Exactly what are teacher communities? What are they after? How do they begin? Do they evolve through stages? How alike or different are they from one another? How are such communities built?

It is these important questions that Joel Westheimer turns to in Among Schoolteachers. This is a compelling and thoroughly readable account of two middle schools—one urban and one suburban--that attempt to build communities which will foster student growth and learning. With much fine-grained detail about how each professional community conducted its daily affairs, the author delves beneath the surface to reveal enormous differences in the goals, structures, processes, and beliefs of these communities and offers a new conceptual model for understanding teacher communities in practice. This book shatters prevailing beliefs and furthers our understanding of the ways in which teachers’ relationships impact their work and their lives in schools.

Among School Teachers: Community, Autonomy, and Ideology in Teachers' Work                          Joel Westheimer                                                                                                                        Publication date: April 17, 1998                                                                                                          

In the United States, order through Teachers College Press or                                    For Teachers College Press orders, use code "Democracy2017" at checkout (35% off).

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“This is no once-over-lightly piece of research….(Joel Westheimer) leaves in tatters the tapestry of rhetoric that has been woven by reformers around the idea that all teacher communities are alike and that building them requires only a few hardy souls with moxie and determination…. For this passion, for the quality of the study itself, and for the importance of teacher communities in school reform, Westheimer and Teachers College Press have done practitioners, policy makers, and researchers a considerable service in publishing Among Schoolteachers.”

–From the Foreword by Larry Cuban, Stanford University


Among Schoolteachers is a thoroughly engaging account of what makes two teacher communities ‘tick’….This is neither a romanticized celebration of teacher community nor a detached portrait of two schools. Instead, Westheimer’s account is at once passionate and analytic, critical and empathic. It is exactly the kind of rendering of schools we need for our own democratic dialogue as scholars.”

Suzanne M. Wilson, Michigan State University


“Timely and informative. Among Schoolteachers sheds light on hard questions about community: Can we have both common purpose and tolerance for major professional dissent? Is community compatible with rigorous professional judgment or does it lead to acquiescence in the name of ‘getting along’? This is an important book for both teachers and policy makers.”

Nel Noddings, Stanford University


“Joel Westheimer takes us beyond the rhetoric of community as something necessarily sunny and succulent, revealing both the conceptual limits and the daily difficulties of community-building as a strategy for reform….If we are propelled to act, (his) charting of this tricky terrain will be a useful map, an essential guide to survival.”

William Ayers, University of Illinois at Chicago


“This book is a significant contribution to the burgeoning dialogue on community. It brings needed assistance to our understanding of just what is entailed in professional relationship patterns of different sorts. You’ll not go examining ‘good’ schools in the same way you did before reading it!”

Mary Anne Raywid, Hofstra University