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Fear and Trembling in the American High School : Educational Reform and Teacher Alienation
Jeffrey S. Brooks, Roxanne M. Hughes and Melanie C. Brooks Educational Policy 2008 22: 45 DOI: 10.1177/0895904807311296 The online version of this article can be found at: http://epx.sagepub.com/content/22/1/45

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Fear and Trembling in the American High School


Educational Reform and Teacher Alienation
Jeffrey S. Brooks Roxanne M. Hughes Melanie C. Brooks
Florida State University

Educational Policy Volume 22 Number 1 January 2008 45-62 2008 Corwin Press 10.1177/0895904807311296 http://epx.sagepub.com hosted at http://online.sagepub.com

This article reports findings from a two-year case study of teachers in a single public high school. Data were gathered and analyzed using a conceptual framework that conceived of alienation as a set of five sub-constructs: powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, isolation, and estrangement. Findings suggested that teachers experienced each of these forms of alienation, but that each individual teacher interpreted them in a unique manner. Moreover, data suggested that for individual teachers, experiences of alienation varied from situation to situation and evolved over time. The authors concluded that teacher alienation was a fluid phenomenon, a seemingly basic assertion that has profound implications for teachers, administrators, and policymakers as they consider adopting or implementing reform initiatives. Keywords: alienation; burnout; schoolteachers; high schools

n Fear and Trembling, Danish Philosopher Sren Kierkegaard (1843/1986) explained a fundamental problem of the human condition: We have both base animal instincts and a touch of the divine in our souls. As a result, he concluded that we live in a constant state of tensionbetween spiritual perfection and primal urges. Given that these two essential forces cannot be entirely reconciled in relation to one another, we live our lives in a constant state of fear and trembling. Although he did not use the term himself, this tension was later termed alienation by philosophers and sociologists (Israel, 1971). Kierkegaard mused about the philosophical import of these ideas for humanity-writ-large, but more recent research suggests that a specific group of professionals experience a similar tension in their work life: secondary schoolteachers in the United States (Brooks, 2006a). High school teachers work in a rhetorical space between a utopia in which all children can learn
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and a (micro)political reality that often makes teaching tremendously difficult because of complex and interrelated sociocultural and organizational dynamics (Brooks, 2006b; Ogawa & Bossert, 1995; Wirt & Kirst, 1972). Researchers have documented various ways teachers experience alienation (e.g., Dworkin, 1987; LeCompte & Dworkin, 1991; Zielinski & Hoy, 1983), but few have empirically explored how secondary schoolteachers experience alienation as they engage in educational reform activity. The purpose of this study was to investigate teacher alienation during educational reform vis--vis one particular sociological conception of alienation developed by sociologist Melvin Seeman (1959, 1967, 1975, 1983). From Seemans empirical domain of alienation perspective, alienation consists of five distinct subconstructs: powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, isolation, and estrangement (Seeman, 1959). Using this conceptual framework, we investigated teacher alienation in a single public secondary school during the course of two academic years. As alienation was conceived as both an individual and cultural phenomenon, data were collected using methods consistent with ethnographic research (Wolcott, 1970, 1975). Two multifaceted research questions guided both fieldwork and subsequent analysis:
How do teachers perceive and experience alienation in relation to the way it is described in extant sociological conceptions of the phenomenon during educational reform? From high school teachers perspectives, do certain aspects of educational reform facilitate and/or impede a sense of alienation, both to them personally and as a cultural phenomenon?

This article begins with a review of literature and a more thorough explanation of the conceptual framework used in this study. We then describe the context of the study, briefly discuss our data collection and analysis techniques, and then present findings grounded in Seemans (1959) empirical domain of alienation perspective. The article concludes with a discussion of these findings in relation to their import for researchers and school leaders.

Conceptual Framework: A Sociological Perspective on Teacher Alienation


In addition to being of interest to philosophers, alienation has been explored in all the social sciences (Schacht, 1970), including, among others, political science (e.g. Templeton, 1966), anthropology (e.g. Megged, 1999),

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education (e.g. LeCompte & Dworkin, 1991; Zielinski & Hoy, 1983), psychology (e.g. Fromm 1941/1965; Horney, 1939, 1945), and sociology (e.g., Bakarat, 1969). Although there is broad and sustained interest in alienation and alienation-related themes, there is also great variation among definitions and meanings of alienation. We place this research in a distinct line of research based on a relatively recent sociological conception of alienation as a multifaceted domain of five interrelated empirical subconstructs.

