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Article
Publication date: 19 July 2019

Amber Jensen

This paper aims to recommend that English educators engage preservice teachers (PSTs) in thinking and acting agentively in twenty-first century writing instruction by…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to recommend that English educators engage preservice teachers (PSTs) in thinking and acting agentively in twenty-first century writing instruction by prompting them to examine and (re)construct discourses around identity, beliefs and teaching contexts. It explores metacognitive interventions that supported one PST to assume agency to implement twenty-first century writing pedagogies that challenged institutional and curricular norms.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study design was used to explore how one PST enacted agency in teaching twenty-first century writing during student teaching. Data were collected from five stimulated recall interviews that prompted metacognition over a four-month internship semester. Emerging themes were analyzed using content analysis.

Findings

During interviews, the PST constructed narratives about herself, her beliefs and her teaching context in ways that catalyzed her agency to enact twenty-first century writing pedagogies in planning for instruction, framing learning with her students and negotiating with her colleagues. The PST perceived metacognitive intervention as a supportive framework for activating her agency to both “see” and “sell” (Nowacek, 2011) possibilities for implementing twenty-first century writing instruction in her first teaching context.

Originality/value

While most existing literature on teacher agency focuses on practicing teachers, this paper focuses on activating agency during teacher preparation. It draws upon theories of regulative discourse (Mills, 2015), transfer (Nowacek, 2011) and metacognition as constructs for agency to identify how English educators can prepare PSTs as agents for change.

Details

English Teaching: Practice & Critique, vol. 18 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1175-8708

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 29 July 2019

Jill Willis, Kelli McGraw and Linda Graham

A new senior curriculum and assessment policy in Queensland, Australia, is changing the conditions for teaching and learning. The purpose of this study was to consider the…

Abstract

Purpose

A new senior curriculum and assessment policy in Queensland, Australia, is changing the conditions for teaching and learning. The purpose of this study was to consider the personal, structural and cultural conditions that mediated the agency of Senior English teachers as they negotiated these changes. Agency is conceptualised as opportunities for choice in action arising from pedagogic negotiations with students within contexts where teachers’ decision-making is circumscribed by other pressures.

Design/methodology/approach

An action inquiry project was conducted with English teachers and students in two secondary schools as they began to adjust their practices in readiness for changes to Queensland senior assessment. Four English teachers (two per school) designed a 10-week unit of work in Senior English with the aim of enhancing students’ critical and creative agency. Five action/reflection cycles occurred over six months with interviews conducted at each stage to trace how teachers were making decisions to prioritise student agency.

Findings

Participating teachers drew on a variety of structural, personal and cultural resources, including previous experiences, time to develop shared understandings and the responsiveness of students that mediated their teacher agency. Teachers’ ability to exert agentic influence beyond their own classroom was affected by the perceived flexibility of established resources and the availability of social support to share student success.

Originality/value

These findings indicate that a range of conditions affected the development of teacher agency when they sought to design assessment to prioritise student agency. The variety of enabling conditions that need to be considered when supporting teacher and student agency is an important contribution to theories of agency in schools, and studies of teacher policy enactment in systems moving away from localised control to more remote and centralised quality assurance processes.

Details

English Teaching: Practice & Critique, vol. 18 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1175-8708

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 26 September 2018

Andrew Wild, Jodie Galosy, Melissa Kagle, Nicole Gillespie and Jeff Rozelle

The purpose of this paper is to describe how a group of International Baccalaureate (IB) Physics teachers exercise collective agency by initiating and facilitating their…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe how a group of International Baccalaureate (IB) Physics teachers exercise collective agency by initiating and facilitating their own collaboration using online tools across time zones and school contexts. The paper seeks to inform teacher communities, school leaders, policy and the growing body of literature about teacher agency.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper uses qualitative case study approach. Data were gathered from individual interviews, classroom observations and the group’s meeting agendas, notes and reflections.

Findings

Central to the group’s work is a norm of teaching “lock-step,” meaning they teach approximately the same lesson at approximately the same time. The norm enabled them to exercise collective agency over the curriculum and professional learning by establishing conditions for sharing knowledge and experiences and fostering accountability while still allowing for some individual adaptation.

Practical implications

An implication for teacher communities is that the norm of lock-step may be of benefit for improving curriculum (or other educational reforms) when the intention of the norm is to advance the collective (vs marching at the same pace). The study underscores the value of school leaders providing opportunities for teacher choice and voice in the design and facilitation of their learning communities.

Originality/value

The case of the IB Physics group contrasts decades of research showing that teachers cling to their autonomy. Group members were willing to give up a good deal of their individual autonomy for the benefits they derived from their collaboration.

Details

Journal of Professional Capital and Community, vol. 3 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2056-9548

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 2 September 2019

James S. Chisholm, Jennifer Alford, Leah M. Halliday and Fannie M. Cox

This paper aims to examine ways in which English language arts (ELA) teachers have exercised agency in response to policy changes that have been shaped by neoliberal…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine ways in which English language arts (ELA) teachers have exercised agency in response to policy changes that have been shaped by neoliberal education agendas that seek to further advance standardization and the primacy of measurability of teaching and learning.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors posed the following research questions of related literature: Under what conditions, in what ways and to what ends do teachers exercise agency within ELA classroom teaching? Through five stages of systematized analysis, this scoping review of 21 studies maps the evidence base.

