How Profile of a Learner Can Help You Streamline Your Curriculum

profile of a learner

An effective profile of a learner (or profile of a graduate) will act as a North Star for teachers to not only meet subject-based standards, but to provide a rounded-out set of skills that benefit their students. I adore working with districts in this space to not only determine the effectiveness of the profile itself, but also to apply it to curricular and co-curricular programs.

This is an example from my work with Madison Public Schools in Connecticut, where we honed an original learner profile before integrating into their K-12 curriculum.

profile of a graduate
An example from Madison Public Schools in Connecticut

As you look at your school’s or district’s profile of a learner, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your profile connected, relevant, and important to the learners you have right now?
  • How might we continue to hone and revise it to make sure it’s reflective of the type of communities that you want to continue to build?
  • Are students prepared for evolving skills and requirements we’re seeing in the workforce?

Connecting Profile of a Learner Across Subjects

If your school district has ‘global citizen’ and ‘innovative problem solver’ as a part of its profile of a learner, how might you thoughtfully integrate those attributes into your math curriculum?

Yes, an innovative problem solver spends time looking at the problem they are trying to solve in the first place, which is a lot of what math teachers do every single day, but there must be a level of complexity and authenticity.

We want the student might to do a little bit more research to better understand the problem itself instead of simply turning something into an equation and solving for X.

Then it also has to have a real impact in a local and global community.

It’s these thoughts and ideas that can make a profile of a learner come alive with an opportunity to apply that learning on a regular basis in service to those desires.

Connecting Profile of a Learner Across Curricular and Co-Curricular Activities

We can apply profile of a learner across subjects, but we can also apply it across activities, encouraging students to look for learning opportunities everywhere.

By leveraging our profile of a learner, we allow it to influence our curriculum, co-curricular activities, and personalization so that we can see student development taking place both inside and outside of the classroom.

Outside of School

A middle school student teaching guitar after school to other children is communicating technical skills to coach performance.


High school students participating on a debate team are learning how to use evidence and rhetoric to quickly develop a claim and rebuff the other side.


Elementary students designing a piece of art paired with an artist statement that is displayed in a public showcase.

When students have an opportunity both to engage in these powerful experiences and have the expectation to curate examples that they identify as personally meaningful, they are building a portfolio of accomplishments anchored in the profile.

Which they can then use to examine growth over time, take more of a leadership role in student-led conferences, and have evidence of their work to share with prospective employers and to use with post-secondary application process.

An Elementary Example of Implementing Subject Area Goals

Profile of a learner clarifies the broader aims of a subject area, something I recently executed with Little Elm ISD.

Transfer goals and 2nd grade storyboard from Little Elm ISD

In the first picture, you can see the territory of transfer goals and a powerful team of math instructional specialists, supervisors and teacher leaders starting to articulate the power of the seven transfer goals.

I love the first transfer goal, “experience the wonder, joy, and beauty of mathematics,” but each and every one has a vital aspect in terms of growing the students’ capacity as they think, investigate, imagine, and create solutions to problems and challenges in the real world.

Now, with the image on the right, you start to see the power in pairing the transfer goals with Curriculum Storyboards.

So the notion of starting to lean in and look at a Grade 2 math storyboard is the opportunity to think not only about how we are cultivating that level of strategic nature, problem-solving prowess, and finding math all around us, but also celebrating the beauty of the language.

The Power of Profile of a Learner

I love the opportunity to work with schools and districts on their profile of a learner or profile of a graduate because it allows for streamlining of curriculum and the innovation of taking clear goals and applying them across a number of areas.

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I work with school clients to reexamine curricular documents and develop challenging, joyful, and aspirational learning experiences for students and staff.