The language of learners

Learner Profiiles

You know that school has crept into your home life when you start to classify what your kids do in terms of “learner profiles.”

Hawaii public school report cards reflect a shift to building character, in addition to schoolwork. There are six “General Learner Outcomes” (GLOs): Self-Directed Learner, Community Contributor, Complex Thinker, Quality Producer, Effective Communicator, and Effective and Ethical User of Technology.

In addition, my son’s elementary school focuses on 10 “learner profiles” throughout the year: Inquirer, Thinker, Communicator, Risk-taker, Knowledgeable, Principled, Caring, Open-Minded, Well-Balanced, and Reflective. They are based on the International Baccalaureate program to develop active, compassionate, and life-long learners.

Building character is important, and I am happy that his school makes it part of everyday school life. At first, I was a little doubtful, because I wasn’t sure that elementary students could understand some of the attributes they were supposed to demonstrate.

Somehow those “learner profiles” slipped into our everyday conversations. When my 9-year old son decided on his own to sign up for a science fair project, I told him that he had “good initiative” and was an “inquirer.” When we played a game of “Monopoly” and he congratulated me on winning – and then helped me put away the game pieces, I congratulated him on his “good sportsmanship.” When he challenged himself to a 3K run instead of a 1k run (after picking up his running bib), I called him a “risk-taker.”

Those learner attributes have given me a new vocabulary to recognize my son’s good behaviors and actions. Instead of a generic “Good job!” I point out exactly what he has done that deserves praise. I commend his hard work and effort, as well as good grades. I am able to reinforce the study habits and values that he is learning at school.

The way I talk to my son has changed. I pay more attention when he makes good decisions, instead of only noticing his bad decisions. By focusing on good behaviors, he is less frustrated and I am less stressed about small misbehaviors.

Beyond that, using the language of learners, I have changed. I have become a little more positive and optimistic at home and work.

If you have school-age children, do you find the GLOs on report cards helpful? Do you use “learner profiles” in everyday conversations?

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