Behind Closed Doors

Teachers and the Role of the Teachers' Lounge

By Miriam Ben-Peretz & Shifra Schonmann
Foreword by Philip W. Jackson

Subjects: Teacher Education
Paperback : 9780791444481, 199 pages, February 2000
Hardcover : 9780791444474, 199 pages, February 2000

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents




1. Modes of Inquiry

2. Social Situations

3. Dramatic Language

4. Blurring of Boundaries

5. Metaphors and Monologues

6. Teachers' Perception of Lounges and Student Achievement (Coauthored with Haggai Kupermintz)

7. Principals in the Teachers' Lounge: Intruders or Colleagues?

8. Professional Communities and Teacher Development

9. Implications for Teacher Education

Epilogue: Paradoxes in the Lounge

Appendix I

Appendix II



Provides insights into an uncharted territory in the educational environment of schools--the teachers' lounge.


What happens behind the closed doors of the teachers' lounge? Does the lounge provide more than a place to rest and maybe drink a cup of coffee between classes? Behind Closed Doors examines the teachers' lounge as a site for the development of communal knowledge. While the book discusses an extensive qualitative study of teacher interactions in 26 teachers' lounges in Israeli schools, it reveals that the culture of teachers transcends national boundaries and is quite recognizable. Teachers in the lounge are regarded in this book as 'learners' whether they are actually involved in formal professional development activities, or in informal exchanges with their colleagues. Teachers learn about students and modes of instruction, but also about norms of collegiality that govern life in the lounge, and about supporting each other and coping with the manifold stresses of teaching. Written in a lively fashion, this book makes a significant contribution to the literature on teacher learning and socialization.

At the University of Haifa, Israel, Miriam Ben-Peretz is Professor of Education and Shifra Schonmann is a Senior Lecturer of Education and Head of the Division of Development and Administration of Educational Systems. Miriam Ben-Peretz is the author of several books, including Learning from Experience: Memory and the Teacher's Account of Teaching and The Teacher Curriculum-Encounter: Freeing Teachers from the Tyranny of Texts, both published by SUNY Press, and is the coeditor, with Rainer Bromme, of The Nature of Time in Schools: Theoretical Concepts: Practitioner Perceptions. Shifra Schonmann is author of Theater of the Class.


"What comes to mind immediately about this book is its ring of authenticity. I, too, am a former high school teacher (with experience in four quite different countries in North America, Europe, and Asia) and have spent many 'free' moments in the teacher's lounge. I continue to do so as I supervise interns. What the authors describe seems to be part of a universal culture of teachers—a culture which transcends national boundaries. " — Helen Christiansen, coeditor of Recreating Relationships: Collaboration and Educational Reform