Journeys Through Teaching

Journeys Through Teaching

Developing Agency: Supporting Teachers to Learn Continuously

This year a big focus for me as a PYP Coordinator is thinking about ways to increase agency in our school.  With the Enhanced PYP comes a bold move from the IB to put agency and the centre of the way in which we consider learning.  This is leading to some great reflections, ideas and actions regarding student agency which I’ll write about another time.  Today though I want to write a little about teacher agency.  As I think about teacher agency a lot of questions come to mind:

  • What do different stakeholders think teacher agency looks like?
  • How can we authentically increase teacher agency in our schools?
  • Does this look the same across a continuum school?
  • What actions need to be taken from an organisational/individual perspective?
  • How might I support my teachers to develop their own sense of agency?
  • Can you/should you ‘make’ a teacher develop agency? Or, what is the role and influence of teacher buy-in?
  • What opportunities are there for collective/individual actions?
  • How do we/can we model teacher agency to students? What role might this play in supporting student agency?

As I think through these questions (which invariably have complex/multifaceted answers) I’m beginning to think of actions I can take in my role that will be supportive of teachers but not simply adding ‘extra work’ to their pile.

One area I chose to think about was CPD or Continuous Professional Development.  Our school places a strong emphasis on teacher development opportunities with differing degrees of success and impact.

Although there are some things we simply have to cover as a whole staff, one area I’m working on is offering more choice for teachers when it comes to CPD options.  Here are a couple ways I’m trying to implement this:

– Offering teacher-led workshops: this puts teachers in control of what they are supporting each other with and how they share learning.  It also means we have more people leading learning which allows us to break into smaller groups, and offer everyone more choice

– Using teacher-leaders to facilitate discussion groups

– A CPD challenge, in which staff have a wide range of options for mini-CPD to try out on their own.  There are a lot of options available, each learning opportunity is relatively short, and teachers choose when to do each one.  The idea is to put teachers firmly in change of their own learning, whilst also providing suggestions on where to focus.


This is still very much a work in progress and I’m trying to learn more as I grow; to learn more and think more about ways to increase teacher agency in the way we learn as professionals, yet balance this against the need for some direction.

As we complete some of these new options (staff led workshops and the challenge especially) I’ll be seeking feedback from teachers at my school to see how this shapes my learning too!

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Emma Wheatley
Emma Wheatley


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