Recently a friend shared with me that she had been asked to become the new 5th grade teacher at the school where she has been working as an academic interventionist. She was thrilled to have the opportunity to provide predictable routines, structure, and connection for this group of young people.
She was overwhelmed at how to begin building meaningful relationships, especially in the middle of the year with a group she hadn’t yet met. I shared with her the idea of using one page profiles as a way of getting to know her new students. She was excited by the concept and ready to give it a try. She created her own one page profile that she shared with her students on her first day, and then invited them to begin creating their own. Her goal was to build authentic relationships by learning about the students directly from themselves.
To make the experience more inclusive, she also connected the one page profiles with an art component, and invited students to include a visual representation of who they were alongside their written description. Several of her students prefer to communicate through drawing, so they LOVED getting to artistically show who they were. This added component was an even more in depth way to learn about what was important to each student. As part of this exercise she also reached out to school staff members who already had meaningful relationships with the students and asked them to share what they liked and admired about each student. Sharing these observations from the other staff with her students was very powerful and inspired the students to add these positive observations and qualities to their one page profiles.
Through these one page profiles, my friend, their teacher, has learned that each of her students hold beautiful qualities, strengths, and reflective ways they want to grow, and learned how to support them in ways that they want. In contrast, if she had only learned about her students through the systemic documentation based on the students’ hardest moments and times of unmet needs, she would have had a much different impression of her new students. Being the incredible educator she is, she knew a classroom narrative built on seeing and understanding each student from their own perspective first was something each of those 5th graders deserved. Through one page profiles, she was able to do this and cultivate meaningful connections with her students, and build a compassionate and supportive classroom culture that continues to grow each day.