Creating Student and Class Profiles

“Kids of the same age aren’t all alike when it comes to learning any more than they are alike in terms of size, hobbies, personality, or food preferences”. ~ Carol Ann Tomlinson in her book “How To Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms”

British Columbia’s Policy for Student Success emphasizes student-centred learning, quality teaching and leadership, and healthy and effective learning environments. All of which are based on tailoring learning experiences based on diverse students’ interests and strengths. Universal Design for Learning is an approach supportive of planning to meet the needs of all learners and is fully explained in this PDF shared by SET-BC.

In an attempt to plan for flexible learning whether virtual or face-to-face delivery, it is important to know your students first. Below we have relied heavily on resources developed by Shelley Moore. Shelley’s inclusive learning resources, including the BlogSomeMoore Blog and 5 Moore Minutes YouTube channel are highly recommended resources to support planning for the needs of varied learners and, more generally, understanding inclusive pedagogies.

We plan with students in mind, not simply for curriculum. Two important tools are individual learner (student) profiles and class profiles.

Student Profiles

  • Students Strengths

This is an interesting holistic tool to learn about students strengths, interests, and issues they need support with. Ask students to answer Shelley Moore’s strength-based student profile to help you build your lesson, design activities and divide groups based on students’ strengths.

  • Learning Preference Inventory

While much learning styles research now tells us that no individual has a single learning style, students may have preferred modes of learning. Understanding student preferences can support teachers in planning for optimal engagement. Check this learning preference inventory provided by the Inclusive Education Library, of the government of Alberta.

  • Core Competencies

As students are engaged in the “doing” throughout lessons, they develop core competencies; sets of intellectual, personal and social and emotional proficiencies, which support students in their growth as educated citizens. Each competency has a number of profiles.

To support assessment as and for learning, students might complete this BC Core Competencies Self-Assessment questionnaires provided by Shelley Moore.

Consider the use of open-ended questions to encourage student self-reflection on the Core Competencies. Check pages 3 and 4 in this document provided by the BC Ministry of Education.

  •  Additional Considerations:

In remote learning, it is also important to know about your students’ current contexts including but not limited to the following:

    • Wi-Fi and digital device access (shared with others?; available time of day?)
    • Access to outdoor space (independent or with a parent needed?)
    • Learning preferences geared to distance education (online, video, chat, synchronous/asynchronous etc.)
    • Support available at home for online
    • Students confidence in appearing on camera
    • Availability of space for school work, if there are enough quiet spaces at home for online work (note working parents and any siblings)
    • Students’ preferred mode of learning particularly if a student requires frequent movement
    • Student’s need for additional one-to-one and best mode of contact

Class Profiles

At the beginning of the school year, many teachers conduct a classroom review with a school-based team. This review might be periodically revisited especially given changing circumstance/delivery of instruction. What about a Zoom meeting with some school members who are familiar with your students? The BC Universal Design for Learning class review resources designed by SET BC can help you frame questions to discuss in the meeting Be sure to watch the included video to learn how you might better understand the class ecology in order to plan based on the class’s strengths. (sorry video/resource link is not working… will source it or equivalent – stay tuned). 

  • Class Profile is another tool to provide a snapshot of the class strengths, stretches, class-wide goals, as well as individual needs.
  • Similar to the learning profile cards created by students (mentioned earlier), teachers could create a student dimension inventory that includes specific interests and strengths, supports needed, as well as targeted core competencies for class members (students).
  • Check out these inspiring class learning profiles templates.

Examples from real teachers and schools

  • Check out the video in this link (link broken – trying to source equivalent – stay tuned) to know ways some BC teachers used to know their students’ each year.
  • Interesting methods employed by Rose Valley Elementary school in their scanning phase to gather information for their students include:
    • Surveys
    • One to one conversations with individual students
    • Development and review of classroom profiles for each division
    • School Based Team data
    • Conversations with parents
    • Review of feedback from school-wide data from staff and student developed questionnaire
    • Early Learning Profile data
    • School Wide Write and Whole Class Reading Assessment Data
    • Report Card data
    • School-wide and classroom observations

Note: speaking with parents and previous teachers may  supplement your observations and help you gather information about students.

*If teaching online, you can observe students’ interactions with the online class, but note there might be subtle reasons for lack of interaction. For example lack of technological expertise with a certain app or distraction at the student’s workplace that you might among other possible explanations. Such lack of interaction could signal an opportunity for a supportive phone call.


Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms. Alexandria, Va: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Guest Post: Nashwa Khedr, EDCP graduate student, project assistant 2020

3 responses to “Creating Student and Class Profiles”

  1. Jenna links are not working

    1. yvonne dawydiak

      Thank you for the heads up Jenna. It seems like that project has archived resources – I found this PDF related to the original project that outlines UDL in quite good detail. I am searching for the video resources originally referenced and will post if I’m able to get them (or equivalents). Cheers and appreciate it! This kind of support/feedback is the only way to keep things current!

  2. Jestoni janaban

    Never give up

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.