Thirty years is a long time for any job; however, any teacher will tell you that there are weeks, semesters, or years that seem like an eternity. Often this temporal phenomenon is assumed to be an inherent aspect of the profession. This phenomenon is often seen as a manifestation of a variety of factors including, but not limited to, the type of students, the career stage of the teacher, personal problems, change in administrative style, or merely, in some cases, boredom from the repetitiousness of teaching the same old thing. Another more enervating factor is the professional isolation in which most teachers work. Creativity is dampened, challenges are not raised, and critical introspection of one's work is hard when one is isolated. Only a teacher understands this pervasive isolation. Only teachers understand that traditional faculty meetings, lunchroom chatter, and occasional hallway conversation are not enough to offset the deleterious effects of their professional isolation.
What teachers do not understand is that the isolation is also a political tool whose effective controlling power keeps them in line, socially, curricularly, and politically. It is a tool wielded by those whose contradictory purposes of facilitating teacher creativity and motivational energy and at the same time keeping tight control over teachers result in the paper changes that satisfy audits and mandates but not the parents, students, teachers, administrators, and business people who so vociferously criticize the effectiveness of education. In addition, the emotional consequences of professional isolation play themselves out in a number of ways, ranging from professional esteem issues to unrealistic and negative opinions of other faculty that rupture relationships and blunt the projects and initiatives of other faculty members.
Teacher Talk is my attempt to explore methods and ideas that can ameliorate the deleterious effects of teacher isolation. The structure and