Empowerment: Teacher Perceptions, Aspirations and Efficacy

Article excerpt

There is widespread public concern regarding the status of American schooling. There has been substantial interest evolving over the recent years concerning the role of the teacher in decisions made in the operation of schools.

This paper examines the degree of congruence between teachers perceived and aspired level of shared decision making and teacher self-efficacy, which is believed to be a central component in the restructuring of schooling. Also discussed are ancillary questions which the literature suggests may contribute to teacher self efficacy. It is asserted that there is a lack of clarity regarding role expectations and aspirations of teachers regarding decision making, which results in a lack of general and personal self-efficacy. Based upon the literature review, the author states that the teacherOs sense of competency and self-efficacy is at the heart of reform and is the sine qua non of

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There is widespread public concern regarding the status of American schooling. Since the early 1970Os American education has been at the forefront of public policy analysis. In the ensuing decades, we have witnessed a parade of panels, task forces and commissions press for reform of education. Subsequently, these groups promulgated a spate of critical documents in the 1980Os followed with more than 200 state commissions and task forces reporting the demise of public education in the United States. The rhetoric of these reports was often accusatory and strident. One of the major reports, A Nation At Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform, (Commission for Excellence in Education, 1983) discussed education in terms of war and surrender.

In an effort to respond to the reports detailing the failure of schooling in America, educational reform was initiated with great energy and determination. The first wave of restructuring efforts to increase the quality and effectiveness of the educational enterprise was comprised of public policy mandates and inducements. This wave was characterized by adherence to the Industrial Age model of management (Taylor, 1947). It was authoritarian, teacher centered, competitive, stressed uniform minimum standards, accountability and was single pathed and linear (Sergiovanni, 1993). These coercive initiatives did little to change either the functioning or the public perception of the status of American schools.

Following this unsuccessful attempt at school reform, came the second wave of reform. This current wave has emphasized capacity-building and system-changing activities that address fundamental transformation of the infrastructure of public schools. It espouses learner centered teaching, participation, cooperation and collaboration and is multi-pathed. This era is characterized by attempts to increase the use of democratic principles and approaches consonant with the current shared decision making (SDM)) and site-based management (SBM) focus. Although the intent of this wave appears lauditory, there was little, if any preparation of school personnel to meet this lofty call for change. This lack of preparation for an innovation is evidenced throughout the attempted reforms of the educational system, and this failing has had a substantive effect on teacher attributes of efficacy and empowerment.

Empowerment and Shared Decision Making: Teacher Issues

In response to the second wave of reform calling for school management decentralization and increased participation and collaboration in decision making, there has been substantial interest evolving over the recent years concerning the role of the teacher in decisions made in the operation of schools (Morrison, G.M, Wakefield, P., Walker, D. & Solberg, S. 1994; Husband, R.E. & Short, P.M., 1994; Keedy, J.L. & Finch, A.M., 1994; Hess, G. A., 1994).

Numerous journal articles have been written about the need for decentralization of authority and the inclusion of teachers in site-based decision-making and provided evidence of positive outcomes (Weiss, 1993, Reyes, 1992; Chase, 1991; Sebring & Camburn, 1992), but there is little research to provide information regarding the role, beliefs and aspirations of the teachers. …

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