Taking a Learner Profile Selfie

The IB learner profile is at the centre of the teaching and learning philosophy for the IB Mission. It is considered as the IB mission statement translated into a set of learning outcomes for the 21st century.  The ten IB learner profile attributes are aspirational and represent the characteristics most valued by IB Schools, the majority of which integrate these into their teaching and learning philosophies.

Among other things, we ask our students to be risk-takers, and inquirers and to be open minded and reflective. The question is whether we, as teachers, challenge ourselves in the same way as we challenge our students. I often ask teachers in my workshops to list the three learner profile characteristics that describe them the best, and then reflect on how these characteristics influence their teaching style and approach to course delivery. The answers are always varied, reflecting the fact that teachers mirror their students in the breadth of learning styles they enjoy, which in turn impacts on the way they tend to teach. This probably explains why participants in workshops also express preferences for online or face-to-face experiences.

As teachers, we undertake professional development for a number of reasons. Teachers on workshops, especially category 1, may be signed up because the school requires teachers to be trained for authorisation or the 5 year review.  Others may be there because of a desire to improve their CV.  However, the main reason is to support students in their IB programme, help them develop their personal and academic skills and to maximise their potential.

One of the concepts in Business Management is change. This is easy to illustrate in a commercial context, as environments become increasingly dynamic, volatile and unpredictable – an example, at the moment, is the relative chaos in the Chinese market. One of the major reason for commercial change is new technology and the impact this is having on communications, service delivery and operations. Within education new technologies are having a similar revolutionary impact; forcing schools and educators to reflect on approaches to teaching and learning – a key focus for the IB in 2016.

The learner profile expresses the view that we should ‘learn with enthusiasm and sustain our love of learning throughout life’. Schools are pressurised environments and time is at a premium for both students and teachers. The question I want to ask experienced IB teachers reading this post, is whether you are sustaining your love of learning and reflecting fully on your teaching styles and approaches? Are you challenging yourself to consider whether these approaches, however successful in the past, are still best suited to the future?  When I think back on my career, the times that I reflected the most on these questions were in professional development contexts – usually a workshop, although it might have been a school-delivered training. Here, I had some freedom (and time) to think and, by collaborating with fellow professionals, was able to be more objective about my strengths and weaknesses. I think that the resulting changes on my teaching were usually ‘at the margin’ – in other words one or two ideas that were actually put into practice. However, these changes were refreshing and significant and led to a desire to repeat the process when budgets and commitments allowed.

So what is the point of my musing? In a sentence – have you considered attending a workshop recently for the love of it? There are both category 2 and category 3 workshops available for experienced Business Management teachers to help revitalise subject enthusiasm, academic passion and drive or to develop a greater understanding of broader diploma issues. There are online and face-to-face opportunities available and even workshops blending the two approaches. The following providers offer IB authorised training:

So are you prepared to embody the learner profile attributes you promote to your students?

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