Culture of empowerment in a restructured school

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Virginia Tech


“Culture of Empowerment in a Restructured School” is a qualitative study that explores how three teams of humanities teachers in a restructured high school try to create and sustain an environment in which they can make decisions over curriculum, pedagogy, and school self-governance. The study examines what “empowerment” means to the teachers in such a setting.

Various qualitative methods are used: participant observation, interviews, document analysis, and personal narrative. Teams of teachers who participated in this study teach at Capital High School, Charleston, WV, which opened in 1989 as a restructured school. It was named as a 1993 National Exemplary School by the United States Department of Education and a 1993 West Virginia Department of Education Blue Ribbon School.

In this study “empowerment” is considered as the democratic involvement of teachers as they have input into decisions which affect them and their students. A longitudinal survey of the historical background of the school precedes chapters describing spatial influences on the curriculum and instruction, altered governance structures, the effects of teaming organization, and the use of three specific teaching strategies: Writing To Learn, cooperative learning and computer technology. The final chapter gives an account of the current (1993) school conditions that deal with teacher empowerment and offers some “lessons learned” from a participant’s viewpoint.