The Empirical Domain of Alienation


In 1959, sociologist Melvin Seemans essay, On the Meaning of Alienation recast the mold of alienation as an empirical subject of study by conceptualizing alienation as a multifaceted domain of related constructs. Through an exhaustive and systematic review of both empirical and theoretical sociological studies of alienation, Seeman identified an empirical cluster of five distinct alternate meanings of alienation (Seeman, 1983, p. 783). These five variants, or subconstructs, of alienation constitute the empirical domain of alienation: powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, isolation, and estrangement (Seeman, 1959). Powerlessness is the expectancy or probability held by the individual that his own behavior cannot determine the occurrence of the outcomes, or reinforcements, he seeks (Seeman, 1959, p. 784). This view of alienation is derived from Marxs notion of alienated labor. Marx believed that human beings are creative by nature and that by working in a system that denies them ownership of the products on which they work, they lose power over a fundamental aspect of their lives (Schacht, 1970). Workers experiencing this form of alienation cannot influence the processes and products of their work. This strain of alienation studies, powerlessness, includes the schoolbased work of those who focus on the (in)equitable distribution of power within a social system (e.g., Bourdieu & Passeron, 1977; Giroux 1983a, 1983b; McLaren, 1989; Wirt & Kirst, 1972) and its attendant alienating socialpsychological effects on members of said system. Seeman (1983) noted that powerlessness, locus of control, and control itself are closely related ideas; empirical alienation studies should be sensitive to these notions. Meaninglessness occurs when the individual is unclear as to what [they] ought to believewhen the individuals minimal standards for clarity in decision-making are not met (Seeman, 1959, p. 786). Meaninglessness has to do with the individuals sense of understanding the events in which he is engaged (p. 786). It is important to note that, in the workplace, meaninglessness differs from powerlessness in that the individual feels no sense of

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the worth or intrinsic/extrinsic value of what they are doing. They may have input into the way the work is done or have some stake in the products, but they do not have a sense that the work is of value. Normlessness, the third variant of the alienation theme, is derived from Durkheims description of anomie and refers to . . . a situation in which the social norms have broken down or are no longer effective as rules for behavior (Seeman, 1959, p. 787). In their anthropological study of student dropouts and teacher burnouts LeCompte and Dworkin (1991) helped append this definition by explaining that under conditions of normlessness, rules are either inoperative, such that following the rules will not achieve the goals to which one aspires, or nonexistent, such that the individual can turn to no rule to guide action (p. 155). Isolation as a sociological, rather than physical condition, has to do with an individuals relationship to a community. In its social sense, isolation has to do with the degree to which an individual feels an affinity to their communitys values, beliefs, and norms of behavior. Seeman (1959) wrote of people experiencing isolation as those who . . . assign low reward values to goals or beliefs that are typically highly valued in the given society, (pp. 788789). Thus, from this orientation, one can feel isolated in the middle of a crowd, if they do not authentically share the groups cultural values, beliefs, and/or norms. Estrangement can be thought of as a distinction between an instrumental, rather than authentic involvement in work (Israel, 1971, p. 213). The estranged individual in the workplace is disaffected toward their activities; passion is replaced with apathy, care with indifference. They go through the motions of work without enthusiasm and passion and do not engage in reflective practice. Estranged teachers could be explained as those who are strangers to themselves (Brooks, 2006a; Greene, 1973). Some of the concepts in Seemans empirical domain of alienation have been discussed in the conceptual frameworks of educational studies (e.g., Dworkin, 1987; LeCompte & Dworkin, 1991; Zielinski & Hoy, 1983). However, these studies tend to focus on one or a few of the subconstructs, rather then taking them into account as an interrelated whole. For example, Lortie (1975), Waller (1961), and Zielinski and Hoy (1983) focused on isolation but did not seek to explore other forms of alienation. This has led to several useful insights, but it has not allowed us to understand how subconstructs might exert reciprocal influence on one another, how one form of alienation might lead to another, or how teachers might experience multiple forms of alienation that shift and flow as they conduct their work in various situations and over time. Further, we argue that alienation has been

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misconceptualized in a great deal of educational research as a condition necessarily synonymous with teacher burnout (Brooks, in press), when long lines of sociological research in multiple work contexts suggests that alienation may indeed be a constant and fundamental phenomenon all teachers experience in one way or another, rather than an undesirable condition that befalls an unfortunate few (Fromm, 1941/1965; Israel, 1971; Kaufmann, 1975; Schacht, 1970).

