Empower Every Learner with a Common Language around Learning

We can all agree that clear communication is key whether you are working in an office, providing directions in the classroom or teaching by remote. But communicating about how each child learns is not foundational information that most schools acquire. Why? Because we depend on standardized tests, and tests in general to discover a learner’s abilities (or disabilities) mostly in the major content areas, language arts and math.


Imagine if we could have every learner understand and share how they learn in a common language everyone uses.

Empower Learners with a Common Language

In previous blog posts, we introduced the 3-Step Empower the Learner Process that is designed from the Empower the Learner Framework: Identity – Skills – Outcomes.

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Identity: Who I am, How I Learn, What I aspire to be.
Skills: To support challenges, to enhance strengths, to grow socially, emotionally, cognitively and academically, to realize my hopes and dreams.
Outcomes: positive self-image, agency, mindfulness, growth mindset, self-advocacy

The 3-Step ETL Process that includes the ETL Profile, Personal Learning Backpack and Personal Learning Plan involves using language that every learner can use to to talk about and take action about their strengths and challenges in their learning using the UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express. This involves a common language which is the starting point in creating the conditions of diversity, equity and inclusion. If we are ever going to create learner-centered environments were every child is seen, heard, known and valued then we need to use a common language.

Move from a Culture of Secrecy to a Culture of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Where do you begin to move from the current culture of secrecy where so few share their identity to where it is acceptable to share who you are, how you learn and what you aspire to be? How do you create a classroom culture where every learner is seen, heard, known and valued–an inclusive and diverse learning culture with equity at the center? It begins with developing and establishing a common language around learning that everyone understands, uses and values. (The chart below includes the language that is used in the 3-Step Empower the Learner Process based on the research from the science of learning and Universal Design for Learning.)

Image description: Empower the Learner Profile: Identity – Who I am, How I learn: strengths, challenges, preferences, needs, access, engage, express; What I aspire to be – interests, talents, aspirations, hopes and dreams. Personal Learning Backpack: skills, practices, tools, apps, support challenges, enhance strengths. Personal Learning Plan: goal setting, action planning, self monitoring, reflection. Outcomes; positive self-image, practice of mindfulness, agency, self-advocacy, growth mindset.

This becomes the common language that can be used between teacher and learner, teacher and parents, learner and parent; day after day, year after year. A language that everyone uses, where everyone is included, where everyone becomes seen, heard, known and valued.

A Common Language that Empowers the Learner

So let’s go back to the beginning where we ask to imagine if every learner was empowered each day to know, understand and share their strengths and challenges around their learning using a common language that includes the UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express. We know from Josh Ecker’s blog post on self-efficacy that “identity is the key factor leading to learner empowerment, through the process of self-understanding, self-belonging, and self-discovery.” To discover yourself as a learner, Julie provides insight on how to begin with mindful exercises that offer the opportunity to slow down and savor the present moment from her post, “Take Five for Five”. And you can earn more about why “Identity is the on-ramp to learner empowerment”.

At Empower the Learner, we want every learner to say “I Believe in Myself”! We want every learner to be able to discuss and take action around the strengths and challenges in their learning. We want every learner to realize their hopes and dreams. We want to…

Empower every learner with a common language so that learning becomes a lifelong personal practice.


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