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The signifier ‘alternative’ in education has largely shifted from progressive or humanizing pedagogies to deficit framings requiring alternate graduation criteria. This development is part of broader neoliberal educational reform efforts that disrupt longstanding conceptions of teachers’ roles. This study serves to investigate long-term teachers’ understandings of their shifting roles in one secondary-level alternative education program in New York City. Specifically, this narrative analysis study explores participating teachers’ meanings around agency and their ability to form the relationships that they argue are central to meaningful pedagogies. Findings demonstrate a sense of loss regarding teacher agency and relationships, and a belief that neoliberal reform efforts have limited possibilities for a shared sense of purpose and collaboration.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Teaching Education, volume 29, issue 1, in 2017, available online: It may differ slightly from the final version of record.

Peer Reviewed



Taylor & Francis



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