Becoming Agents of Change


This paper reports on a participatory action research study that aimed to enable teacher agency. The study, which worked with 14 language teachers, was underpinned by critical pedagogy and shaped by a critical paradigm. Within three participatory action research cycles, interventions were used to facilitate the teachers' understanding and enactment of agency. After each cycle, data was generated using visual representations, opinion pieces, open-ended questionnaires, and written pieces. It was found that explicit teaching about agency is required to enable understanding of the concept. In addition, as the teachers worked within the study, they reflected increased independence in thought, words and action. Further, they recognised the need to be a life-long learner and a reflexive teacher-practitioner, mindful of the possible transformations within their professional identities.


Teacher Agency, Participatory Action Research, Interventions, Reflexivity, Transformation, Teacher Identity


Educational Organization and Leadership


Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


  • Ansurie Pillay
    • Senior Lecturer, School of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
    • After teaching English and Drama at high schools for many years, I went into documentary film-making. During this time, I won a Commonwealth Vision Award for my efforts. In 2009, I joined the School of Education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. I work with undergraduates and postgraduates within language education, and supervise masters and PhD students. My research interests include teacher agency and  social justice issues in language education. In 2017, I was awarded the Distinguished Teacher Award at the university.