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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Karen Cioffi Reviews Study on Teaching in Chicago

Title: When Teachers Talk
Author: Rosalyn S. Schnall
Publisher: Goldenring Publishing, LLC
ISBN: 978-0-578-00563-8

Reviewed by Karen Cioffi for

Anyone who works in, or has worked in the public school system will love When Teachers Talk. While I am not a teacher myself, I have a number of family members and friends who are. This book tells it like it is. It reflects the whispers and thoughts of thousands of teachers across the country.

Schnall, a retired teacher with 35 years experience with the Chicago Public School System, realizes our education system is lacking in many areas, including effective and just management of teachers and children. Schnall rose to the occasion and decided to create a survey of teachers within the Chicago system. She focused on principal abuse of teachers.

When Teachers Talk is a compilation of 500 interviews that Schnall conducted with Chicago public school teachers. It covers overt abuse of teachers; the quality of education’s decline; lack of administrative support for teachers; politics and the school system; how the children suffer; teacher attrition; what good teachers feel about the profession; and it touches on those principals who actually do their jobs with humanity, fairness, and proficiency.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the teachers involved in the survey all wanted and needed to make sure their responses would be anonymous. This was for fear of reprisal from their principals.

When Teachers Talk reveals that it is apparent there is a crisis in the school systems across America. The majority of teachers involved worked under stressful and at times unbearable conditions due to their principals’ abuse. There were some who actually left schools because of the principals’ actions. Some ended up sick from the stress. And, there were those who knew teachers who just up and left the profession as a direct result of principal abuse.

Along with the abuse teachers suffer at the hand of principals is the lack of support from administration and the teachers’ union. Many of the teachers voiced concern that their principals do not support them when it comes to issues with the children or their parents. Knowing a number of teachers, this is a very common complaint. Some teachers work in dangerous areas, and each year it seems the problem and uncontrollable children increase. It’s essential that teachers know the administration is there to support them.

Schnall includes a random survey and interview of ten additional teachers from the largest school systems across the country. This small sample reflects the larger Chicago study. She also includes a section that provides the teachers an opportunity to suggest solutions to this widespread problem.

When Teachers Talk is an enlightening and sobering read. It makes clear our education system is in dire need of repair. I recommend this book; I think it’s vital that everyone is aware of what’s going on and insists on change.

About the author:
Rosalyn Schnall holds a Bachelor of Education Degree, and holds additional Certification in Early Childhood Education. She completed thirty hours of Graduate work at Loyola University of Chicago, Graduate School of Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, which included a course in “Survey Research Methodology.”

About the Reviewer:
Karen Cioffi is a published author, writer-for-hire, and freelance writer. You can learn more about Karen at And, if you sign up for her free newsletter at, you’ll get a free e-book on writing and marketing.

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Karen Cioffi said...

Hi, Carolyn,

Just stopping by. I really enjoyed this book!

Thanks for posting my review.

kathy stemke said...

Great review Karen. As a retired teacher I would be very interested in this book.

Kristi Bernard said...

I would love to read this book. When I was in college I wanted to teach, but then while I was doing my coordination program, what the teachers dealt with in regards to the parents was horrible. I want to THANK all of the teachers I had in my life they were wonderful!

Mayra Calvani said...

Wonderful review, Karen! This sounds like a great book for teachers.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

This book sounds interesting. I'm a retired teacher who was very fortunate to work with teachers and principals that were great. Perhaps being a small school system is the difference. I have heard, however, that in the past few years our schools are not as good as they once were. Sad, I think.

Wonderful review.


Karen Cioffi said...

Beverly, it does depend on where you teach. My daughter is in NYC and teaches 4th grade. A child in her class recently told other students she wants to kill my daughter. (This is not the only incident of children vocalizing their wishes to kill teachers in this school). Even coming from a nine year old, it's unnerving.

The administration wants it hushed up. The consequences for the child? Being taken out of my daughter's room for ONE DAY!

This is why our society is heading in the direction it is. No real consequences for one's actions.

What a sorry state of affairs.

Helena Harper said...

This is a great review, Karen, and having taught for 20 years in the school system in the UK, I resonate with everything that the teachers are saying here. It's not just in the US that there is abuse of teachers by principals and lack of support when it comes to dealing with parents. It is indeed a sorry state of affairs.

Helena Harper, Author of "It's a Teacher's Life...!"