The Paradox Of Professional Teacher Agency And Accountability In Public Education: Using Autoethnography To Promote Reflexivity In Teachers And Raise Consciousness Of Agentic Beliefs And Values
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The current atmosphere of education perpetuates a tumultuous climate in which educators must construct their identity amidst competing philosophies of education, pedagogy, and schooling. Furthermore, their professional actions are seldom appreciated in context of teachers’ ability to act as agents of change undermining their significance and the importance of their beliefs and sense of agency (Priestley, et al. 2015). It has been suggested that “teacher agency... has the capacity to make the operation of the educational system, both at the systemic level and at the individual and collective level of teacher practice, more intelligent and, therefore, more able to engage with the complexities and the uniqueness of the here and now in meaningful and purposeful ways” (Priestley et al., 2015, p. 149). In exploring the topic of teacher agency, several important questions are posed: Where are the philosophical and pragmatic boundaries of teacher agency as we continue to examine the implications of agency on teachers’ professional identities? How does one “awaken” a teacher to the concept and constructs of agency in order to exercise their perceived agency in professional contexts? Which educational philosophies and practices generate a structure that promotes the importance of agency as an emergent and dialectical phenomenon? And how can accountability be understood and subsequently resolved as a structure of education which paradoxically affects teacher agency? An emergent theory of agency is suggested within a temporal construct that appreciates the phenomenological aspects of critical reflexivity. This construct invites qualitative inquiry into the subjective well-being associated with related concepts of self-constitution. This study identifies requisite agentic variables and helps to reconceptualize teacher agency within multiple fields and disciplines in order to establish an emergent phenomenological concept of agency generated by intrapersonal beliefs that can be used within the context of authoring authentic selves as teachers in professional contexts (chapter 2). The study will serve as an example of an agentic conversation, practiced through reflexivity, and realized autoethnographically, between myself as both student and teacher within educational structures of accountability (chapters 4-6). Ultimately, I promote other educators to practice similar reflexive/autoethnographic conversations between themselves and their unique professional and educational contexts. The process of “awakening” educators to their agentic realities through autoethnographic reflexivity holds perceivably limitless potential for teacher education, professional and personal development, and the broader concepts of school reform (Eteläpelto, Vähäsantanen, Hökkä, and Paloniemi, 2013; Hadar and Benish-Weisman, 2019; Lipponen and Kumpulainen, 201; Priestley, Biesta, Robinson, 2015a).