Dimensions of Wellbeing: Finding Your Teaching Perspective

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Mental Health
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Dr. Sally Stewart, Ph.D., is an associate professor of Teaching at UBC Okanagan, School of Health and Exercise Sciences


For most of us, the busy teaching part of the academic year might be done and the summer brings some lightness to our work and spirit. We might be feeling a bit “burnt out” and ready for a break, but it’s also a wonderful time to refresh and remember why we have a passion for teaching and student learning. Getting back to our foundations is grounding and can inspire new ideas and excitement for the next teaching term.

Getting back to your foundation of teaching

I’m keen to introduce you to a useful tool to help identify and/or remind you of your main teaching perspective―or “your foundation of teaching.” The Teaching Perspectives Inventory (TPI) is a simple survey that takes your responses and rates them on these five teaching perspectives:

Transmission – effective teaching requires a substantial commitment to content or subject matter; requires mastery of the subject matter or content

Apprenticeship – effective teaching requires that learners perform authentic tasks within the zone of their development; requires highly skilled practitioners

Developmental – effective teaching must be planned and conducted from the learner’s point of view; understanding how the learners think and reason about the content

Nurturing – effective teaching assumes that long-term, hard, persistent effort to achieve comes from the heart and not the head; learners become motivated and productive when working on issues without fear of failure

Social Reform – objective of teaching is the collective rather than the individual; awaken students to values and ideologies embedded within their discipline; challenge the status quo

I encourage you to take this TPI to gain/refresh awareness of your strength and foundations in teaching.

Take the Teaching Perspectives Inventory

The survey is free and the website offers resources and help with interpreting and applying your results.

What’s your dominant teaching perspective?

Typically, we have one or two dominant perspectives. This information can validate the way you teach, support some of your practices and approaches, as well as fuel your initiative to try new teaching practices. Beliefs, intentions and actions incorporated into each of the perspectives help identify your teaching philosophy. When we make decisions that are congruent with our values, we feel and function better. This is the same idea with acting on your dominant teaching perspective. When you teach in line with your teaching perspective, it feels better, more comfortable and, yes, easier for you. And, it will be more impactful and effective!

Fuel for teaching from YOUR heart

Take time to reflect on some of your teaching experiences. Do you notice those that worked well and those that may not have? Might it have something to do with being in line, or not, with your teaching perspective? As we work on refreshing and renewing our courses and teaching practices for the next term, think about trying some new techniques. Use this fuel of new knowledge of your teaching perspective to inspire you.

Please don’t shy away from teaching from the other perspectives though. They all can be effective, appropriate, and applied for different learning objectives, outcomes, course content, learners, and formats. You may be challenged by using one of your less strong perspectives. However, even awareness of this can help you intentionally work towards providing an effective lesson for your students. Teaching “well” from our foundation helps us feel “well,” and that is always renewing.


To learn more about the value and benefits of the Teaching Perspectives Inventory (TPI) survey, what it means to you and how to use it to fuel your own renewal as an educator, join “Foundations for Renewal,” the first live discussion forum in our Summer Wellness Series.