Enabling school structure, mindfulness, and teacher empowerment: test of a theory
This study looked at the relationship of an enabling school structure and mindfulness toward teacher empowerment. An enabling school structure is the perception in which leadership fosters collaboration, innovation, and trust among participants. Its rules and procedures are flexible and promote problem-solving (Hoy & Sweetland, 2000, 2001). Mindfulness is ongoing scrutiny of existing expectations, continuous refinement of those expectations based on new experiences, appreciation of the subtleties of context, and identification of novel aspects of context that can improve foresight and functioning (Hoy, 2003). Teacher empowerment is the process whereby teachers develop the competence to take charge of their own growth and resolve their own problems (Short, 1994a). It was hypothesized that a structure that supports mindfulness should combine with mindfulness to predict teacher empowerment. To test the central hypothesis, some 1,100 teachers at 23 schools responded to surveys that measured an enabling school structure (Enabling School Structure), mindfulness (Mindfulness Scale), and teacher empowerment (School Participant Empowerment Scale) in the 2008-2009 school year. Reliabilities for all measures, including the subscales of teacher empowerment, ranged from .71 to .92, indicating acceptable levels of reliability. As predicted, an enabling school structure and mindfulness were related. Although both an enabling school structure and mindfulness were related to subscales of the empowerment measure, there was no significant relationship to the overall measure. Significant relationships emerged through regressing the empowerment subscales of professional growth, self-efficacy, and impact, although there was no significant simultaneous relationship between the two predictors and the overall test of teacher empowerment. Further study should examine the theoretical base of broad teacher participation as an outcome desired by teachers. Raising the sample size might find relationships that had been hypothesized but were not sufficiently robust as to emerge in a sample of 23 schools. Finally, it may be that training teachers to become more active participants in the school at large is the precursor to useful teacher empowerment.