Teachers can and do make a critical difference in the schooling experiences of their students, especially for some of the most vulnerable ones. Research shows that teachers are the most powerful in-school factor that affects learning. However, their practices are highly context-dependent and intertwined with those of others, including students’ families, school colleagues and other professionals. Social and institutional settings can create opportunities as well as barriers to the ways in which teachers work with these other agents to make a real difference in their schools, and ultimately in the lives of their students.
Our programme of research around Teachers as Agents of Change analyses data about teachers’ beliefs and situated practices to explore the conditions that support teachers’ acting as agents of change in their schools. The research focuses on:
- Teachers’ beliefs about their professional roles and efficacy
- Teachers’ practices within and beyond classrooms
- Teachers’ relationships with others (e.g. students, families, colleagues)
- Teachers’ reflections on how their practices are shaped by work contexts
The research programme explores how these aspects of teacher agency influence each other and develop overtime in the different conditions afforded by the work contexts. For example, the same teacher with a sense of commitment to equality might act differently in different situations or in different school environments, depending on the levels of trust and support by the management, or availability of resources and communication with other relevant professionals.
More information about the concept of teacher agency for change and relevant research variables can be found in the paper: Pantić, N. (2015). A model for study of teacher agency for social justice Teachers and Teaching Theory and Practice, 21 (6), 759-778.