Policies worldwide increasingly call for teachers to act as 'agents of change', often in relation to social justice agendas. Relationships are an essential aspect of such agency, e.g. for addressing risks of exclusion and improving attainment of all students. However, teachers' capacity for entering and building appropriate relationships is rarely systematically explored as an essential aspect of their professional engagement and development. In this talk I present a study of associations between teachers' perceptions of their role as agents of change, and students' and teachers' perceptions of their interpersonal relationships. I also consider the implications for future studies of associations between teachers'perceptions of their roles and dimensions of relationships with colleagues and other professionals. Such collaborative relationships are seen as part of school structures and cultures that can foster or impede teachers' collective agency required for addressing issues beyond classroom.Identifying the kind of relationships that are beneficial for addressing exclusion and underachievement can inform more systematic teacher development for building professionally appropriate relationships as part of their agency for social justice.
Dr Nataša Pantić is a Chancellor's Fellow at the School of Education of the University of Edinburgh. She studies how teachers' capacities to act as agents of social justice manifest in their practices influenced by school and broader policy level factors, and how such capacities can be developed in teacher education and professional development programmes. Her research interests include the developments around educational change and inclusion in contexts of diversity, and links between education, values and citizenship. Before taking up the post of a Chancellor's Fellow in September 2012, Nataša has completed her PhD at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences at Utrecht University, and worked as a researcher with the Centre for Education Policy in Belgrade.