Communication & Cooperation

Taking the Teaching Perspective

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?

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, to write on it what they tried, where they are frustrated, and just turn it in. Because if they can’t do it, it’s because I didn’t teach it well enough, and I need to teach it better.”

Photo: GettyImages

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?

Taking the Teaching Perspective

In situations of conflict and unmet expectations, I always think of professional development, teaching, training.

  • 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, often the attitude is that the student should “come and get it” and it’s their responsibility whether they are successful or not. Yet, one could take the teaching perspective. One could try to understand where the other person is coming from. One could 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.

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