Findings

Structural, material, interpersonal and pedagogical issues both constrained and supported agency. Teachers covertly exercised agency to be responsive to students’ needs; in some instances, teachers’ agentive practices reinforced institutionally sanctioned methods. Teachers’ agentive action aimed to combat the deprofessionalization of the field, foster innovative curriculum approaches and challenge stereotypes about students. The authors also found a range of definitions of agency in the research, some of which are more generative than others.

Originality/value

This paper addresses a gap in the research literature by illuminating contexts, consequences and conundrums of ELA teacher agency. The authors documented the range of structural, cultural and material conditions within which teachers exercise agency; the subversive, collective and small- and large-scale ways in which teachers realize agency; and the potentially favorable or unfavorable consequences to which these efforts are directed. In doing so, the authors also problematize the range of definitions of agency in the literature and call for greater attention to conceptual clarity around agency in research. As literacy researchers illuminate work that disrupts the marginalization of teachersagency, this scoping review maps the field’s knowledge base of agency in ELA teaching and sets up a future research agenda to promote the professionalization of teaching and advocacy for English teachers.

Details

English Teaching: Practice & Critique, vol. 18 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1175-8708

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 29 March 2021

Eunice S. Han and Jeffrey Keefe

The research predicts which public school teachers are likely to resign their union membership since agency fees were found unconstitutional in Janus v. AFSCME. We compare…

Abstract

The research predicts which public school teachers are likely to resign their union membership since agency fees were found unconstitutional in Janus v. AFSCME. We compare teachers in right-to-work states with comprehensive collective bargaining laws with teachers in former agency shop states, using unique district-teacher matched data constructed from the School and Staffing Survey. We find that teachers who are male, Hispanic, part-time, with alternative certification, work either in charter schools or in schools with more students qualifying for free lunches are more likely to become nonunion. Teachers who are black, work under a collective bargaining, have post-graduate degrees, are more experienced, work in larger schools or in areas with a higher cost of living, perceive more school problems or a poor school climate, work in an elementary school, or teach special education are more likely to remain union members now that agency shop provisions are unenforceable.

Details

Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83982-132-5

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 29 August 2019

Andrew Cecil Goodwyn

This paper aims to introduce the concept of adaptive agency and illustrate its emergence in the field of English teaching in a number of countries using England over the…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to introduce the concept of adaptive agency and illustrate its emergence in the field of English teaching in a number of countries using England over the past 30 years as a case study. It examines how the exceptional flexibility of English as school subject has brought many external impositions whilst its teachers have evolved remarkable adaptivity.

Design/methodology/approach

It proposes several models of agency and their different modes, focussing finally on adaptive agency as a model that has emerged over a 30-year period. It considers aspects of this development across a number of countries, mostly English speaking ones, but its chief case is that of England. It is principally a theoretical paper drawing on Phenomenology, Critical Realism and later modernist interpretations of Darwinian Theory, but it is grounded by drawing on two recent empirical projects to illustrate English teachers’ current agency. It offers a fresh overview of how agency and accountability have interacted within a matrix of official policy and constraint.

Findings

Adaptive agency has become a necessary aspect of teacher expertise. Such a mode of working creates great emotional strains and tensions, leading to many teachers leaving the profession. However, many English teachers whilst feeling controlled in the matrix of power and the panopticon of surveillance, remain resilient and positive about the future of the subject.

Research limitations/implications

This is to some extent a personal and reflexive account of a lived history, supported by research and other evidence.

Practical implications

Adaptive agency enables teachers to conceptualise the frustrations of the role but to celebrate how they expertly use their agency where they can. It makes their work and struggle more comprehensible. In providing the concept of harmonious practice, it offers the hope of a return to more satisfying professional lives.

Originality/value

This paper offers an original concept, adaptive agency, and discusses other valuable conceptualisations of agency and accountability. It combines a unique individual perspective with a fresh overview of the past three decades as experienced by English teachers in England.

Details

English Teaching: Practice & Critique, vol. 18 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1175-8708

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 12 July 2019

Laura A. Taylor

By recognizing high-stakes testing as a key constraint to teacher agency, this paper aims to provide a close analysis of one teacher’s testing narrative to illustrate how…

Abstract

Purpose

By recognizing high-stakes testing as a key constraint to teacher agency, this paper aims to provide a close analysis of one teacher’s testing narrative to illustrate how emerging positioning is relative to high-stakes testing shapes perception of pedagogical agency.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were generated through a series of semi-structured interviews with an early career fourth-grade teacher, Ms Moore, in a school facing pressure to raise test scores. Using theoretical lenses of narrative positioning and a linguistic anthropological centering of constraint and emergence, 67 narratives of accountability were analyzed, with particular focus on how Ms Moore positioned herself relative to other actors involved in high-stakes testing and the consequent rights and duties these positions afforded.

