• Wednesday, 13 May 2020
    12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
  • Zoom – further details provided upon registration

The rapid development of the novel coronavirus into the COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s response through a range of distancing measures have already had a profound impact not only on public life, economics and the environment, but also on learning and teaching. What is so unique during this pandemic is that it affects everybody. Although we are not all in the same boat (some have been more affected than others on many fronts), we are in this storm together; we cannot escape it and we need to respond and act quickly.

In the context of learning and teaching, this unprecedented situation can be seen as an opportunity to rethink our priorities, how to be a teacher and how to go on teaching under the new restricted conditions. This speaks of our capacity to act and make decisions based on what we believe matters the most for learning and teaching.

The focus of this third session in the Learning Through COVID-19 series will be on agency, choice and purpose. Agency is the ability to act and not feel helpless. But it is also so much more than an observable behaviour and self-initiated action. It can be learnt and fostered and it is a highly relational activity that connects the self with others in a given space and time context.

In this session, we will explore the concepts of agency and the role it plays in learning and teaching, now and in the future. Our discussion will be framed by Hitlin and Elder (2007) four types of agency: existential, pragmatic, identity and life course. Our guiding questions will be:

· How can the concept of agency inform the development of your teacher identity?

· What can it bring to your teaching practice?

· How can you foster students and colleagues’ sense of agency?

· What is the relationship between agency, choice and purpose?


I recommend reading the following paper prior to the session to assist with the theoretical aspects of the presentation and discussion of key concepts.

· Hitlin, S., & Elder, G. H. (2007). Time, Self, and the Curiously Abstract Concept of Agency*. [to be reviewed]. Sociological Theory, 25(2), 170-191. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9558.2007.00303.x

Franziska Trede is Associate Professor in Higher Education and Professional Practice in IML at UTS. She has written widely about the concept of agency in her co-edited book educating the deliberate professional and researched its impact on developing professional voice. She has conducted many workshops on agency with students, workplace supervisors, teachers and managers. Her hero is Hannah Arendt who wrote compellingly about the human condition and action