Understanding a new student's needs is a time consuming, but vital process. I myself and many other teachers have said, "If I'd only known, I could have made the student's transition better." When a student with educational needs that fall outside of the general education bubble applies to a school, either there is a great amount of paperwork that accompanies the application or there are clear gaps in the information.
The collecting of information from previous schools often falls on learning support teachers or school counselors who already have full schedules. Everyone has the best of intentions, but time is the enemy when it comes to thoroughly investigate the background of potential students with special needs.
The idea of a learner profile was born out of a chapter in “How to Personalize Learning,” by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey. In this chapter, the authors talk about how to teach students about their own learning profile and how to use agency to communicate their needs. But what if a student isn’t yet in a school to communicate his or her needs? I asked myself, shouldn’t we be able to communicate a student’s needs before they arrive at a school?
And so my journey of creating learner profiles for my internationally mobile clients began. I decided that there is key information that I would want to know about a student before he or she arrived in my classroom:
Present levels of performance
Strengths and weaknesses
The most important information is summarized for a school and therefore it is much easier to quickly have a clear understanding of a student’s needs. In this way, we are providing the narrative of a student's needs to a school rather than the school creating their own narrative.
Learner Profile Example: