Using the learner profile to learn through and about crisis

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Guidance for teachers across IB programmes. This resource provides teachers of learners from 3 to 18 with opportunities to explore the learner profile attributes in times of crisis.

When teaching during a crisis, be aware that attending to learners’ emotional needs is just as important, if not more important, than the content being discussed. There may be learners, teachers or community members who find themselves closely connected to the crisis or emotionally impacted.

During times of crisis, the IB’s learner profile attributes can be used to consider effective teaching practices and to support the well-being of students.



Learning considerations in times of crisis 


Emotional distress impacts the capacity of learners and teachers to focus for long periods. 

Provide time and opportunities for personal and collaborative inquiry. 

Acknowledge learner questions and offer opportunities to follow up. 

Reduce direct instruction allowing more time for active learner engagement. 


The continuation of learning and routines support well-being. Routines and learning provide structure and stability.  

Adjust content and set realistic expectations to meet the learning and emotional needs of learners. 

Create routines with some breaks and some space for flexibility. 

Provide learners with the opportunity to give input into routines. 

Encourage learners to focus on their progress, celebrating strengths and achievements to build confidence and self-esteem. 


Supporting learners in navigating and evaluating what they see and hear in the news, on social media and in conversations with their peers helps learners build their understanding of crises. 

Introduce carefully selected media resources as provocations to encourage safe and healthy discussions. 

Limit exposure to news, media and current events taking into account the needs of learners. 

Provide experiences to support learners in critiquing and evaluating the reliability and bias of a source. 

Encourage learners to search for evidence to support arguments and counterarguments. 




To ensure open communication, it is important to honour learner identities. Providing learners with opportunities to choose their language of preference and modes of communication supports learner agency. Providing opportunities for collaboration and listening to diverse perspectives helps everyone feel part of the community. 

Teach learners how to engage in productive discourse and respectful debate. 

Provide multiple opportunities to engage learners in multimodal dialogue independently and in groups. 

Use Visible Thinking Routines and other discussion protocols to ensure all learners voices are represented. 

Use prompts to encourage conversations. 


When dealing with any crisis, consider fairness and justice. Engaging in thoughtful dialogue can establish trust and a safe learning environment.  

Co-create guidelines or essential agreements to ensure all learners can engage in productive dialogue based on trust. 

Use thinking routines and protocols to explore different viewpoints and challenge existing thinking and opinions. 

Encourage learners to think before they speak and consider the perspectives of others. 


Learners may respond to events differently depending on their values and environmental and cultural experiences. Supporting learners in being receptive to other ideas, experiences and perspectives will help them empathize and understand others. 

Encourage learners to be curious about what others feel, experience, think and share. 

Demonstrate appropriate, non-judgemental responses to diverse ideas, experiences and perspectives. 

Provide learners with opportunities to consider other perspectives and ideas. 

Provide opportunities for learners to role-play and practice engaging in productive conversations around sensitive topics and issues. 


Ongoing expressions of compassion, empathy and respect are crucial in creating safe environments for learners and for establishing trust. These expressions should be culturally responsive and respond to and respect the identity of individual learners.  

Be gentle with yourself and others. 

Greet learners at the door to make them feel welcome, offering a variety of ways to say hello—high 5, fist bump, wave. 

Use mentors or buddies to do check-ins with one another. 

Celebrate simple acts of kindness to promote caring behaviours.  


Risk-taking during crisis is about flexibility and risk management. Educators could when required, improvise learning experiences by taking into account ‘capacity to cope’—the learners’ capacities to cope as well as the teacher’s capacity to cope.  

Co-create learning plans and goals with learners. 

Adapt curriculum content that might be sensitive to learners. 

Provide choice and support to learners in how they manage their time. 




Balance is key to well-being. Allowing space and time to address intellectual, physical, social and emotional needs helps learners navigate mental blocks in times of crisis. Workloads should be adapted to balance time between learning and addressing other needs.   

Discuss with learners the importance and impact of healthy nutrition and sleep. 

Introduce and implement stress-reduction techniques. 

Provide breaks and opportunities for physical activity, play and relaxation throughout the day. 



Taking time throughout the day to reflect, acknowledge feelings and share helps learners feel safe in their environment. Ongoing reflection also supports learners in understanding how to address and regulate emotions to navigate mental blocks.  

Designate time for regular check-ins throughout the day. 

Implement restorative circles to engage learners in reflective dialogue. 

Use various methods to support learners who are ready to share and learners who feel vulnerable sharing. 

Value the different ways that learners choose to express their reflections.