Monthly Archives: February 2017

The Skillful Teacher by Stephen D. Brookfield-Chapter 8

Chapter 8 – Getting Students to Participate

I think anyone who has been in a classroom, can attest that they have seen a class unfold where an instructor has failed to create a discussion. Multiple questions are asked where he or she is left with blank stares and no volunteers to participate.

Why is it so difficult, even though you know the topic is interesting and that students have something to say but are afraid to say it?

Brookfield’s listed reasons are listed below:

  • Crippling Personal Information
  • Fear of Looking Stupid
  • Feeling Unprepared
  • We Don’t Trust You
  • We’re Not Welcome Here
  • We’ve Been Burned
  • Talking Isn’t Cool
  • The Teacher’s Doing All The Talking
  • Talking Isn’t Rewarded

I am sure anybody can look at this list and say “yes”, I did not put up my hand even though I wanted to, because of one or more of the reasons listed above.

I, myself, have had situations where I did not participate because of one of these reasons and most of those situations were in high school. Mainly for the reasons of ‘fear of looking stupid’ as well as ‘talking isn’t cool’. A lot of that stems from insecurities of being judged by my peers.

Within the last 2 years, I’ve had a chance to go back to school due to a decision to change careers. I felt much different being in a classroom setting this time around than in high school, roughly 20 years ago. I felt I had to actively participate and question everything that was being taught to succeed. I was one of the oldest students in the class and I knew I was being judged by my younger peers. I did not care and felt that I needed to do well in the class in order to have this career change succeed. I am sure because my reasons for taking the course was so important to me and my family’s livelihood that I can overlook the typical reasons not to participate. ‘Looking cool’ did not matter to me in that setting. Looking stupid was not an issue because I knew if my opinion of the subject was incorrect that a discussion or a correction from my instructor would lead me to understand the content better, hence learning from your mistakes.

I guess there are many factors that can help promote participation in class. From my experiences, maturity and relevance for personal advancement plays a big part to participate. I also believe interest in the subject helps as well. As for not participating, a large part is due to insecurity, which most of the reasons above touch upon. As the instructor, if you can ease that sense of insecurity and create a safe environment for which the student can trust you and not feel stupid, even though they are incorrect on the subject, than I believe you would have more students participating.




Forks in the Road

It’s funny how life changes. Certain things happen very slowly, and then there are times where it’s going so fast you don’t know what happend. These last 3 years have been a blur to me. I started the PIDP as a full-time working chef. I felt that being an instructor would be a good career choice as well as still be part of the culinary industry, without the long hours.

Things didn’t really pan out the way I thought it would. About a year after enrolling in the program, I decided to leave the culinary industry altogether and to go to school at VCC, where I took the Administrative Assistant program. It was an 8-month program and when I finished,  I was fortunate enough to find a good job right away.

I’ve been at my Admin job for a year now and like it very much. I am still looking to finish the PIDP because I’m so close to finishing and felt that I may still want to pursue a teaching career. Be it as a chef instructor or teaching in an administrative role, I am open to the options that can be created by completing this diploma program.

To be honest, I do not know what’s in store for me 5 years down the road. I feel my current job has a lot potential for growth and I can hone my craft as an administrative professional. I also don’t want to discount the fact that I have 18 years of experience of being a professional chef.

There are associations I could join to be more involved in each respective field. As a chef, I can join the Chef’s Association – BC Chapter. They do many events such as food shows, competitions, as well as volunteering to cook and feed the needy. I think being involved that way can help me build a strong case for passion within the culinary field. As an administrative professional, I could join the IAAP (International Association of Administrative Professionals). Like the Chef’s Association, the IAAP holds many events, as well as conferences to network and develop within the field. If I wanted to have more of a credential, there is a designation sponsored by the IAAP called the CAP (Certified Administrative Professional) where there is a prerequisite, preparation for, and the completion of an extensive exam. This designation would be useful to show I am a serious about being an administrative professional.