Findings

In narrating the constraints of high-stakes testing, Ms Moore positioned herself relative to three groups involved in high-stakes testing: “purposefully tricky” test creators, “disjointed” administrators and “worried” students. The rights and duties associated with three positions varied with respect to two dimensions – proximity and hierarchy – in turn providing her distinct resources for responding to the pedagogical constraints of high-stakes testing.

Practical implications

Teachers might use positioning analysis as a tool to locate possibilities for agency amidst high-stakes testing, both by exploring the resources afforded by their positioning and by considering how alternative positions might afford different resources.

Originality/value

These findings suggest that high-stakes testing serves as a dynamic and perhaps malleable constraint to teacher agency. Teacher positioning, particularly relative to hierarchy and proximity, provides possible resource for responding to such constraints.

Details

English Teaching: Practice & Critique, vol. 18 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1175-8708

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 16 August 2019

Lauren Godfrey and Carol Booth Olson

The purpose of this study is to explore how, through the cultivation of reform ownership in the professional development (PD) program, the Pathway Project, agency was…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to explore how, through the cultivation of reform ownership in the professional development (PD) program, the Pathway Project, agency was achieved for the development of teacher professionalism and teacher expertise in the cases of Mrs. Cruz and Mrs. Keyes. This, in turn, provided opportunities to advance student learning.

Design/methodology/approach

Multiple sources of data (focused classroom observations, semi-structured interviews and collected artifacts) were analyzed through a case study approach to understand the processes by which an agentic context materialized for these two teachers.

Findings

The authors identified the following three stages in the cultivation of reform ownership in the cases of Mrs. Cruz and Mrs. Keyes: emerging; developing; and deepening. Each of these stages proved critical to the achievement of agency for the development of teacher professionalism, teacher expertise and student learning.

Originality/value

The cases of Mrs. Cruz and Mrs. Keyes offer a renewed vision of the ways in which teachers can achieve agency in the current reform environment. Given the proliferation of reform efforts within today’s educational landscape, their cases suggest that PD developers take seriously the responsibility of cultivating reform ownership for the achievement of agency and deep and lasting change.

Details

English Teaching: Practice & Critique, vol. 18 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1175-8708

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 7 May 2019

Anne Cloonan, Kirsten Hutchison and Louise Paatsch

In response to threats to teacher autonomy and creativity by measurements of teacher quality through student performance on high-stakes test scores and standardised…

Abstract

Purpose

In response to threats to teacher autonomy and creativity by measurements of teacher quality through student performance on high-stakes test scores and standardised professional learning, this study aims to explore teacher collaborative research for opportunities for promotion of teacher agency.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors explore the following research question: How is agentic teacher research into English teaching that integrates information and communication technologies and creative and critical thinking enabled? Using ethnographic tools and an analytical lens influenced by ecological teacher agency, factors which enable teacher agency within teacher research are investigated.

Findings

Teachers’ experiences of, and insights into, collaborative research indicate the enabling of teacher agency through an interplay of personal and professional narratives and available cultural, structural and material resources. Intersections between teacher research and teaching for creativity and teacher agency are revealed.

Originality/value

Three separate fields of study including teacher agency, teacher research and teaching for creativity are brought together providing insight into how teacher research into teaching for creativity in literacy learning can enhance teacher collaboration, autonomy and agency.

Details

English Teaching: Practice & Critique, vol. 18 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1175-8708

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 8 October 2019

Adam Loretto

This paper aims to apply ecological models of agency to understand factors influencing how an eighth grade English language arts (ELA) teacher enacted agency in four…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to apply ecological models of agency to understand factors influencing how an eighth grade English language arts (ELA) teacher enacted agency in four moments in the classroom. It focuses on how his language in relation to his instructional choices reflected messaging to his students regarding the learning he intended from his ELA instruction.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper applies an existing framework (Biesta et al., 2015, 2017), adding Bakhtin (1981) understandings of language, to classroom discourse supplemented by teacher interviews and other data sources. In looking across these data sources, the paper traces the influence of past factors (i.e. the teacher’s personal and professional history) and future orientations (i.e. goals established in standards and the teacher’s goals for his students) on present instructional decisions. The teacher’s language in the classroom becomes a primary focus for this study, as it reveals the ways in which he drew on specific resources in the messages in his instruction.

Findings

In each moment, the teacher’s language could be shown to have motivation in a variety of factors. While influenced by external factors such as the common core standards and standardized assessments, the teacher often enacted agency out of his personal beliefs about making learning personally meaningful for students as grounded in his personal and professional history. Exceptions to this pattern, especially regarding preparing students for writing tests on state assessments, less frequently relied on the language of finding meaning in the learning.

Originality/value

This paper builds on studies of ELA teacher agency through the development of methodology related to an ecological model of agency and Bakhtinian concepts of language focused on the discourse of the classroom. It contributes to understanding the factors at study in an ELA teacher’s instructional agency, which can help teachers and researchers further develop frameworks for describing and assessing the practice of agency in the profession.

Details

English Teaching: Practice & Critique, vol. 18 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1175-8708

Keywords

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