, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 511-534
Date: 05 May 2012

Presence in context: Teachers’ negotiations with the relational environment of school

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Abstract

This inquiry research builds on the theory of presence in teaching (Rodgers and Raider-Roth 2006) adding nuanced understandings of how school contexts play into teachers’ abilities to support students’ learning. Findings are drawn from multiple interviews with five veteran middle school teachers, teachers’ written work, and field observations. Illustrating these findings is the compelling story of an exemplary teacher’s negotiations of her practice in response to the school’s relational environment. Our findings point to the teacher’s sense of isolation and vulnerability–indicators of the relational context in the school as a threat to undermining her presence. They also create a compelling argument for the importance of a healthy relational context to support teachers’ most powerful teaching, hence students’ learning.