“I Think They Can Teach Each Other More Than I Can”: Teacher Learning and Visioning in Support of Student Agency
Meston, Heather M.
Instruction that centers and develops students’ agency supports academic and social-emotional success, yet educators increasingly teach in settings that restrict their opportunities to design such instruction. Agency-supportive instruction can support equity both within the classroom and within the larger society, where too often systems of oppression serve to prepare racially-, linguistically-, socioeconomically-, and ability- minoritized individuals to accept ‘less’: Less opportunity to access enriching and dynamic educational experiences, less opportunity to use passions, skills, and interests to serve educational and career goals, and less opportunity to be considered as valuable members of the classroom community able to impact the learning of others. Clearly defined visions of student agency may bolster teachers’ capacity to enact agency-supportive instruction in the face of numerous constraints, but no study has yet examined the aspirational visions that teachers hold about the specific topic of student agency, despite the many benefits of enacting agency-supportive instruction. Given this gap in the literature, this three-manuscript dissertation focuses on educators’ conceptions and visions of student agency. This work focuses on the ways in which these conceptions and visions are defined, reimagined, refined, and foreclosed both in individual reflection and in dialogue with peers, students, and context.