PIDP 3260 Professional Practice
Vancouver Community College
May 26, 2018
In The Skillful Teacher, Dr. Stephen Brookfield discusses what learners value in their teachers: credibility and authenticity. Being credible, means that the teacher demonstrates expertise and experience in their field. Brookfield uses colloquialisms to describe authenticity:
Brookfield’s quote explains how learners value an instructor. In addition to the above quote, Brookfield continues to use idioms. He adds, “practice what you preach,” and, “what you see is what you get” (2015, p. 49). In the preface of The Skillful Teacher, Brookfield explains that he writes as he would speak “to cut down the distance between reader and author” (2015, p. xiv). His intended audience are college teachers who “would want to read for sustenance, advice, and encouragement after a bad day in the classroom” (2015, p. xiv). Brookfield’s use of idioms is refreshing; his candid prose demonstrates relatable descriptions of what learners want from their instructors. I am going to ‘take (his style) for a spin’ in this reflection, and at the same time reflect on ‘walking the talk’. Brookfield did not include footnotes for his idioms, and I am not going to ‘bother’ with academic references for colloquialisms either, except to say that I retrieved the footnote definitions from a variety of online sources which include Farlex Dictionary ofIdioms, Urban Dictionary, and Cambridge Dictionary.
Being authentic and credible is important to me as an instructor for two reasons: I need to be genuine (‘keep it real’) and authoritative (‘carry a lot of weight’). I have little classroom experience, so I am nervous in front of a class.
Being genuine means that I need to be honest with my learners as much as ‘humanly possible’. Learners need to see that I have the same struggles that they do. For example, in What the Best College Teachers Do, Professor Ken Bain explains that it is important for instructors to “discuss how they developed their interests, the major obstacles they have faced in mastering the subject, or some of their secrets for learning particular material” (2004, p. 18).
Being authoritative is knowing my topic with such familiarity, that I can convey it ‘off the top of my head’, instead of fumbling ‘in the dark’ when conveying unfamiliar material. In The Adult Learner – The Definitive Classic in Adult Education and Human Resource Development, Dr. Malcolm Knowles (et al.) writes that the number one characteristic of a skillful instructor is expertise. Empathy, enthusiasm and clarity follow (2015).
What this ‘boils down to’ is that learners will not value my instruction if I do not appear genuine or authoritative. Learners will see that I am not sincere in my approach to instruction, and they will know that my knowledge is not ‘from the horse’s mouth’. But, the ‘million-dollar question is’ how to I demonstrate authenticity and credibility?
Since 3260 my last course in the PIDP journey, I assume that this is my final reflection assignment. Throughout this program, I have referred to psychologist Carl Rogers. His book, Freedom to Learn – A View of What Education Might Become, and the first edition copy that I possess, was written in 1969. It has become MY HANDBOOK: my ‘go to’ read for sustenance and advice. Even though the book was published almost 50 years ago, Roger’s educational philosophies ‘hit home’ for me. Rogers discusses facilitation. He explains that a facilitator must “share himself with the group” (p. 165), and “regard himself as a flexible resource to be utilized by the group” (p. 165). Of course, in 2018 himselfbecomes themselves, but Roger’s message is ‘not lost’ on me. In my professional practice, the ways that I will demonstrate authenticity and credibility are:
– I will try to be vulnerable to my learners. They need to trust that I was once where they are. I didn’t always know what I know, and I will identify with their struggles to learn when I share my own personal struggles in that regard. In other words, I will try to ‘put myself in their shoes’, and try to recall what it felt like when I was entering my profession.
– As an aspiring instructor, I will continue to follow my classmates’ blogs so that I can benefit from their reflections.
– I am a practicing Certified Dental Assistant (CDA). I will continue to make myself an invaluable resource to my learners.
@ Please refer to my Resources page for works cited