Core Assumptions of Skillful Teaching

Just finished reading Chapter 2: The Core Assumptions of Skillful Teaching from The Skilful Teacher on techniques, trust and responsiveness in the classroom by Stephen D. Brookfield

Brookfield gives us his 4 core assumptions of skillful teaching:

1.“Skillful Teaching is Whatever Helps a Student Learn”

  1. “Skillful Teachers Adopt a Critically Reflective Stance Towards Their Practice”
  2. “Teachers Need a Constant Awareness of How Students Are Experiencing Their Learning and Perceiving Teachers’ Actions”
  3. “College Students of Any Age Should Be Treated as Adults”

(Brookfield, 2015)

Brookfield has been teaching since 1970 and he speaks about ‘growing into his truth’ about himself as a teacher. “I will always feel like an imposter and will never lose the sense of amazement I feel when people treat me as if I have something valuable to offer”(Brookfield, 2015, p.9). What a great quote!

Brookfield writes as a mentor and guide. He speaks about intuition, confidence and a willingness to trust the process. Chapter 2 is an honest, frank account of the classroom experience and what it takes to be an effective teacher. Brookfield talks about what it means to meet the needs of students in classrooms full of diversity. Every classroom will be different and it is the skillful teacher that recognizes this and is responsive to what comes up.

At the core of skillful teaching is the teacher who is aware of their assumptions and the role they play in decisions and actions, practices critical self-reflection, collects ongoing formal feedback from students, and develops respectful relationships.

The most important take away from this chapter for me is the importance of continuing to be aware of and dissect my assumptions and actively engage in critically reflection and journal about it.


Brookfield, S. D. (2015). The skillful teacher: On technique, trust, and responsiveness in the classroom. Hoboken, NJ, United States: John Wiley & Sons.



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