Research Article

Exploring the role of instructional leaders in promoting agency in teachers’ professional learning

Dana A. Robertson 1 * , Lauren Breckenridge Padesky 2 , Laurie “Darian” Thrailkill 3 , Avia Kelly 4 , Cynthia H. Brock 4
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1 School of Education, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA2 Office of Curriculum and Instructional Design, Hawaii Department of Education, Honolulu, HI, USA3 Department of Literacy Studies, English Education, and History Education, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, USA4 School of Teacher Education, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, USA* Corresponding Author
International Journal of Professional Development, Learners and Learning, 6(1), 2024, ep2402,
Published Online: 22 December 2023, Published: 01 January 2024
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This qualitative study used structural analysis of conversational episodes and content analysis to examine how two instructional leaders fostered teacher agency and collaboration in planning ongoing structures and content during a yearlong professional learning experience in one elementary school. Framed within a theory of agency, we found a merging of insider and outsider knowledge in the interactions between university partners and the two leaders of the English language arts leadership team that occurred across time, that agentive discourse was topically coherent among the leadership team as a collective group, and that the collective group maintained reflective and forward-looking common professional learning goals. We argue that meaningful professional development contexts position all participants in ways that value and trust their individual contributions and prompt them to act agentively to meet individual learning goals while maintaining a focus on the school’s collective goals.


Robertson, D. A., Padesky, L. B., Thrailkill, L. “., Kelly, A., & Brock, C. H. (2024). Exploring the role of instructional leaders in promoting agency in teachers’ professional learning. International Journal of Professional Development, Learners and Learning, 6(1), ep2402.


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