Design of the Study


This study took place at Wintervalley High School, a public school in Owen City.1 At the time of this study Owen City was a rapidly growing suburban city, with a population of approximately 100,000 people, located in the Midwestern United States. The school served students in grades 1012 and had an enrollment of approximately 1,350. The student population was reported as 84.4% White, 9.8% Black, 2.0% Hispanic, 0.4% Native American, and 4.3% Asian (a total minority population of 16.5%), and the teaching population had roughly the same demographic distribution. Empirical data were collected through documents, interviews, and observations. These data were analyzed using an ongoing, inductive, and iterative process that spanned the duration of the study. Data collection lasted 2 academic years. Using semistructured interview techniques (Wolcott, 1975, 1985), the lead researcher spoke with teachers to explore themes germane to the empirical domain of alienation conceptual framework discussed in the previous section (Silverman, 2001). The study includes a total of 42 interviews with Wintervalley teachers. In addition, data included observation notes taken in 68 formal planning periods, committee meetings, classroom instructional sessions, and other school activities (lunches, assemblies, etc.). Data were also collected during informal interactions and observed meetings, from technical documents such as meeting minutes and personnel handbooks, and from nontechnical documents such as personal communiqus (Bogdan & Biklen, 1998). This study employed a combination of purposive and network selection techniques. That is, the lead researcher began the study by observing meetings and ascertaining which teachers might be most willing and able to articulate their experiences of alienation. After choosing a few teachers to approach, network selection began, which was characterized by interviewee recommendation. On completing an interview, the lead researcher asked interviewees to suggest other subjects that might be willing to participate in the study, based on expertise and/or accessibility (Merriam, 1991).

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After meeting a teacher, the lead researcher made use of the connection to gain greater access to different parts of the teacher community. This technique allowed the lead researcher to attend a far greater number of meetings and observed instructional and noninstructional behavior in many naturalistic settings. Powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, isolation, and estrangement were used as a priori analytic open codes. Then, we used microanalytic techniques, which entailed a detailed line-by-line analysis (Strauss & Corbin, 1998, p. 57) that helped to suggest avenues for subsequent code refinement and extension, which guided further data collection. Finally, as codes became theoretically saturated, evidenced by increasingly redundant data, we sought to identify patterns within each code. Throughout the study, the lead researcher conducted member checks with participants to ascertain internal validity of analyses (Silverman, 2001).

Findings
The subsequent presentation of analyses is organized around the five subconstructs in the empirical domain of alienation: powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, isolation, and estrangement. We feel it is important to note at the onset that this presentation is selective rather than exhaustive. These data were chosen to highlight predominant themes in our analyses.

Powerlessness
Wintervalley teachers often spoke of their frustration or bemusement at the difference between the way schoolwide decisions were made and the way they were supposed to be made. Teachers consistently explained that although they had a great deal of freedom to shape the curriculum as a member of their department and to engage students with whatever instructional methods they chose in their classrooms, they had no inputor their input was ignoredon some school policies or programs that directly affected their work. Typical statements describing this form of powerlessness included:
Sometimes potentially important decisions are made for me. We are supposed to be encouraging community involvement and democratic decision-making . . . but our processes [dont] break down communication barriers, they make new ones.

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[Administrators take] the decision out of our hands, even though we know the students best. I honestly feel like there are times that teachers are asked for our opinion or we give our opinion and then the school just goes a completely different way. Anything that goes on outside the classroom, outside these doors, I dont feel I have much control.

Importantly, teachers powerlessness was in relation to many functions into which their input might have been useful and/or important, such as in-building policy interpretation, adoption of large-scale reform initiatives, and appointments to various building and district level committees. However, although teachers often felt powerless with regard to school-level decision making, they commonly asserted that their sense of power increased the closer the work got to instruction in their classrooms. Powerlessness was felt less acutely when teachers discussed their work at the departmental level, and the concept receded further when they discussed their work in the classroom. Some teachers explained this proximal powerlessness in relation to their amount of formal authority in various levels of the school, whereas others suggested that informal dynamics, such as interpersonal relationships and micropolitics, also played an important role in their sense of this form of alienation. As one teacher explained
We have a governance system on paper, and we have another in practice. Im not saying thats always bad, it just makes you feel like your perspective doesnt matter if you arent on the inside. I work here and I have ideas, but there are a select few who have the ability to actually make something happen.