The most important thing for me at the moment is to finish the PIDP. I think I will have a great sense of accomplishment having finished the program, and I also believe that it may be useful in the future. You never know when you’ll come across that next fork in the road, so it’s better to be prepared.



PIDP 3260 Professional Practice Journal Entry 1


The quote I chose to write about is “…teaching is frequently a gloriously messy pursuit in which shock, contradiction and risk are endemic.”(Brookfield, 2006, page 1). I chose this quote because I found it interesting and lighthearted how the author uses irony to describe teaching. In most cases glorious has little relation to messiness and in this case the word frequent was included as well. That makes it all the more interesting to me.


When describing the experiences of teaching, Brookfield uses the words shock, contradiction and risk. Does he use these terms to reference how the instructor feels when teaching? Is it referenced for the students? Or both?

As a student, I have felt shock when the subject taught is overwhelming. I can only assume that an instructor can run into shock when an unanticipated result comes from a lesson. “When a racially motivated fistfight broke out on my second day of teaching, all I could do was try to muddle through.” (Brookfield, 2006, page 2).

The other word that caught my attention in the quote was risk. What are the risks in teaching? Lesson plans itself can be a risky. You can come up with what could be a brilliant plan, but would it work for every class? Would every class be engaged because of its design? “…I had prepared a series of dazzlingly provocative questions for classroom discussion that I felt were bound to generate heated, rich, and informed conversation amongst students. I asked the first question and was met with blank stares and total silence.” (Brookfield, 2006, page 4). Risk could also involve the students. Those blank stares in the last cited passage could represent student’s reluctance to participate. This may be due to the insecurity of how their answers would be judged. This is also a risk.


When analyzing this quote and going through the first chapter, the underlying theme I feel Brookfield has established is that teaching in unpredictable. Not all classes are going to be the same. There will be times where things are going to happen that you won’t be able to foresee. For an instructor to succeed you are going to have to be adaptable. For lessons to be effective lesson plans may need to be altered. Different approaches may need to be used to teach the same subject to different classes

Here is a link to a site about Differentiated Instruction. It gives examples of different approaches one can take to alter their lesson.


As I said earlier, I liked how this quote had a lighthearted feel to it. You can tell Brookfield is passionate about this subject and I can find inspiration in this quote. It makes me believe that when and if I have a classroom of my own that I won’t take it for granted. I understand that the personalities in each classroom will be different and it is up to me to cater the lesson plans to the type of students I am teaching. Having the notion that you can teach a subject exactly the same way to multiple classes would not be acceptable. “…, being aware that we regularly face inherently irresolvable dilemmas in our teaching, and that we hurt from these, is an important indicator that we are critically alert. Teachers who say that no such dilemma exist in their lives are, in my view, either exhibiting denial on a massive scale or getting through the school day on automatic pilot.” (Brookfield, 2006, page 9)


The Skillful Teacher on Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom second edition
by Stephen D. Brookfield, 2006, pages 1, 2, 4, and 9

Differentiated Instruction by TEAL Center staff – Adapted from two NCSALL Focus on the Basics articles, Vol. 7, Issue C, and Vol. 8, Issue D.

The Skillful Teacher by Stephen D. Brookfield-Chapter 2

Chapter 2 – The Core Assumptions of Skillful Teaching

The 3 core assumptions  in chapter 2 are:

  • Skillful teaching is whatever helps students learn
  • Skillful teaching adopt a critically reflective stance towards their practice
  • The most important knowledge skillful teachings need to do good work is a constant awareness of how students are experiencing their learning and perceiving teachers’ actions

After reading the chapter and reflecting on these assumptions, it definitely makes sense. The first assumption is very broad and encompasses both the instructor and the learner. Do whatever it takes so that the learner the learner can learn. Be open to do anything that can make your lesson effective. There was a point made where an instructor usually feels most helpful when being suggestive and assisting right away. Brookfield makes a point in arguing that. “…the best teaching behaviour is sometimes to leave the student alone and not to intervene.” (Brookfield, 2006, page 26) I liked that point because whatever it takes can come in many forms and there’s insight to the other side of a perspective that is very common in teaching, which is being readily available because you think you will be helpful.

