Job Satisfaction and Empowerment among Teacher Leaders, Reading Recovery Teachers and Regular Classroom Teachers

Article excerpt

Empowering teachers is an essential part of school restructuring as evidenced b projects such as Sizer's Coalition of Essential Schools (Muncey & McQuillan, 1993), the New Standards Project (Simmons & Resnick, 1993), school-based decision making in Chicago and Kentucky, or teacher involvement in developing standards (Alexander, 1993). Another project, developed by Short and Greer (1991), educated teachers to competently analyze a problem and reach reasonable conclusions because effective decision making is an important attribute in today's schools. Even though making judgements is an essential part of empowerment, other factors may exist and should be identified as researchers begin to study re-structured organizations.

A few researchers are beginning to investigate empowerment and its effects on selected organizational variables. For example, Short and Rinehart (1992) developed an instrument to measure empowerment and, sequentially, utilized it with teachers to examine the relationship to school climate. An inverse association was found between these two variables which was attributed to teachers expressing more divergent beliefs and ideas, raising levels of conflict, and lowering perceptions of school climate. Short and Rinehart indicated a need to explore the relationship to other psychological constructs (such as job satisfaction, commitment, motivation, etc.) that may be affected b restructuring efforts. In fact, it is believed that empowerment may be a better predictors of job satisfaction than demographic variables (Billingsley & Cross, 1992).

In following this suggestion, teacher job satisfaction was chosen for analysis because of a hypothesized, although not always supported, relationship to productivity. In educational settings and with teachers as subjects, researcher have already examined job satisfaction with correlates of job performance, quality of work life, and organizational effectiveness (Hoy & Miskel, 1991). However, with restructuring efforts emphasizing teacher empowerment, Lester (1988) urged investigation of this variable as a correlate of job satisfaction because of its unknown effects on educational settings and related constructs.

Conceptual Framework

Empowerment

Empowerment is a dominant theme in all types of organizations including businesses, industries, and service institutions. Consequently, this strategy has received the attention of educational policy makers who sought to restructure public education (Maeroff, 1988; Lightfoot, 1986). Teacher involvement in educational decision making also has been promoted by researchers, educational, and political groups (Cuban, 1990; Farber & Miller, 1981; Maeroff, 1988) because of a belief that those closest to existing problem have the expertise to solve them.

Embedded within the participative problem solving strategy is the assumption that the derived answers will improve outcomes or enhance production. For example, some researchers have indicated that employee participation in decisio making will result in increased organizational effectiveness(Lawler, 1986). Other authors visualize staff members, who are enabled to initiate and carry ou new ideas, creating enhanced learning opportunities for students (Lieberman & Miller, 1984; Short & Greer, 1989). These impressions of empowerment are glimpses from an outcomes perspective.

Other viewpoints of empowerment range from single to multiple dimensional statements. For example, Jenkins (1988) stated "To empower others is to give a stakeholder share in the movement and direction of the enterprise" which implie that empowerment is essentially participative decision making. Lightfoot (1986) who envisioned a multifaceted variable, indicated that teacher empowerment was the opportunity for an individual to have autonomy, choice, and responsibility. Short and Rinehart (1992), by empirically deriving components of empowerment through factor analysis, identified six dimensions which they labeled (a) decision making, (b) professional growth, (c) status, (d) self-efficacy, (e) autonomy, and (f) impact. …