From the October 2019 issue

Portrait of a Learner

The Portrait of a Learner is one of the pillars that unite Bloomfield Hills Schools in their effort to serve every learner, every day. Read on for more about this newly developed framework.

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Every student learns differently and the goal of Bloomfield Hills Schools is for all students to have the tools they need to be successful in life. The staff of Bloomfield Hills Schools continually challenge themselves to best meet the needs of students and this is what prompted the development of the Portrait of a Learner. 

Portrait of a Leaner strives to create opportunities for students at every grade level to inquire about the world, understand multiple perspectives, participate in respectful dialogue, grapple with complexities, and take responsible actions.

“The Portrait of a Learner is one of the pillars that unite us together in our effort to serve every learner, every day,” says Kimberly Hempton, director of elementary education for Bloomfield Hills Schools. “It’s a framework and mindset that can be applied to every single classroom and learning experience,” whether it’s a student taking a veterinary science class at the district’s working farm or a kindergartner in Spanish class. “The dispositions within our Portrait of a Learner apply in all settings because they are reflective of the tools our students will need and continue to develop for the rest of their lives,” she adds.

Guiding the learning process

The Portrait of a Learner applies to all learning environments across the district, but Hempton says it looks different at varying grade levels.

The disposition to inquire about the world in an elementary setting might mean exploring the rich cultural fabric of the classrooms through readings and personal interactions. In high school, it might mean creating knowledge of historical events in order to challenge existing stereotypes.  

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“The Portrait of a Learner will begin to take many forms across our district, but serves as constant lighthouse guiding the learning process,” Hempton says.  

It drives the way students are assessed as well. Instead of asking students to memorize information, teachers often ask students to analyze topics and provide their own viewpoints on them. It encourages students to apply the things they have learned at a deeper level or in a new context.

The themes of Portrait of a Learner aren’t just confined to the classroom. In fact, all of the adults within the district strive to demonstrate the traits of the Portrait of a Learner.

“It is up to all of us to model the Portrait of a Learner for our students and for one another,” Hempton adds.

Family and community involvement

 The district’s Instructional Leadership Team (ILT), together with staff in each building, developed the Portrait of a Learner through a year of reflection of past experiences, studying the district’s guiding principles, the International Baccalaureate profile, Project Zero, and other educational drivers used across the district. Through professional learning opportunities and collaborative interactions, Bloomfield Hills Schools continues to encourage all staff to bring the Portrait into practice in each of our learning contexts.

“We are grateful for the partnership with our families,” she says. “Children are continuously learning, both in and outside of school, so it’s important that we honor the multi-faceted ways our children engage in learning about their world.”

The district hopes families can also use the Portrait of a Learner to have serious discussions about everyday events and teach their children to interact with those around them and develop meaningful interpersonal relationships.

“We see our families and community members as our partnership in education. The more opportunities we have to actively engage our larger community in guiding documents such as these, the stronger we are for the students we serve,” Hempton says. “It takes a village to create the kinds of experiences we provide for our students. We need the support of the entire local community – from families to local businesses – to make it work.”

For more information on Bloomfield Hills Schools, visit bloomfield.org.

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