first consideration to be this:

How do we help our students connect to the Learner Profile?

Teachers worked in teams to consider examples, ways to model, definitions and explanations and activities which would work with both different grades and in both homeroom and specialist classes. You can see some of their thoughts in the pictures below:

LP 5

As an established IB school we’re fortunate to have a great blend of experienced voices and new perspectives when we consider ways to use the Learner Profile. As we move forward through the year I’m excited to see where we’ll take this next.  What ways can we find to leverage the LP to develop a stronger sense of school community, identity and agency?

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Emma Wheatley
Emma Wheatley


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