Walking the Walk: 10 Years and Counting

The Learner First was founded by Joanne McEachen (Waitaha, Ngāti Māmoe, and Ngāi Tahu) in Seattle, Washington, USA in 2012. Since that time, we have…

  • Over a decade of design, research and implementation for effective teaching and assessment in schools
  • Opened offices in USA, Australia and New Zealand
  • 5 researched and published books with global case studies
  • 16 countries using our tools and processes
  • Designed tools and systems for schools, governments, organizations and corporate partnerships

The problem we’re uniquely positioned to solve, and that we’ve been supporting our schools with for a decade, is HOW—how to use the power of teaching and learning to shape a better planet not defined by its crises, but by people’s contributions to others’ lives and the world.

A teacher shares her experience with The Learner First process.

2014 – Going global.

Built on experiences and successes with The Learner First, in 2014 Joanne co-founded New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL), an initiative that used a global set of tools and processes to implement competency-based learning in partner schools in Australia, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Uruguay, and the United States. As Global Measurement Director, Joanne designed-of-their-kind “Learning Progressions” that could be used across countries and cultures to measure students’ collaboration, communication, creativity, and other core competencies. The NPDL partnership effected purposeful, international collaboration between schools and generated 1000+ teacher-created showcases that exemplified leading-edge pedagogy for competency-based learning.

2018 – Measuring what matters.

In 2018, drawing from our global expertise in educational measurement and assessment and the evidence base collected from partner schools globally, The Learner First took another step in its evolution with the publication of Measuring Human Return (McEachen and Kane). The book lays a framework for measuring students’ self-understanding, sense of connection with others, academic knowledge, and competency—the outcomes that, together, help us contribute to people’s lives and the world. By measuring and so supporting the development of self-understanding, connection, knowledge, and competency, schools could teach students what it takes to contribute—not in a specific or standardized way, but in personally relevant, purposeful ways unique to individuals’ interests and goals. Contribution is the ultimate application of learning, and the action most tied to our sense of well-being. We experience the greatest sense of meaning and fulfillment when we’re able to contribute to people’s lives and the world.

2018 – Measuring what matters.

In 2018, drawing from our global expertise in educational measurement and assessment and the evidence base collected from partner schools globally, The Learner First took another step in its evolution with the publication of Measuring Human Return (McEachen and Kane). The book lays a framework for measuring students’ self-understanding, sense of connection with others, academic knowledge, and competency—the outcomes that, together, help us contribute to people’s lives and the world. By measuring and so supporting the development of self-understanding, connection, knowledge, and competency, schools could teach students what it takes to contribute—not in a specific or standardized way, but in personally relevant, purposeful ways unique to individuals’ interests and goals. Contribution is the ultimate application of learning, and the action most tied to our sense of well-being. We experience the greatest sense of meaning and fulfillment when we’re able to contribute to people’s lives and the world.