Brookfield core assumptions of a skillful teacher discusses four areas of awareness:
- Assumption # 1: Skillful Teaching Is Whatever Helps Students Learn
- Assumption # 2: Skillful Teachers Adopt a Critically Reflective Stance Toward Their Practice
- Assumption # 3: Teachers Need a Constant Awareness of How Students Are Experiencing Their Learning and Perceiving Teachers’ Actions
- Assumption # 4: College Students of Any Age Should Be Treated as Adults (Brookfield, p. 15-23)
This chapter is very informative and to the point. I really like the practical explanation of why each assumption is important. With each assumption, we realize another point of consideration in making us a more effective facilitator of learning.
By obtaining a sense of our classes’ makeup, needs, strengths, and weaknesses, we can effectively modify our teaching. For example, if our class is comprised of many ESL students who are not very proficient with English language, we may need to simply our teaching in order to more effectively communicate with the class. We need to “mix and match our teaching approach based on our most accurate reading” of the class’ diversity (Brooksfied, p. 19).
Critical reflection of our assumptions and actions allows teachers to ensure validity, effectiveness and accuracy of teaching. We can do this by seeking feedback from other colleagues, students as well as reading educational literature and performing own self reflection of our experiences.
In order to be aware of the students’ experiences due to our actions, student assessment tools should be used. The anonymous method of feedback ensures a safe feedback environment. If the feedback is incorporated in our teaching, we can further seek open feedback by showing students that we actually care and want to deliver an learning experience that is most conducive to their learning. I try my best to incorporate student feedback when possible. It builds a solid, open and trusting relationship with students. However, by doing this, I found that my weakness comes from students feeling so open that ‘too many’ requests are directed to me. I am still struggling with the balance between welcoming feedback and keeping up with trying to incorporate them.
Finally, student at college level of education are either adults or just verging on adulthood (usually 18-22 age group). The younger adults are in search for increased self awareness as a person, learner, and moral being. They view learning as a way to give them a “sense of independence, identity, control over their destiny, and create meaning in their lives” (Brooksfield, pg. 25). In this section, Knowles principles of andragogy comes to mind (Merriam, 2013). With keeping these six principles in mind, we can ensure adult learning is met and respected.
All the assumptions are points to keep in mind to help us become more effective teachers. It is through visiting these assumptions that we find new challenges in our teaching. It is through these assumptions that we find new energy and make a difference in our learner’s experiences.
Brookfield, S. D. (2000). The skillful teacher: On technique, trust, and responsiveness in the classroom (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2013). Adult learning: Linking theory and practice. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.