Teaching in the COVID-19 era: Understanding the opportunities and barriers for teacher agency
The school closures necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic created a rapid shift to alternative modes of educational delivery, primarily online learning and teacher-supported home-schooling. This shift has revealed deep inequities in education systems worldwide, as many children lost access to teachers and schooling. An effective response to these changes has tested teachers’ personal capacities and individual and collective agency intensely. The research lab we report on within this paper aimed to develop a better understanding of teacher agency in meeting the challenges of the pandemic and the physical and relational enablers and constraints of their environment. Drawing on case study reports from six international contexts and a series of online discussions with research lab participants, this study explores teachers’ enactment of agency in the context of various circumstances and environments. The authors argue that it is imperative that education systems support the enhancement of teachers’ personal and collective agency in the face of continued disruption to schooling and ongoing challenges to educational equity.