“The Freedom to Teach”: The Role of (Re)Professionalization in Cultivating Responsive Schooling for Immigrant Students

Adriana Villavicencio, Sarah Klevan, Chandler Patton Miranda, Reva Jaffe-Walter, Hua Sebastian Cherng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While we know that professionalization improves outcomes for teachers, education policy has effectively deprofessionalized teachers, especially those who serve immigrant English Learners. Based on a three-year case study, this paper explores how teachers in an immigrant-serving school exercised autonomy and authority over their instruction and professional development. Drawing on staff interviews and observations of teacher meetings, this paper further describes how these professional conditions positioned teachers to better serve their student population. Our study also revealed the underlying conditions that made teacher autonomy possible, including the negotiation of external policy and a robust model of shared decision-making. By providing rich descriptions of teacher work, this paper moves beyond abstractions of professionalization and toward a concrete set of practices that other schools can employ to reprofessionalize teachers. Moreover, we argue that reprofessionalizing teachers can better equip teachers to create learning opportunities that are responsive to students’ needs. In so doing, the paper speaks to the potential short-sightedness of policies that further undermine teacher autonomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-176
Number of pages21
JournalEducational Studies - AESA
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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