“Passion, hope, doubt, loneliness, glorious defeats, hollow victories, and above all, the certainties of surprise and ambiguity…….” The first sentence, in chapter one of The Skillful Teacher by Stephen Brookfield, pretty much sums up everything I feel about instructing. I thought I was alone in my feelings because I was new and unsure of my choice to become an instructor. Now after reading Brookfield’s chapter one, I understand that I am not alone and that even experienced teacher have similar feelings and emotions. This was a bold way to start a book, opening up and letting everything pour out. I was intrigued right away, I couldn’t wait to continue reading and see what else he had to say. I felt like Brookfield was talking directly to me, like he had somehow tapped into my emotions and thoughts on teaching. How as educators we put on a strong, brave front and do our best to “muddle through” I love that saying! Brookfield (2015) describes “Muddling through as the honorable response to uncertainty”. I know my course content better than most CDA’s in my field. I have over fifteen years of experience as a certified dental assistant, yet I can’t predict what is going to happen in my class from day to day. I could stay up late, reviewing ever note I have on a topic, practice this skill hundreds of times over my career, yet one question, one surprise response and everything changes. I love that Brookfield opens up and vocalises similar fears and doubts.
I found it intriguing that even though Brookfield’s has been teaching for over 40 years he say only recently has he grown into the truths of his own teaching. When reading his list of experiential truths, I found it no surprise that I could relate to a few of his:
- I will never be able to initiate activities that keep all students engaged at all time.
- Making full disclosure of my expectations and agendas is necessary if I am to establish an authentic presence in a classroom.
- I cannot motivate anyone to learn if at a very basic level they won’t wish to. All I can do is try to remove whatever organization, psychological, cultural, interpersonal, or pedagogic barriers are getting in the way of their learning, provide whatever model I can, build the best possible case for learning, and then cross my fingers and hope for the best.
I am looking forward to reading chapter two from The Skillful Teacher by Stephen Brookfield.
I got these beautiful sign made for my children’s teachers because I thought they were cute and more sentimental than a box of chocolates. Next time I am going to see if I can find ones that say “keep calm and muddle through”.
Reference: Brookfield, S. D. (2015). The skillful teacher: On technique, trust, and responsiveness in the classroom (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass