We All Ascend Together: A teacher-oriented exploration into the affordances and limitations to developing learner agency in years 4-8 Aotearoa/New Zealand classrooms.
Educators and researchers agree that developing learner agency is necessary to ensure learners are prepared for a changing future. However, learner agency is not widely embedded across schools. This qualitative study identifies the key affordances and challenges of embedding learner agency from the perspective of six Aotearoa/New Zealand primary school teachers. Through semi-structured interviews and thematising of data, teachers identified what impacted their development of learner agency within their schools. Results revealed that learner agency is both afforded and challenged when stakeholders’ (leaders, teachers, learners and whānau) beliefs in learner agency are established and when there is a shared understanding of the practices required to ensure learner agency development. From there, active, powerful and reciprocal partnerships must be established between all stakeholders. Finally, all stakeholders’ roles must be positioned where power is shared. The role of leadership was especially highlighted as a key affordance and challenge to developing learner agency. It is through leadership focus and prioritising of time, resources and professional learning that practices supporting learner agency are advanced.