About 13 years ago I worked for Encana Corp, which is a midstream oil and gas company based in Calgary, Alberta Canada. During a monthly department meeting, my supervisor asked me a question regarding the repairs of a piece of equipment. After I successfully answered the question, he continued asking more questions, trying to figure out why the equipment was repaired in the first place. When explaining my reasoning’s, I said “In the past all nitrile seats were replaced with Teflon seats, I “assumed” it was okay to do it again”. It was the first and last time I used “assume” when explaining why I did something. My supervisor was livid, and told me to “never assume again!” Although I was right, I learned that assumptions could create negative effects.
In chapter two of the skillful teacher Brookfield (2006) listed the three core assumptions of skillful teaching:
- Skillful teaching is whatever helps students learn
- Skillful teachers adopt a critically reflective stance towards their practice
- The most important knowledge skillful teachers need to do good work is a constant awareness of how students are experiencing their learning and perceiving teachers’ actions.
After reflecting on assumption number one. I believe my teaching style constantly changes to match the students in class. Every semester I face different obstacles and challenges, so it’s impossible to use the same tactics with every class. I believe it’s comparable to flying an airplane. Although all airplanes can fly from point A to point B, it doesn’t mean the controls and functions of each craft operates the same. It takes a trained pilot to apply his skills to fly each model. Like a teacher we must use many teaching strategies and skills to help our students learn. Not all students operate and control the same.
Assumption number two is a very critical step, that I also encourage everyone to take part of. Although many of us “especially guys”, don’t enjoy spending time reflecting on our thoughts. It’s a valuable tool to use, as it allows us to view our own teaching habits from different points of view. Brookfield (2006) suggests that there are four lenses (ways) that we can self-reflect.
- Students eyes
- Colleagues’ perceptions
- Reading educational literature
- Review our own personal auto biography
I fully understand assumption number three. Being an Adult learner and teaching at the same time provides me a good sense, of what the students are going through. It is very important for us to understand how they feel while sitting through our lessons. It takes time to build trust with our students, so it’s critical that we come off as smart, funny, understanding, and confident. Having an understanding of how our students feel, allows us to judge each situation and make the required adjustments to satisfy them.