In general, powerlessness increased the further a teacher strayed from their room, and at the school level, informal and nontransparent decision-making processes caused many teachers sense of powerlessness to heighten, which they explained as having a corrosive effective on their own and on collective staff morale.

Meaninglessness
Many Wintervalley teachers explained that although they felt their instructional, curricular, and extracurricular activities (e.g., club sponsorship, coaching, etc.) were important and meaningful aspects of their work, they often regarded their leadership activities as meaningless. Although there was variation among teachers, two patterns emerged in the data. First, teachers

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had a perception that their leadership activities were not related to administrative leadership activities. Teachers explained that they spent a lot of time going through a prescribed inquiry process designed to help them develop solutions for issues that affected the school community. Many schools have such a problem-solution model, which in this case entailed: (a) naming the issue, (b) deciding what data were relevant, (c) creating an instrument, (d) gathering data, (e) analyzing data, (f) developing an explanatory theory, and then (g) crafting and submitting policy recommendations. However, as teachers commonly explained, at any given point in this process, a policy might come from the administration that would change everything or render all their work meaningless. For example, one teacher explained that his team had studied four different issues using the inquiry process. During that time, they had not brought a single study to conclusion before the administration announced a new policy that effectively terminated or made their work irrelevant:
One year we were assigned to study at-risk students. We were supposed to define who they were and then ultimately make recommendations about how to improve the services we provide. After a few months we had gotten to the point where we were deciding what data was relevant and then at one of the meetings an Assistant Principal showed up and told us that we had defined at-risk incorrectly and that we would need to start over. It was frustrating and it happens all the time.

As with powerlessness, teachers explained that they felt a heightened sense of meaninglessness when they were involved with reform activity outside of their classrooms and their departments. As they became involved in whole-school reform, they suggested that the work was, as several teachers said, a waste of time. It is important to contrast this attitude to those that teachers had toward meaninglessness inside the classroom, which was almost entirely absent for most teachers. Indeed, many teachers sympathized with the teacher quoted above and explained that they came to see the events that happened outside of instructionally related issues within his purview as meaningless. Shared governance structures and other reform activities were not generally enjoined with enthusiasm. They were instead distractions that did little to advance students learning. Although many teachers saw great potential and retained hope that their work outside the classroom might eventually be recognized and valued, they overwhelmingly described the participation as meaningless.

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Normlessness
Wintervalley teachers spent an enormous amount of time discussing shared visions, crafting community value statements, reworking missions, setting goals, and the like. To some extent this activity was instituted by the schools principal, and in other cases it was required by accreditation standards or district protocol. As such, there is ongoing conversation at Wintervalley about values. Questions like: What do we stand for? or Is this what Wintervalley means? were popular refrains in meetings. Yet, for all this interest in principle and reflective practice, questions were nearly always addressed to and answered by a weas a collective and abstract entity. Individual philosophies or beliefs were seldom, if ever, the focus of a conversation. Moreover, when talk of philosophy or principle was central, it was usually only a starting place and not a destination: Write down what you believe and well go from there was a common initial prompt for meetings. The overwhelming sentiment was captured well by a teacher in one meeting: Well, we have to agree on a philosophy before we can continue. That is, teachers seemed compelled or predisposed to reach agreement as a precondition of discussions; it was rarely acceptable to disagree in meetings, and to take such a position openly was generally seen as contentious or arrogant. One teacher suggested these collectivist dynamics as he put it, were in conflict with basic values of many high school teachers:
[High school] teachers are not collaborative creatures. Generally speaking, a lot of people who go into teaching are attracted to it for exactly the opposite reason: they have their own classroom, their own students, and their own stuff. They are a specialist in their school. Even if that attitudes not there on a conscious level, its there a lot of the time. Thats ironic, considering that the move is toward more teams, more collaboration, more communitythats of course not all bad, but it comes with a pricemany people are forced to go against their nature.

Certainly, some teachers disagreed with this statement, instead suggesting that they enjoyed collaboration, especially among their content-area peers. However, a great deal of data corroborated the perception that social norms in the teacher community were marked as much by a plurality of perspective as by agreement. Interestingly, in keeping with previously discussed themes, social norms were quite clear and consistent at the classroom level, more in conflict at the departmental level, and most pronounced when considered as

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a whole school. Again, teachers felt that social norms were most relevant and clear in their classrooms and quite confusing and conflicted at the school level.

