Teaching in the COVID-19 era: Understanding the opportunities and barriers for teacher agency

M. C.M. Ehren, R. Madrid, Sara Romiti, P. W. Armstrong, P. Fisher, D. L. McWhorter

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-76
Number of pages16
JournalPerspectives in Education
Issue number1
Early online date12 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 University of Pretoria. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

COVID-19 special issue: Opportunity to rethink and restructure education in the world.


  • COVID-19
  • Distance learning
  • Home-schooling
  • Parent-teacher partnerships
  • Teacher agency


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