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Title:The power of teachers: exploring identity, agency, and collaboration in the context of literacy
Author(s):Kang, Grace
Director of Research:McCarthey, Sarah J.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):McCarthey, Sarah J.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Johnston-Parsons, Marilyn A.; Moller, Karla J.; Pak, Yoon
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Curriculum and Instruction
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
teacher agency
teacher identity
teacher practice
professional development
Teacher education
Abstract:This is a time when teachers are not treated as professionals and often are blamed for the state of today’s public education system. Although, there are deep complexities (i.e., race, class, language, funding) that contribute to the inequities in schools, blaming teachers cannot be the answer to such a complicated problem. Interestingly, more than ever, teachers are faced with numerous top-down pressures, mandates, and “teacher-proof” curricula. This dissertation investigates teachers’ values, beliefs, and ideologies through observations of their various forms of collaboration and classroom instruction, as well as interviews with the participants to understand their past and present experiences. This project explores teachers’ backgrounds, experiences, and ways in which they have been prepared to teach. In a 6-month qualitative study of a focal teacher, his colleagues, and his classroom I highlight the complexities of teaching and how teachers negotiate their understandings with one another in spaces that take place during and beyond the school day in an era of high-stakes testing. Moreover, because the aim of the study is to unpack the complexities of teachers’ perspectives, values, and beliefs within literacy, in the current political backdrop the main research questions that guided this study are: What is the nature of collaborative practices in the school building surrounding literacy? What is the nature of teachers’ agency over the literacy curriculum? How does participation in collaborative practices relate to literacy instruction? Data for this study comes from the perspectives of three 4th grade teachers as they met during grade level collaboration sessions and multiple interviews, as well as the classroom literacy instruction and practice of the focal teacher. In addition, this study presents the focal teacher’s interactions with his students and furthermore illustrates teachers’ negotiations of identity and agency in a high-stakes era. In sum, this project attends to the perspectives of those who are in the field day in and day out, fully aware of their students’ needs, and are often discredited. This study clarifies issues related to teacher education, professional development, and teacher practice.
Issue Date:2015-02-18
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Grace Kang
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-07-22
Date Deposited:May 2015

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