• Adaptive agency: some surviving and some thriving in the 'interesting times' of English teaching

      Goodwyn, Andrew (Emerald, 2019-06-03)
      Purpose This paper aims to introduce the concept of adaptive agency and illustrate its emergence in the field of English teaching in a number of countries using England over the past 30 years as a case study. It examines how the exceptional flexibility of English as school subject has brought many external impositions whilst its teachers have evolved remarkable adaptivity. Design/methodology/approach It proposes several models of agency and their different modes, focussing finally on adaptive agency as a model that has emerged over a 30-year period. It considers aspects of this development across a number of countries, mostly English speaking ones, but its chief case is that of England. It is principally a theoretical paper drawing on Phenomenology, Critical Realism and later modernist interpretations of Darwinian Theory, but it is grounded by drawing on two recent empirical projects to illustrate English teachers' current agency. It offers a fresh overview of how agency and accountability have interacted within a matrix of official policy and constraint. Findings Adaptive agency has become a necessary aspect of teacher expertise. Such a mode of working creates great emotional strains and tensions, leading to many teachers leaving the profession. However, many English teachers whilst feeling controlled in the matrix of power and the panopticon of surveillance, remain resilient and positive about the future of the subject.
    • Black male student teachers: tomorrow’s teachers?

      Maylor, Uvanney (Emerald, 17-12-15)
      England’s school population is ethnically diverse yet the teacher workforce is predominantly White and female. While Black teachers are in short supply in England, Black male teachers are even fewer in number. This article seeks to understand the shortage of Black male teachers through the qualitative experiences of a small group of Black male pre-service teachers. Utilising critical race theory the article seeks to understand the preparation that a group of Black male pre-service teachers during their teacher training course and its impact on their willingness to commit to entering the teaching profession. The article questions whether Black pre-service teachers experience of a lack of acceptance in schools during their pre-service training contributes to the under-representation of Black male teachers in English schools.
    • Classroom-based action research with secondary school students: a teacher-researcher's reflection

      Wood, Audrey B.; University of Huddersfield (Emerald, 2017-05-02)
      Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to reflect on some of the professional and practical challenges which emerged during the process of carrying out a small-scale action research project into different approaches to teaching English Literature in a Year-9 secondary classroom, completed in part-fulfilment of the requirements for a higher degree. Design/methodology/approach: The author narrates an account of some of the difficulties faced by one emergent researcher whilst carrying out educational research in a comprehensive school in England. Findings: The author suggests that even within a research-supportive environment where “research” is encouraged or expected, there is often limited effort from management to articulate the practicalities or evaluate its effectiveness. Despite this, the author emphasises the benefits to teachers and students of undertaking small-scale action research projects into issues of contemporary professional concern in the classroom. The author argues for the involvement of school administrators and universities in supporting teacher-researchers. Originality/value: The value of this research lies in acknowledging some of the challenges that emergent researchers might face in conducting research in the context of the classroom, which might enable other teacher-researchers to anticipate and avoid similar problems in their own research, and circumvent criticism from those who believe that educational research should not be carried out by teachers.
    • "First meetings": constructive first encounters between pre-service teachers and their mentors

      Connolly, Steve M.; Bates, Gareth; Shea, James (Emerald, 2020-07-30)
      Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to report the findings from an action research project in which the researchers sought to develop a set of questions for use by mentors (experienced teachers) and mentees (pre-service teachers) on a course of initial teacher education (ITE) when they first met – the “initial encounter”. Design Methodology/Approach: The researchers used an action research approach to address the lower retention rate of pre-service teachers from different backgrounds, such as Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME), and the issues around mentoring which may exacerbate this problem. Discussions between the course team and participating mentors and mentees suggested that the initial encounter between mentor and mentee was significant, and an action research methodology would allow for developing questions that might structure such encounters. Findings: The researchers found that a useful and effective set of questions could be developed and used by mentors and mentees. Additionally, this process gave researchers insights into the nature of the first encounters between mentors and mentees on an ITE course and how both groups see their roles. In several cycles of action research, the participants produced a number of iterations of such questions, which were refined across a two-year period. Research Limitations/Implications: While it is too early to tell if the issues leading to the lower retention rate of pre-service teachers that prompted the project have been reduced in any significant way, the researchers suggest that thinking about these initial encounters can impact the way a mentor and mentee goes on to build a relationship. Originality/Value: The authors found very little research in the field of teacher education which looks at initial encounters between mentors and mentees and thus make an original contribution to the mentoring literature.