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Teacher empowerment: leaving the twilight zone
About the talk
Over the past few years and in different fields, the word 'empowerment' has become increasingly used in talks, papers and social media. Education, of course, has not escaped this trend and the concept is frequently mentioned as a desired outcome of any educational activity and teachers, among the lucky ones to benefit from it. However, and interestingly, the notion of empowerment is usually not defined and hardly discussed in depth. Is then empowerment such a common concept these days that needs no clarification? Or, is it that its complexity deters any further analysis? I believe the persistent calls for the empowerment of teachers demand a closer study of the process and a critical appraisal of its occurrence.
In this talk, we examine the concept of empowerment and 'teacher empowerment' more specifically. I draw on general education literature to present the different dimensions of teacher empowerment and what research findings suggest regarding its role in students' achievement. We zoom in on English language teaching and look at how empowered English teachers claim to feel by sharing stories of empowerment and disempowerment. In doing so, I invite you to reflect on enabling features, hindering factors and paradoxes identified to ultimately think of ways forward if we 'truly' wish teacher empowerment to leave the twilight zone.