Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Dan O'Sullivan
Educational Studies Association of Ireland (ESAI) Annual Conference 2021
Entwined with the Past: Iterational Agency Achievement among Beginning Teachers during Induction
Online Conference [Hosted by Marino Institute of Education (MIE)]
Oral Presentation
Optional Fields
Background / Context This study centres on iterational agency achievement among nine beginning primary teachers, during their induction year of practice, post-graduation. The achievement of agency is conceived of as a temporal phenomenon, that is, a configuration of influences from the past, engagement with the present, and orientations towards the future. In given instances, the degree to which each dimension contributes to agency achievement varies, resulting in one temporal orientation being the dominant tone (Emirbayer & Mische 1998; Biesta & Tedder 2007; Priestly et al. 2015). Iterational aspects contributing to agency achievement include personal and professional beliefs and values rooted in past experiences, life histories and professional biographies. Research aim / Objective This study aims to evidence what agentic processes would entail were the iterational tone to be sounded most forcefully by the beginning participants during their induction year. Methods / Data Sources This study draws on interview data derived from the nine beginning participants. A three-cycle, individual interview design, facilitated continuing contact with participants throughout the induction year (Kvale & Brinkmann 2009). Tantamount to the analytic technique of ‘pattern-matching’ (Yin 2006), cross-case analysis is used to identify common patterns relating to the iterational nature of participants’ agency recurring across the nine cases (Braun & Clarke 2013; Miles et al. 2014). Key Findings Representative interview data are drawn upon to substantiate that when agency is in its iterational modality, the present is permeated by the conditioning quality of the past. Firstly, past workplace experiences and an appreciation of the historicity of the workplace are both utilised to “read” the micropolitical reality of present workplaces. Secondly, iterational agency rooted in life histories directs beginners towards certain pedagogical practices. Accordingly, the influence of traditional didacticism is prominent in early pedagogical thinking. Takeaway Points Firstly, in illustrating how beginning practice is intertwined with the past, the discussion of agency is placed squarely within the context of its own historicity. It argues for a conception of beginning practice that acknowledges not only its spatial and ecological arrangements, but also its temporal embeddedness (Pantić 2015; Hardy & Edwards-Groves 2016). Secondly, the study demonstrates that habitual and routinised activities are not devoid of agency (Emirbayer & Mische 1998). Manifested in beginners’ abilities to recall, to select, and to appropriately apply tacit actions that they have developed through past interactions, the agentic dimension lies in how beginners selectively recognise and implement practices in their ongoing, situated transactions.