Reconsidering Resistance and Challenges: Teacher Agency During Joint Instructional Inquiry with Literacy Coaches

Dana A. Robertson, Lauren Breckenridge Padesky, Laurie “Darian” Thrailkill, Tia Frahm, Cynthia H. Brock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This qualitative study examined coach-teacher interactions among eight teachers, one administrator, and three university-based coaches in one rural elementary school. Framed within a theory of agency, we examined videos of coaching interactions as coaches and teachers debriefed and co-planned vocabulary instructional ideas stemming from a yearlong, schoolwide professional learning opportunity. We found that teachers’ agentive actions (i.e. intentionality, autonomy, reflectivity, efficacy doubt, principled resistance) were in response coaches’ talk that elicited reflection, sought clarification, expanded on instructional suggestions, and affirmed teachers’ contributions to coaching conversations. We also found that teachers’ challenges or resistance to presented vocabulary principles and literacy practices were not always acknowledged or taken up by the coaches. We conclude that reconsidering how and why teachers resist coaching suggestions might inform how we support and prepare coaches to work with teachers in ways that value and trust their individual contributions and prompt them to act agentively toward continuous improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLiteracy Research and Instruction
StateAccepted/In press - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Coaching
  • coach-teacher interactions
  • literacy
  • professional learning
  • teacher agency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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