Teacher agency: What is it and why does it matter?

Mark Priestley*, Gert Biesta, Sarah Robinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter, Mark Biesta and Gert Robinson outline the conception of agency, developing a conceptual model for teacher agency that emphasises the temporal and relational dimension of the achievement of agency. The authors illustrate how a detailed understanding of teacher agency and the conditions under which it is achieved offer considerable potential in enabling teachers to engage with curricular policy in more meaningful ways. They offer an alternative view of teacher agency, developing an ecological conceptualisation of agency that emphasises the importance of both agentic capacity and agentic spaces in shaping agency, and moreover views the achievement of agency as a temporal process. Professional experience out with education is another significant and interesting pointer to the sorts of agency achieved by teachers. The practical-evaluative dimension forms a major influence on agency, powerfully shaping decision making and action, both offering possibilities for agency and inhibiting it.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFlip the System
Subtitle of host publicationChanging Education from the Ground Up
PublisherTaylor and Francis Inc.
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781317391586
ISBN (Print)9781138929968
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2015


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