Brookfield believes that not all learners learn at the same level, from the same instructional strategy, or have the same desire to learn. Therefore the Instructor must have the ability to get an “accurate reading” (Brookfield p. 18) of the diverse learners in the classroom and adjust their facilitation based on the learners needs.
He states that a skillful teacher will be aware of “habits of mind and of practice” (Brookfield, p. 18). But “sometimes they get in the way, leading us to do things out of habit that student’s find unhelpful” (Brookfield p. 18). Adult educators often use standardized or past practices for instruction and these often have a negative impact for some of the learners. In the adult educator role you must have the competence to identify when learners are confused or struggling and to recognize when to intervene for the benefit of the learner.
Skilled educators “adopt a critically reflective stance towards their practice” (Brookfield p.
17). Brookfield defines critical reflection as, “the process by which we research the assumptions informing our practice by viewing these through four complementary lenses’; the lenses of students’ eyes, colleagues’ perceptions, literature, and our own autobiography” (Brookfield p. 26). By “viewing our classroom choices and decision through the four lenses of critical reflection increases chances that our action will be based on assumptions that are accurate and valid” (Brookfield p. 26).
I chose this quotation as I feel that it is essential in my role as an adult educator to understand the rationale why standardized practices do not work for every learning situation and the impact that utilizing standardized practices have in the learning environment. Throughout the Provincial Instructors Diploma Program I have learned that adult learners come to class with a variety of learning styles, experiences, prior knowledge and desire to learn.
Adult educators must have “constant awareness of how students are experiencing their learning and perceiving teacher’s actions” (Brookfield, p. 17). As a facilitator in the adult learning environment I must have the skills and ability to facilitate the students learning, be cognizance of how adult learners learn, and be responsive.
As a nurse and nursing educator I engage in critical reflection on a daily basis, I ask myself and my colleagues, what did I do well, what could I have done better in that situation? By engaging in critical reflection I identify what needs improving to ensure the best outcomes for my patients and or learners.
In the Provincial Practical Nursing Program in British Columbia there is an enormous amount of theory that the learner is required to comprehend. As a facilitator I must have the ability to deliver this content in an engaging and motivating manner. At times this can be challenging to ensure that all learners’ needs are being met. By incorporating Brookfield’s three phases of “scanning, appraisal, and action” (Brookfield p. 6) will enhance my facilitation skills in recognizing what needs attention, analyzing the situation and acting to facilitate the learners in achieving their learning goals.
I have a professional obligation to engage in lifelong learning. I have had experiences in courses or workshops where the session has been less than advantageous to me as a learner. There are many reasons that this has occurred. Examples are due to not understanding the content, poor facilitation skills, having prior knowledge about the subject matter or being
unmotivated. The facilitator was either complacent or did not read their audience, so this went unnoticed.
“Classroom reality can never be predicted” (Brookfield pg. 18). Each learner comes to the classroom with “varying levels in their readiness to learn, their intellectual acuity and their previous experience in the subject” (Brookfield p. 19). As an adult educator you must not assume that standardized practices will work when instructing the same course with a different set of learners. Learners are diverse and no set of learners will respond to your instruction in the same manner.
By being a skillful teacher empowers you to have the ability to scan, appraise and take action to adjust your instructional strategies at any time throughout the session. By utilizing
Brookfield’s three phases allows the instructor to determine the best method to fit the current situation to benefit the learners.
After reading the assigned chapters in The Skillful Teacher by Stephen D. Brookfield I will continue to go into the learning environment prepared. This will include knowing the learners, having and maintaining current knowledge on the subject matter, having lesson plans developed, and a variety of instructional strategies to use for the session. I will start to prepare alternative instructional strategies and list these on my lesson plan in brackets beside each instructor activities and or learner activities. This will assist and guide me in changing focus at any given moment during the session.
I will continue to ensure “constant awareness of how students are experiencing their learning and perceiving my actions” (Brookfield p. 17). By utilizing Brookfield’s three phases of scanning, appraisal and action will be valuable to both the learners and myself. It will assist me in meeting the learner’s needs and will lessen or prevent me having to muddle through a teaching session. After each class session I will continue to engage in critical reflection on what went well and what needs to change in the session to benefit the learners.
To further my role of facilitator in adult education I will “continually attempt to shape teaching and learning environments into democratic spaces of knowledge and exchange” (The University of Sydney). I will accomplish this by collecting feedback from learners and colleagues, engaging in critical reflection and reading scholarly articles.
Brookfield, Stephen, D., (2005), The Skillful Teacher On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom
The University of Sydney, Brookfield’s Four Lenses: Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher, Retrieved from