The second assumption deals with self assessment. I think it is important to constantly evaluate how you are teaching. With most things done repeatedly, like teaching a particular subject or class, once you get comfortable with a certain way of doing something you people tend to become complacent. I feel the point here is to strive to improve your practice. Constantly evaluate and re-evaluate what can be done better in your style of instruction. Technology can play a big role in this assumption because of the rapid rate in progression. Keeping up with learning tools is one example of finding ways to improve.

The third assumption deals with accessing your students. I feel this is the most important assumption. This is because the focus here is on the learner. “We may exhibit an admirable command of content, and possess a dazzling variety of pedagogic skills, but without knowing what’s going on in our students’ heads that knowledge may be presented and that skill exercised in a vacuum of misunderstanding.” (Brookfield, 2006, page 28). Basically, it doesn’t matter how good of an instructor you are or how much useful information you have to offer, if you are unaware of how your students are perceiving your lesson, it could all be lost in translation.


Brookfield, S. (2006). The skillful teacher (2nd ed.). S.l.: Jossey-Bass. Pages 26 and 28


The New Age of Teaching: Philip Altman

Below is a video from the Tedx program, which are self organized conferences. I found this speaker, Philip Altman, very interesting and I felt his topic was on a subject that is very relevant. His presentation talks about technology having negative effects on learning and even relates between 2 eras: One being in the present day and the other being in the time of Socrates and Plato. I found his argument compelling because I agree that the advanced technology in today’s world can isolate individuals who have access to vast libraries of information without interacting with a single soul.

In terms of teaching, I think the point he is trying to make is to keep the dialogue open. You can embrace technology but don’t forget about your peers. The power of collaboration can be quite substantial. As an inspiring instructor, this video teaches me that having that open dialogue with your students can help you understand their mindset, their level of understanding, and how engaged they are about your lesson. That information can be crucial in developing future lessons. This point is also part of Chapter 2 of the Skillful Teacher, where I will dive further in a future post.

The Skillful Teacher by Stephen D. Brookfield-Chapter 1

Chapter 1 – Experiencing Teaching

This book was assigned for our class in PIDP 3260. The main theme Brookfield touches upon is how teaching is unpredictable. He talks about experiences in teaching where you have to muddle through and even compares teaching to white water rafting.

I think the point he wants to make is that effective teaching is not repeatedly using the same lesson plans for multiple classes on the same subject . The personalities that make up the multiple classes an instructor teaches will be different. You must be adaptable as an instructor. There are different approaches that can be taken to teach the same concept.

I found a website that talks about using a variety of approaches. I have provided the link below.

Differentiated Instruction



Teaching Perspective Inventory

For the PIDP 3260 course -Professional Practice, it was suggested to take the TPI and comment about it. It’s like a survey to measure your orientation of teaching within  5 different perspectives:  Transmission, Apprenticeship, Development, Nurturing, and Social Reform.

I found it interesting because I felt it was pretty accurate on my perspectives if I was an instructor. Since I am currently not an instructor I took the inventory with the mindset of my background in the culinary arts. Since most learning in cooking comes the structure of apprenticeship, it wasn’t surprising that that perspective ranked high for me at 36. Transmission was a pretty high as well at 31. I feel this is because cooking at the basic level is quite rigid. Foundations need to be set before one can manipulate certain techniques and start using their creativity. What really opened my eyes was the perspective that scored the highest which was Nurturing at 37. Having cooked for 18 years, I have had many opportunities to mentor young cooks at different restaurants. My experience has shown me that being able to reach a learner at the emotional level has a huge impact on their learning and that has always been my approach. To be able to create a concept of the learning where you show value in the learning. I am glad I took the inventory because I felt it really captured my perspective accurately.

If you are interested, you can click on the attached link here – TPI

Why not give it a go? It’s free!