A learning profile is a comprehensive framework that assesses a teacher's strengths and weaknesses, and their areas for growth. It’s one of the most important tools you have at your disposal as an educator. After all, how can you improve if you don’t know what you’re doing right or wrong? You may assume that your students are the only ones who need to be assessed, but this couldn't be further from the truth. In order to improve your lessons and better help your students succeed in class, it’s crucial to also do an assessment of yourself — as a teacher.
As a teacher, it’s crucial to know whether or not you’re doing the most effective job you can. In order to assess yourself, you need a comprehensive tool that provides insight into your strengths and weaknesses, as well as areas for growth. This is what a learning profile is.
Why a learning profile is important
Having a learning profile is important because it allows you to keep track of what you’ve learned about a topic. Keep track of what you’ve learned about a topic, because it allows you to reflect on your past self and it allows you to learn from a more rational and objective perspective.
Why is a learning profile important? It’s simple really: learning profiles help teachers improve and grow. At least that’s what they were created to do.
It’s no secret that you need to keep learning, but how do you stay up-to-date with the latest in education? You’re busy and teaching is hard work. There’s just not enough hours in the day for you to sit down, read books and articles, then try to put what you’ve learned into practice. That’s where a ‘learning profile’ comes into play: it makes sure you stay current with what is going on across a range of different areas of pedagogy.
A learning profile is based on a list of topics that you want to learn about. It’s more than just a list of resources, it’s also a list of actions you take to learn about these topics.
It takes time and effort to develop a learning profile, but you can save yourself time and effort in the long-term by doing it upfront and optimizing your learning conditions and variables.
The list of topics in your learning profile are topics you feel are relevant to you. You can add as many or as few as you like, but here are some suggested priorities to get you started:
Input — Read articles on the latest teaching techniques, technologies and trends.
Output — Write about what you’ve learned in online forums (like this one) and on your blog.
Analysis — Rethink what you know about pedagogy by critiquing other people’s thoughts and ideas.
Planning — Use your knowledge to plan ahead for upcoming lessons or activities.
Implementation — Apply all previously mentioned skills to create new lessons, projects, etc.
Evaluation — Assess how well your students are doing in your class. This is where Google Forms comes in handy.
2. How to get started with a learning profile
One of the best ways to keep track of what you have learned is to have a learning profile. A learning profile is where you add in what you’ve learned, what you’re learning, and what you’re planning to learn. It’s a great way to keep track of your progress and see what you’re focused on. Plus, it allows you to identify the biggest roadblocks in your path.
It's easy to dismiss this as just another thing that teachers should do on top of everything else they have going on. But this isn't just another thing — it's one of the most important things that any teacher can do to improve their teaching and, by extension, the learning outcomes for their students.
Learning profiles are a powerful tool to help teachers improve their practice and grow as professionals. They provide a way for teachers to make the most of their professional learning time. Teachers have opportunities to reflect on their strengths and areas for growth, set goals, and monitor progress.
Learning profiles can be an effective way to learn more about your teaching practice, think through your own needs and identify actions you want to take. And they can bemused at many points throughout your career including:
when you feel stuck in your teaching,
after you have taken part in professional learning,
when you are preparing for additional teaching responsibilities or a new school year,
or even just when you want to reflect on your current practice.
You can get started on completing a learning profile in three steps:
Identifying what matters to you (your values)
Identifying how you currently meet these priorities (your strengths)
Identifying which priorities you would like to focus on in future (your next steps)
3. Hone in on your strengths and weaknesses
When we learn, we are often encouraged to dive in headfirst. But for learning about ourselves, this kind of instant gratification is not always the best strategy.
What am I capable of?
What am I looking for from this experience?
How can I use what I learn to shape my future?"
Who am I?
What do I want?
How do I learn best?
The answers to these questions will help you set goals for your own learning. In fact, the more clear you are about your goals for self-development, the faster and more effectively you will achieve them.
Whether you are a teacher who wants to improve his instructional strategies or a student who wants to master a new software program, these questions apply. Learning profiles can help you pinpoint exactly where your strengths and weaknesses lie so that you can hone in on your strengths and minimize time spent on weaknesses.
Develop strategies to improve your lessons
You know there is always room for improvement. You want to provide the best education possible for your students, and that means continually striving to find ways to make lessons work more effectively.
What's the best way to do this? By developing strategies that enhance lessons and help you grow as a teacher. The key is developing these strategies yourself instead of relying on other people, such as instructional coaches or administrators, to do it for you. Here are some tips.
Plan your lessons
You have known for years the importance of planning your lessons carefully. It's not just a matter of knowing what you want to teach; it's also having a clear sense of how you will teach it, and how students will learn it.
It's challenging to develop this kind of long-term vision while managing the daily demands on your time. That's why teachers need to use their time well — to be efficient and effective.
Planning takes time, but it's worth the effort. Effective lesson planning is the key to reaching student success in the classroom and in life. A solid foundation is everything. Take time at the beginning to lay out all the materials you'll need and make sure they're ready beforehand.
When taking time to develop a plan, your curriculum may provide some guidance, but most teachers find they have room to tweak it in order to fit their own style.
Consider not only what you'll teach but also how you'll teach it:
Will there be any different activities or techniques?
What will be the pacing of the lessons?
Do field trips fit in anywhere?
Who will you go to for advice?
These decisions can make a big difference in your experience as a classroom teacher.
Observe other teachers
It's possible to learn a lot about effective teaching simply by watching other teachers, especially those who are highly rated by their students. Observing people who are more effective than you can help you identify elements that work in real classrooms, and it can provide you with the opportunity to ask them questions about how they do things.
Try out new ideas with colleagues and peers before bringing them into your classroom. Collaboration is an essential part of professional development, and nothing beats bouncing ideas off of one another to get feedback on both content and delivery. If a colleague has an idea for improving a lesson, try it out yourself before passing judgment on it.
What can you gain from creating your own learning profile?
Oh, learning profile — what a wonderful thing you are. I just love the way you come up with so many different ways to track my progress and help me identify gaps in my learner knowledge.
When you take a good, long look at your teaching skills, you get to see what works for and against you in the classroom. Plus, having an honest view of yourself as a teacher will help you develop more effective teaching techniques.
If you know where you fall short in your classroom management skills, for example, it's easier to improve. And if you’re aware of which subjects are challenging for you to teach, you can seek additional help in those areas and be better prepared the next time around.
The teacher learning profile is an incredibly valuable tool that can be used to better yourself as a teacher. So the next time you sit down to plan, before opening your lesson plan template or even delving into the materials you’re going to be presenting in class, take some time to conduct an assessment of yourself as a teacher.
You may find that this small bit of self-reflection ends up being one of your most important building blocks to effective teaching.