Isolation
One teacher explained teachers sense of isolation through an intriguing metaphor:
Many of us are the ostrich. We put our heads in the ground. We shut the door on our domain. And the students are my kids. We are trying to do the best job we can, and rather than face the politicking within the teacher communities and between our communities and the administration, the teachers, the students, and the parents, you face certain fights that you think are worth the fight and then the rest sometimes you just ignore; because it takes so much time and energy and you have only so much time and energy for what you do.

Although the particular object of this teachers ire was politics, many other teachers expressed distaste for various other aspects of their professional life: being kept after school for meetings, paperwork, salary, time demands placed on coaches, scarce resources, and so on. Although teacher isolation is usually conceived as negative, to many teachers, the idea that they could step away from the aspects of the job they did not enjoy, if only for instructional periodsand achieve some form of closed-door autonomywas alluring, desirable, and quite easy to achieve. In a school the size of Wintervalley, achieving closed-door autonomy in this fashion was always a possibility. Some teachers, especially veterans, went entire school years without being observed once by the principal, they could take their lunches alone in their classrooms, and they could plan their arrival and departures at the building so as to create a few moments of solitude. Paradoxically, some teachers did not come to feel this way about isolation when they began to teach at the school. Several teachers had come to use isolation as a coping strategy only after a disappointment with the school community. This teachers explanation was typical of many veteran teachers perspectives:
Being a teacher is like being a member of a wonderful church. People have a faith, they are there for a common purpose. But when you get active in your church you see it a different way. You get to the politics of it, and then it almost ruins your faith. Its kind of the same way with teaching. I love my students, I love what I do, but I basically want to shut the door as soon as I see some

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kind of politics involved because it just seems to remove so much from what youre trying to do.

Analyses also suggested that teacher isolation was the result of three interrelated factors: size, proximity to colleagues, and division delineations. The size and layout of the building facilitated teachers sense of isolation in that they simply could not get around to certain areas in an expedient manner. Some teachers explained that they had not visited certain wings of the building in years. Proximity was also important in that teachers could not find the time to meet with peers with whom they might otherwise interact. For example, the mathematics division was physically isolated, located in a remote part of the schools labyrinthine basement. As one teacher explained
Were all down herethe math divisionpeople dont even know we exist. Some of the parents and kids not involved with our classes dont even know there is a basement. They take a tour of the school and dont even make it down here. I do think we are isolated. That has been both bad and good; we are able to focus on ourselves, but we arent part of the whole school community.

In addition to physical isolation, the social structures in the building were significantly affected by school policies and governance structures that generally kept teachers professionally siloed. The following teachers quotation was typical of many teachers positive interpretation of what was a growing issue for all to consider:
I think were really struggling now that we are getting bigger; with trying to find a way to keep everybody connected in some way. Thats both at the school level and in the [department]. I understand how some teachers feel isolatedespecially the young onesthey dont really see anybody other than us [peers in adjacent classrooms] and when they pass other teachers in the hallways they dont know their names. They might have a lot in common and not know each other. Its too bad.

Estrangement
As one might expect, teachers had disparate visions of what an ideal school might look like. However, teachers sang in unison with respect to two aspects of Wintervalley life: (a) that administrators in the school were generally good people but were focused on abstract ideas like missions, visions, and long-term change models rather than on-the-ground and (b) that discussions of philosophic issues that occurred outside departmental boundaries

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were generally settled by administrators a priori and ultimately had little bearing on what was happening in the classroom. As one teacher suggested, the faculty is floating. Teachers did not agree with the espoused philosophy of the school, en toto, and did not feel their voices were part of the conversation that affected it in a conceptual or operational sense. Moreover, teachers were not encouraged to explore their own visions, missions, commitments or principles. This is estrangementthe feeling of separation from important things with which one should feel a strong connection. Teachers explained that what was once familiar and desirable, discussions of educational pedagogy and working toward those visions, was now alien. To illustrate teacher estrangement, we present the following two vignettes, which are in some ways typical of teacher perceptions, but were chosen ultimately because they delved deeper into this alienation subconstruct:

Teacher #1
You dont connect with the kids by what you teach. Half of them hate what you teach. My vision of the good school is one where you develop those interpersonal, emotional relationships; a school where no one is afraid to express themselves. A school where you have a lot of work, but its work you want to doand it all helps the kids. Thats whats important. Its weird, but Im not sure I know how that would look. Ive never seen it. Maybe no one has. But thats neither here nor there; lets talk about this school. We have to find a balance between all these reform things we have going on and whats really importantwhich is the kids in the classroom. Thats the bottom line and increasingly we are losing that focus. We want to be better at instructing them, and this, that and the other. We want to connect with them. Every teacher would say that. But if you have to constantly be working on [noninstructional issues and committees], on all his other stuff its harder to make those connections. Actually, it goes against our [mission]most of what we do. I dont know the exact quote, but it says something about keeping it simple, trying to do a few things well; we do the opposite. Hell, none of those things mean a thing a bunch of words on paper. Theres another thing in there, about how teachers shouldnt be asked to do all the work, that the burden should be shared; what a joke. And those are just issues in school; theres another dimension. When youre tired, you dont come back after school and see what is most important to some of these kids: see their basketball game, chaperone a prom, sponsor a club. Of course people do those things, and they are important some of those things are more important than anything I do in classbut I cant

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get out to meet the students that way, even though I recognize how important it all is. What would be the cost of running around like that? You sacrifice the rest of your life. Its tough to do that. Ive done it. Lots of teachers have. Look at some veterans, theyre just shellsburned out. You run out of energy daily but also over years. You just run out of time and the desire to be around here. Sometimes I cant remember why I became a teacher.

Teacher #2
For teachers, the professional and the private become blurred. Actually, at the very beginning, I had probably been here for six or seven yearsI cant put my finger on when or certainly howthat became less of an issue for me. I guess I just came over to the dark side and just let those wars gowhich is not altogether a bright thing to do. I suffered for it. My husband suffered, too. I mean, we hear a lot about letting the job consume you, but my husband is a professional man, hes upper level management with one of the companies here in town. Hes in the business out of necessity. Hes very successful at it, has a real aptitude for it, but he isnt happy. Hes been there for going in twenty years and hes never been excited about his work. Hes a workaholic and that has meant a lot of money, but no passion. Our situations are exactly opposite; I make no money but love my job. Well, I love teaching, Im not sure I love the job. I struggled to maintain a balance between my two lives for a long time; the one with him and the other at Wintervalley. Thats a painful process. Im a guilt driven personality, so I was always guilty about somethingshortchanging him or shortchanging the kidsand it wears on you. I kind of just, somewhere, let it go. Looking back on it, I used to be almost totally absorbed in the job. Our son got into junior high school and sort of closed the door on his life with us and there werent a lot of breaks since my husband was working night and day and raced bicycles on top of that! We all worked hard; when I look at my son I think we worked too hard. When my husband was not working or out-of-town traveling as part of his job, he was in the gym or away competing or things like that. My personal interests in terms of content dovetailed into teaching already, so part of me was satisfiedbut in my weaker moments I wonder what Ive done. Im 53 now and have been at this job a long time. It gets harder all the time because you learn more about what you ought to be doing and about what really works and as you try to find ways to make that happen, the one thing that I have found is that there arent any gimmicks or tricks or magic

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that make it easier. You do it better or try to do it better, but there is always something in the way, in teaching and in life. So here I am, over fifty years old trying to get better at teaching but working in a school of distractions, letting it take a toll on my family. Estrangement? Of course I feel that way . . . alienated.

Discussion
To some extent, this studys findings are in line with researchers at the Institute for Educational Leadership (2001), who suggested:
It is readily apparent that, except in unusual cases, the basic decisions that affect the work lives of teachers, as well as the performance of their students, come from on high, from top-down leadership in its most pristine form. In most settings, teachers have little or no say in scheduling, class placement, how specialists are assigned, decisions on hiring new teachers, and, perhaps most telling at ground level, the preparation of budgets and materials. This is not the stuff of professionalism. (p. 10)

One of the contributions of this study is that it suggests that the sociological cost, in terms of alienation, extends beyond work life and influence teachers lives en toto. In addition, our exploration of teacher alienation prompted us to draw six points for discussion. The first two of these focus on conceptual issues relevant to the study of teacher alienation and educational reform and the latter four attend to concrete issues germane to dayto-day teaching in schools. First, we discovered that using Seemans (1959) conceptual framework left us with a great deal of interpretative ambiguity. Although we were able to explore themes in each subconstruct within the empirical domain of alienation, we felt that it was difficult to separate the domains as exclusive empirical constructs. Further research is needed to help refine our conceptual understanding of each of these forms of alienation and to help distinguish between say, estrangement and normlessness, which were at times difficult to delineate. This may entail an extension of Seemans domain to include new forms of alienation specific to teaching and probably a concurrent deep exploration into each subconstruct in and of itself, similar to Zielinski and Hoys (1983) focused exploration of isolation. Second, we recognize that subconstructs of the empirical domain themselves are fluid. Teachers at Wintervalley experienced alienation in different ways over time and in varying manners from situation to situation. As such,

