A non-scalar analysis of teacher policymaking
Hurdus, Jeremy Aaron Quinn
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Current research in language-in-education policy relies heavily on scalar metaphors. Many authors within human geography, drawing on developments that reject bounded notions of space, have argued that scale does more harm than good and should be eliminated from social science research. Instead, they see space as best understood as the product of social relations which may take the form of connections, conjunctions, or disjunctions. Applying this relational framework to teacher policymaking in two Spanish-English bilingual primary schools in the American state of Washington, I seek to answer the following question: how do teachers perceive the relationship between their connections, conjunctions, and disjunctions and their production of policy? Twelve teachers participated in the study, and data was collected using ethnographic methods, including interviews, site visits, and observations. The data was analyzed using egocentric policy network analysis which simultaneously elucidates the relational production of policy and individual agency. Results revealed various examples of policies made by teachers in interaction with others. Some of these, like bilingual read-alouds and bilingual journals, were developed between partners. Others, like the development of a Spanish literacy assessment tool, occurred when a district official worked with teachers who requested support in this area. Results also revealed that patterns of social organization were modified by teachers themselves, by requesting a change of partner or by forging intentional disjunctions with administrators. Scalar explanations cannot account for these findings; the mutually constitutive nature of teachers¿ political relations and their agency suggests that social relations should be considered an element of structure that affects and is affected by teachers.