Developing as an agentive bilingual teacher: self-reflexive and student-learning inquiry as teacher education resources

Joanna Wong, Steven Z. Athanases, Leslie C. Banes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As classrooms grow increasingly diverse internationally, teachers need support to teach diverse students. Bilingual teachers hold particular potential to provide culturally and linguistically responsive instruction. We need to know more about teacher education learning opportunities and ways bilingual teachers leverage these as resources. Drawing on theories of teacher agency and resources for teacher knowledge, we examined two resources that may foster teacher learning and practice. The first was self-reflexive inquiry into language and culture. The second resource was student-learning inquiry into students as language users and learners. Over three years, we followed Alma (a Colombian who immigrated to the US) in an undergraduate Cultural Diversity and Education course, a post-Baccalaureate teacher credential program, and an MA program during her first year teaching kindergarten in a dual-language program. We found that Alma sustained resourcefulness in teaching, leveraging multiple resources for agentive decision-making. Our study highlights contributions of self-reflexive and student-learning inquiries as Alma grounded her teaching in personal experiences as a bilingual, language ideologies, and her students’ moments of language learning and meaning-making. We theorize that linking one’s experiences with multiple interacting resources can foster needed knowledge and agency in novice teachers as they engage in decision-making in complex teaching contexts.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
StatePublished - 2020


  • Teacher education
  • bilingual teachers
  • self-reflexive inquiry
  • student-learning inquiry
  • leveraging
  • teacher agency


  • Teacher Education and Professional Development
  • Language and Literacy Education

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