We draw on two studies of student teachers as they learn about learning while interacting with pupils. We argue that the affective notion of relational agency needs to become more central to understanding pedagogy if we are to prepare learners for the demands of the knowledge age. Here relational agency is defined as a capacity to engage with the dispositions of others in order to interpret and act on the object of our actions in enhanced ways. The social practices of settings in which these dispositions for collaborative engagement are enacted are examined using the conceptual tools of sociocultural psychology and activity theory. Implications for both the learning of pupils and of student teachers are discussed.