065ms Portrait of a Dilemma: A Case Study of Teacher Compliance and Agency in the Context of Educational Reform

Kate Olson


This article examines the implications of educational policies on teachers beliefs and practices for English Learners in the context of the California educational reform agenda. Utilizing cultural-historical activity theories of learning, this qualitative case study paints a personal and pedagogical portrait of two bilingual teachers that demonstrates how their folk theories of action were imbued with particular ideologies of teaching and learning that influenced how they interpreted and adapted educational reforms into their literacy instruction for English Learners. The findings demonstrate that educational policies are filtered by each teachers need to strike a balance between compliance to authority and their own ethos of what it means to be a good teacher. Therefore, this study exemplifies the dilemma with which teacher educators and policymakers contend as they try to reform and change teacher knowledge and practice.

Key Words: social organization of learning, English learners, teacher beliefs, teacher agency, educational policy

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