What is the Learner Profile?

Who do you want your students to become? In other words, what is your mission as a teacher? We want students to learn and increase their knowledge, and we want them to think critically, but these are actions. What qualities do they need to have to thrive in the 21st century? How do we want the to grow as people and as learners?
Clip art: Melonheadz

The International Baccalaureate (IB), a non-profit educational foundation, offers four curriculum frameworks that strive to develop and prepare students to become global citizens, and the Learner Profile embodies their core mission. There are 10 traits, or attributes, that make up the Learner Profile:

  1. Thinker
  2. Communicator
  3. Inquirer
  4. Risk-taker
  5. Balanced
  6. Caring
  7. Reflective
  8. Knowledgeable
  9. Open-minded
  10. Principled

 Have a look at this inspiring video to get a better sense of what the Learner Profile is...

Click HERE for more detailed definitions of the Learner Profile attributes.

My school follows the IB's Primary Years Programme (PYP) curriculum framework which also centers around the Learner Profile (LP). That means that as teachers, we are always striving to develop the whole child. You might be wondering, how do you teach students about the LP attributes? Good question!

While my goal is to continually foster the LP attributes to such a degree that they are a part of the fabric of our classroom environment, I first begin by explicitly introducing a trait (one at a time, as they lend themselves to our units) usually through the use of a picture book. The power of story goes a LONG way with students, and I have found that after analyzing a book character, a student is better able to reflect and recognize the trait in others as well as him/herself - and obviously, discussing the learner profile is also a great way to reinforce character analysis!

As a way to support this instruction, I created Learner Profile posters to display in my classroom. Most of the posters I had come across were too limiting or simplistic, so I wrote my own definitions of each attribute based on the IB's definitions. In the spirit of a community of learners, they are written in "we" language instead of "I"(We are thinkers who...). I tried to write more kid-friendly definitions without watering them down too much. I was mindful to keep what I believed to be the essence of what the IB intended. Instead of seeing "long" definitions as a problem, I chose to see them as a way to deepen students' understandings. Part of really knowing each attribute involves dissecting its meaning. I want my students to think more deeply, so we consider all the components of the definition.

I use these posters in an interactive way by having students post their photo by the attribute they think they demonstrated on a given day or in a certain situation. This opportunity usually comes up during class discussions, morning meeting or closing circle. I try hard not to force this process- I want it to come from the students, not me, so if I "force" them to reflect and share, it loses its power and effectiveness. We do it frequently, but it's not set in stone as part of our weekly schedule. Once this "Leaner Profile sharing" becomes part of our class, the sharing flows naturally from the kids who come to me and say that they'd like to talk about what attribute they have been developing.

Additionally, I really like having the Learner Profile posted for my own benefit as it helps to remind me to use the vocabulary while teaching and talking with my students. Again, this makes everything about it real and relevant, not contrived and forced. Obviously, it takes time for students to develop their understandings of these traits, as well as the ability to notice in themselves and others. If I model these attributes in my language, they will also acquire it.

I have just opened my (baby) TpT store to include the two sets of Learner Profile posters I made. The first set has a neutral color sceme and inviting Melonheadz clip art for younger, primary students. It includes 8.5 x 11 sized posters as well as a set of space-saving mini-posters. It also comes with a cute decorative bunting! Click on the picture to check it out.

Set 2 has a bright multi-colored scheme and clip art that appeals to older students. It includes 8.5 x 11 sized posters as well as a set of space-saving mini-posters. It, too, comes with a fun bunting-polka dots!

Even if you do not teach at an IB school, the Learner Profile is an excellent way to promote positive social skills and character development in your students.

Who do you want your students to become?

Signature photo ScreenShot2013-04-26at54143PM.png


  1. This year, I'm trying out something a little different with LP. Each unit of inquiry has around 3 LP attributes to focus on. Throughout the unit I take pictures and as a class we look at the pictures and decide which of hue LP they are showing and add these pictures to the LP poster with a little caption. At the end of the unit students can have copies of the pictures to put in their portfolio. As long as I remember to take pictures it works great! Also, I've started sharing with the kids what learner profile attributes they will need to use to be successful at an activity or partner work.
    Last year, in addition to the learner profile, I started using the PYP attitudes vocabulary in my classroom. These are words I have up in my class too, maybe as more of a reminder for me right now than for my kids.

    1. Hey Carrie! Thank for your comment :) I love your idea about having students reflect on photos you've taken of them- learning in action. I'd like to try that next year (since we only have 2 units left!)
      I need to work on talking about the attitudes, too. I agree that having them posted helps you to use the vocabulary more often. Just by including it in discussions, it really helps the kids deepen their understanding. I'm working on a set of attitude cards right now!
      Take care!

  2. Hi Karli,
    I just found you from TPT-I purchased your Learner Profile posters--to spruce up mine that I've used for three years.
    Check my blog out: lovelyninadesigns.blogspot.com
    -Lovely Nina

    1. Thanks, Nina! Do you teach at a PYP school?
      Checking out your blog now!


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