The Core Assumptions of Skillful Teaching (3260)

Stephen Brookfield outlines 4 core assumptions of skillful teaching

  1. Skillful teaching is whatever helps students learn

  2. Skillful teachers adopt a critical reflective stance toward their practice

  3. The most important knowledge that skillful teachers need to do good work is constant awareness of how students are experiencing their learning and perceiving teachers’ actions.

  4. College students of any age should be treated as adults.

    Let’s unpack that a bit shall we;

Point 1 Whatever Helps I think for me this is about individualizing my classroom to the needs of the students… knowing that one technique for engagement or way of learning will work for some and not all means that I need to evaluate my lessons and offer it in the way best to reach the broadest spectrum of the class makeup and then be prepared to engage students either 1:1 or through grouping similar types offer the curriculum or feedback in a different medium when needed. This also means that I need to let go and evaluate my own precepts throughout the course and be willing to abandon what I thought I would be doing for the greater good of the learner. In essence taking some risks.

Point 2 Critically Reflective Practice – As educators and life long learners we preach critical reflection in learning – thinking about thinking (Metacognition) and in this case thinking about thinking about our teaching in a sense. I like the 4 lenses that Brookfield talks about and think that feedback is the key. I have always preferred criticism via discussion and would likely employ the third lens by inviting colleague observation and feedback. Just as much as we formatively assess students throughout to ensure content is hitting it’s mark, I think it is important that we temperature check throughout a course by engaging the 2nd lens that Brookfield talks about and access our students through feedback techniques… and not just smile sheets either! true feedback

Point 3 Student Experience and Perception – This builds on the 2nd lens in some aspects and builds on the feedback that I wrote about in point 2… “more than a smile sheet”. Soliciting feedback, modeling reflective practice and doing so in an authentic and anonymous way, so that the students can see that you can be trusted not only with their true feedback but that they will not face repercussions in providing it. As educators, we should not be waiting until the END of the course to be gauging student perception.

Point 4 – Treated as Adults  This point speaks to not only communication practices but also the  authoritative role we have as educators. It also means recognizing adult learners needs are different. As Brookfield points out group or peer learning are often adult learning preference our classrooms should be geared and built around practices that cater to the adult learner.   While some students may have just entered adulthood and others may in fact be older than you as the instructor, there are pieces of acknowledging experience or lack of hat need to be accounted for, as well as recognizing the discomfort or disorientation they may be experiencing in learning.

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The Core Assumptions of Skillful Teaching (3260) by Bryce Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.


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