Being a skillful teacher is what I am striving to become but what does it mean to be a skillful teaching. For me a skillful teacher has tools and skills help learners get involved in their learning through activities and feedback. Information from students the teacher can address any concerns and making changes to lessons to help learners. They are also interested in finding different teaching tools to help with difficult topics and is also a continuous learner about our topics and teaching.
After reading Stephen Brookfield’s description of his four core assumptions of a skillful teacher I more clearly understand and describe the characteristics of a skillful teacher (Brookfield, 2015, p. 15). Brookfield’s assumptions are:
- Skillful teaching is whatever helps students learn. Some students may have understood an activity or lesson, but another will not. There are different reasons why activities work for one class or learner and not another. Teachers need to find different ways of delivering a lesson, beyond what we have done in the past or what we experienced in our own classes. (Brookfield, 2015, pp. 16-17)
- Skillful teachers adopt a critically reflective stance toward their practice. Brookfield suggests four “complementary lenses” to examine your practice: The students’ eyes – receiving feedback from students by using classroom assessment techniques. The second is colleagues’ perceptions – inviting a colleague to observe and comment on our teaching. Literature is the need for continuous learning about teaching and our topics. Finally, our autobiography or reflecting on our own learning experiences. (Brookfield, 2015, p. 21)
- The most important knowledge that skillful teachers need to do good work is a constant awareness of how students are experiencing their learning and perceiving teachers’ actions. This is receiving feedback from learners and building trust with them in order to receive helpful feed back. (Brookfield, 2015, p. 23)
- College student of any age should be treated as adults.
I found Jon Saphier video on the nine elements that make a successful teacher support Brookfield’s four assumptions. Click here to view the video. (Saphier, 2106)
A skillful teacher continually assesses what is happening in their classroom by soliciting feed back from learners by using classroom assessment techniques or small group feedback sessions. The skillful teacher uses this information to adjust activities or speaks with colleagues to find different ones that have shown success in the past.