Photo: Gettyimages
Photo: Gettyimages

Taking the Teaching Perspective

Have you ever been really frustrated because someone didn’t do something the way you wanted them to?

Communication & Cooperation June 4, 2018

Have you ever been really frustrated because someone didn’t do something the way you wanted them to? Have you ever seen someone else really frustrated because they aren’t getting the results they want? Have you ever been frustrated that your students weren’t responding the way you wanted?

These situations happen all the time:

  • An administrator is frustrated that a faculty member isn’t accomplishing assessment tasks as desired.
  • A teacher is frustrated that students aren’t making the desired progress.
  • A committee leader is frustrated that the members aren’t doing their part.

Who’s to blame in these situations? Is it the student or teacher? Leader or follower? Or both parties?

Recently, a fellow faculty member commented, “I tell my students to only spend an hour on this assignment. If they don’t have it done in an hour, I ask them to write on it what they tried, where they are frustrated, and just turn it in. If they can’t do it, it’s because I didn’t teach it well enough, and I need to teach it better.”

Taking the Teaching Perspective

In situations of conflict and unmet expectations, I always think of professional development, teaching, training. The teaching perspective encourages us to ask what elements may be missing:

  • Were the necessary resources provided?
  • Was the task or expectation scaffolded?
  • Is the underlying concept clear?
  • Are any steps missing or unclear in the instructions or expectations?
  • In online environments, were the needed resources and instructions where the student was expected to use them? For example, were instructions near the spot where they turn in the work?

In higher education, the attitude is often that the student should “come and get it” and that it’s their responsibility whether they are successful or not. Instead of assuming that students are equipped to succeed, we as teachers should take the teaching perspective. We should try to understand where the other person is coming from. We should try to consider the novice perspective vs. the expert perspective.

Your Turn

  • What do you think? Is there a limit to this concept?
  • What does it take for someone to be able to see another’s perspective?
  • Should the teacher/leader take all the responsibility for failure? Where does this break down?
  • Is it useful to consider the teaching perspective in a conflict?

Article adapted with permission from the original blog format.

Article written and posted in English.


Janine Lim, PhD, serves Andrews University, USA, as Associate Dean for Online Higher Education, where her department supports faculty teaching on-campus and online. Learn more from her 20+ years of experience in distance education and instructional technology spanning the educational experience from elementary through lifelong learning. Visit Twitter ( or her blog (

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