by Stacy Linn, Ed.D.
What are we preparing our learners to do? This is the question that educators, principals, parents and community members were constantly asking in our school district. Some stakeholders may say, “to answer questions on the big accountability test” while others would say “to prepare our learners for the future”. Out of frustration educators may even say, “Just tell us what we’re doing and we will do it, but don’t change it”. Our leadership team knew our vision, but we wanted everyone to know and understand that vision and for everyone to want it for our learners, too! This was what started our journey toward developing the Powell County Schools Learner Profile, our vision for Powell County graduates.
The first component of setting the vision was for educators and administrators to see different learning experiences! Staff members from Powell traveled to Wisconsin over the course of two years to participate in professional learning and to see personalized learning in action with the i4PL team. That opportunity opened our eyes to different experiences for our educators and learners. In order to create those experiences we needed a clear vision that everyone in the community could support, understand, and embrace. To make that happen we reached out to the i4PL team to develop a plan.
This past summer, over fifty stakeholders gathered to learn and grow together to develop our learner profile with Kate Sommerville, Professional Development Specialist and Brenda Vogds, Director of i4PL, leading our team. In the past we tried working through this process on our own and landed on the same competencies as other districts, but it did not feel special to our graduates. Going through this process with Kate and Brenda allowed us to create a profile that was unique to our beliefs and values for our community. An important component of our time together included our action plan- everyone in the room was vocal that this could not just live on the wall, but it would serve as our North Star for everything that we do in the future!
We communicated the story of our learner profile via a video that was shared on our website, social media platforms, our opening day ceremony, and in our classrooms across the district. We wanted to include quantitative data for tracking the implementation of the profile with students in grades 6-12 completing surveys and will follow up at the end of the year with the same survey. Our educators will share how they are implementing the learner profile during a planning day in January as a time for demonstration and learning as a school community. The next steps include breaking the learner profile competencies into grade level expectations. Secondary schools are collaborating to create a digital portfolio for students to collect evidence of their work samples toward the learner profile competencies. The action plan we developed with i4PL is what keeps us on target to keep our learner profile alive in our community.
The learner profile does not exist in isolation as just another thing on the plate. It is organically leading our work for this year in a way that we only dreamed would happen! We currently have a K-12 district-wide Math and ELA team that are working through the curriculum development framework. This includes setting the vision specifically for the content areas. The teams naturally went to the fact that these visions must be grounded in our Powell learner profile. As these teams review current research for reading and math classroom instruction they will create a vision that will change the classroom experience for future students. It is our hope that every learner will have equal access to classroom opportunities where they develop themselves as collaborators, communicators, contributors, and critical thinkers.