Brookfield (2006, p. 265) “…No philosophy, theory or model can possibly capture or explain every single aspect of the idiosyncratic reality that is your own experience as a teacher.”
Brookfield (2006, p. 265) suggests that as teachers we are very much individuals, and we all have our own ‘idiosyncrasies’ and individual styles that cannot be classified into one particular category. Some of the reasons for this are due to varying degrees of past experiences that we have gained throughout our careers. There are many philosophies and theories that would persuade us to believe that there are only a few strategies or models that we as teachers can be moulded into however, not all one method can apply given the complexity of our own uniqueness as individuals and the various cultures, and complex needs of individual students. Brookfield (2006) has developed fifteen maxims or themes that can aid us to be successful as skillful teachers. Maxim four speaks to this idea of ‘Being wary of standardized models and approaches’ (p. 265).
I can relate to Brookfield’s (2006) comments on what it means to incorporate personal experiences within one’s teaching methods because, quite frankly as a new teacher, I do not have any other teaching experiences to rely on except my expertise in my own field of metal fabrication. Further, as I have mentioned in my previous reflections, I will also be able to count on, and incorporate into my teachings, my own ‘Maxims’ drawn from my current role as a leader/supervisor. I actually counted the approximate number of crew talks and presentations that I have conducted over a 15 year period as a supervisor, and it totals well over 2500 talks or some 2500 hours. These experiences have to count for something in relation to bringing my own style into the classroom. My hope is to find that of a mentor who can guide me with foundational approaches in lesson planning, structure, activities etc., but I also realize that I am going to have to just go through my own trials and tribulations until I can figure out what works best for me and my students.
As a future educator, what this means for me is that I will need to rely heavily on my own established leadership style and accrued experiences within my field of expertise. It makes sense to me that I would want to also rely on some of those proposed established teaching methods already in use. In reflecting on some of those classes or courses that I have taken in the past, there are educators, instructors, and practitioners that model or incorporate the same techniques, but with all differing personalities, styles and their own unique ‘idiosyncrasies’. In my opinion, this is what makes learning and teaching so beneficial, as there are differing attitudes and perspectives within each personality that helps us to connect on a personal level. I will need to be consistent in what I am messaging to my students, and at the same time utilizing different techniques to keep my students engaged in their learning. What individual idiosyncrasies can I draw strength from? What makes me different or more effective from other educators? What individual differences do I see in my students, and how am I going to adapt my methods to establish a connection with students? One answer for sure, is to just be myself and to be as genuine and humble as possible. In other words; be authentic in nature and as constructively honest when it comes to feedback with my students.
I can see now how it could become very monotonous for some students to become bored or disconnected if they had to show up to class every day to face the ‘same old teacher’; Yikes! I have experienced this as a student, and all it did was motivate me to get the course completed faster. This is not the most effective way to get an education.
In my future role as an educator, I will need to rely on my past personal experiences with managing and leading staff, and accrued experiences within my own field of expertise. I will need to establish my own style, methods, and techniques when lecturing, demonstrating, and providing feedback to my students.
What I have also realized is that once I have established myself as a teacher, and incorporated some of my own individual ‘idiosyncrasies’, I cannot and will not become complacent with a specific style or method of instruction. Effective techniques such as the ‘chunk and chew’, or facilitator rather than lecturer (sage on the stage), pair and share, will be incorporated into my teachings.
However, I will also have to be mindful that there are those students that depend on and flourish with ‘Mr. Roger’s’ idiosyncrasies and style of teaching, as there is consistency and authenticity that some students are accustomed to expect. This ultimately builds trust in the student/teacher relationship enabling students to take additional risks in their learning. Interestingly enough, it appears I have something in common with the great Albert Einstein who famously had many idiosyncratic habits, yet was a ‘regular joe’.
“Idiosyncratic means unique to an individual. Albert Einstein famously had lots of idiosyncratic habits. For example, he rarely wore socks, and he talked to his cat. One thing that Einstein definitely wasn’t was an idiot. Yet idiosyncratic and idiot are related. Idio is ancient Greek for “one’s own.” A idiosyncratic person is someone who does things in his own way. And the original meaning of idiot was basically “a regular Joe” — an ordinary person who keeps to himself.”
Brookfield, S. (2006). The skillful teacher; on technique, trust, and responsiveness in the classroom. Second Edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, pp. 265 – 266.
Vocabulary.com (n.d.). Idiosyncratic.Vocabulary.com Dictionary. Retrieved from