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it seems appropriate to further explore the possibility that alienation is not an either/or propositionit is not an issue of whether or not teachers experience alienation, but rather an issue of how their alienation evolves and changes as they engage in different activities. For example, teachers in this study experienced powerlessness as they worked as a member of a committee in which they felt their perspectives were marginalized but felt tremendously empowered when developing their syllabi, instructing students, or working with their peers on course sequences within a department. Although there was some variation among participants, this study showed that alienation is, to some degree, a matter of proximity to the classroom and that teachers feel that their experiences in the classroom are most authentic, diminish at the departmental level, and are even more diluted at the whole-school level (Brooks, 2006b). Third, in terms of implications for day-to-day practice for teachers, administrators, and policy makers our research suggested that each teacher and school has their own history, definition, and collective understanding of reform. It is important for policy makers to understand that new initiatives are interpreted through both an intensely personal and a collective, in situ lens. There is no clean slate as a new initiative is launched (Brooks, 2006a; Newmann & Wehlage, 1995; Newmann, Smith, Allensworth, & Bryk, 2001). This suggests that school reforms might not be transportable/transferable from one school to another, regardless of whether or not they are scientifically based (English & Furman, 2006; Murphy & Datnow, 2003), in part because fluid social dynamics profoundly influence their implementation and in part because teachers interpret new reforms in light of old reforms (Brooks, Scribner, & Eferakorho, 2004). Fourth, it seems clear that at this particular school, reforms were formal, informal, and idiosyncratic all at once. School reformers would do well to note that what they envision at an abstract, macrolevel is not always implemented in the way they envision, nor does it necessarily attend to what they seek to address. That is not to say that negative teachers thwart implementation, but that teachers who feel marginalized in the implementation process are less likely to buy into initiatives (Murphy & Datnow, 2003; Newmann & Wehlage, 1995; Spillane, 2006). Fifth, teachers at Wintervalley suggested that there was simply too much going on and that they received too little administrative support in their efforts to implement the myriad reforms in which the school was ostensibly involved. This finding is consistent with previous research that asserts that school reforms must not be layered one on top of another (Brooks, 2006b; Hess, 2004; Newmann et al., 2001) and should instead be implemented in a manner

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that allows for a reevaluation and streamlining of protocols and practices that complicate the work. Finally, this research suggested that if teachers sense of alienation is heightened by a school reform, rather than diminished, their extant sense of alienation will be exacerbated and prompt them to disengage from the initiative. Although this assertion may seem obvious, it calls into question the common practice of top-down policy making and adoption of large-scale reforms. Is there room for teachers perspectives, at multiple levels of each school site, in the work of reforming education, or are teachers to remain marginalized and alienated subordinates who are expected to implement someone elses vision? This basic question is at the heart of this research and is one that all policy makers, at the federal, state, district, and building levels should consider, lest they allow teachers to tremble in the space between a vision of perfect schooling they are meant to attain and a reality that does not allow them to conduct the work in an authentic manner.

Note
1. Wintervalley High School and Owen City are pseudonyms, as are all names of teachers and administrators in this article.

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Jeffrey S. Brooks is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies at Florida State University. His research focuses on socio-cultural and ethical dynamics of educational leadership practice and preparation. His work has appeared in the Journal of School Leadership, the Journal of Educational Administration, and the International Electronic Journal of Leadership for Learning. He is author of the book, The Dark Side of School Reform: Teaching in the Space between Reality and Utopia (2006, Rowman & Littlefield Education), a full-length study of teacher alienation. Roxanne M. Hughes is a doctoral student in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies at Florida State University. Her research interests include female students persistence in science education and science careers. Melanie C. Brooks is a doctoral student in International Education with the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies at The Florida State University. Her research interests include international education, sociology of education, library development as a crisis response, and transnational studies of religion and education with an emphasis on conversion from Christianity to Islam.

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