The Gifts And Handicaps We Bring to The Table

This article is the second reflective writing assignment in the course “Professional Practice” course PIDP 3260 I am taking at VCC.

The assignment is to write a reflection on the following quote from the book, The Skilful Teacher by Stephen D. Brookfield

“As teachers, we all bring different gifts, and handicaps to the table”

Stephen D. Brockfield


This quote is from chapter 8 of Brockfield’s book “The Skillful Teacher”. The chapter discusses the fact that we are working in diverse classrooms. In this case, diversity goes beyond differences in racial, educational or sociological background as Brockfield introduces the idea that we all have different ways of participating and learning. Along with our learners being a diverse group, we as teachers also bring our own talents and preferences into the classroom.


I was intrigued by this statement because we usually assume that we as teachers are mainly providers of information. We might strive to provide our students with different modes of instruction but we often forget that we too have a bias. I, for example, tend to overload my audience with information in my classes. Later I am surprised that my students didn’t learn as much as I thought they had.

I know that I have students with English as a second language, students struggling with ADHD, and students that struggle with external difficulties in their lives while taking classes. I also have to learn to see my preferences, talents and limitations.


The quote and the whole of chapter eight made me reflect on the differences we have that go beyond the challenges mentioned. I already strive to provide different ways of learning classroom material. I mix presentations with video and classroom discussions. Given what I learned from Brookfield’s chapter, I need to provide more for learners that learn differently from me.


In trades education, our students have chosen a career path that focuses on hands-on involvement. The reality of trades jobs is that they are a mix of honing skills to become more efficient and accurate in our work as we gain experience and also face situations where we have to adapt to circumstances that we didn’t expect. Examples of this second reality are material defects or changes in project schedules. We then need to research and find ways to deal with these challenges.

Combining the preferences of the students, the reality of the work we train them to grow into and my own experience as a tradesperson will guide me in the way I teach from now on.

In the classroom (online or in person) I will build in more junctures when my students need to find information or work in groups to find a solution to a problem. I will provide more opportunities for students to be creative in solving a problem.

In the shop, I will give my students more time to experiment and make mistakes. I tend to demonstrate too many steps at once. I will build in more practice tasks before applying learned skills to a larger project.

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As an example, many of my students in the construction section of our course struggle with nailing their wall frames together. Usually, through trial and error and my correction, most get a lot better by the end of the day. In the future, I will add a nailing practice before we start on the project. I will provide practice wood and after my demonstration, I will divide the class into groups so that each student can practice the technique and observe others. After this section, we will gather and collect what the students learned from each other.

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