Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2020

Thesis Advisor(s)

Richard Gonzales; Catherine Little

Honors Major

Elementary Education


Elementary Education


This study explores how teachers make decisions and navigate different contexts to support their students. I investigated how teachers use agency, ownership, and learning in the positive, adaptive choices they make to achieve better student outcomes. The purpose of this honors thesis is to surface ideas about how teachers can serve students in different schools with various needs and different amounts of resources.

The research questions framing the study are as follows: (1) How do teachers make choices about how to utilize their professional support network? (2) How do teachers make choices about their instructional approach to support students? (3) How do teachers make choices to demonstrate they like, care, and think about their students? In the study, four practicing teachers from two different school districts are surveyed on their teaching experiences in their given district.

Overall, the results showed some common themes about decisions teachers make based on the interviews conducted. When discussing how they use their professional support network, many teachers mentioned the importance of collaboration with colleagues, as well as feeling supported, and meeting the needs of educators. In terms of instructional approach, teachers discussed their focus on students and the importance of having professional choice. When demonstrating care for students, teachers mentioned a love for the community and taking time to learn about students and their culture. In conclusion, the results show that regardless of the district and varying resources available, teachers used similar methodology when making decisions to support their students. The results are important as they show how teachers manage resource inequity in different contexts with similar beliefs and teaching practices.