Faculty Emotions: A Self-study of Teacher Educators

Apr. 10, 2010

Source: Studying Teacher Education, Volume 6, Issue 1 (April 2010), p. 95–111.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This self-study explored the role of emotions in teacher education classrooms, with particular attention to the connections between faculty, student, and institutional cultures.


Five faculty members participated in this self-study. Three of authors have considerable K-12 school experience, while two have most of their experience in higher education. Two are tenured; three are tenure track. Four of the authors teach about issues related to social and cultural diversity and one teaches general methods courses.

Furthermore, the authors come from diverse backgrounds of race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation, while their students are largely White, female, Christian and heterosexual. The group includes males, females, African American, Indian, Caucasians, Christians, Muslim and Baha'i, gay and heterosexual.

This study was guided by a social constructivist paradigm and self-study methodology.
Qualitative data included transcripts of group discussions, teaching evaluations, and personal reflections.


The analysis revealed that a number of the contradictory demands experienced by group members stemmed from two areas: personal characteristics and contextual characteristics.

Personal Characteristics
Three tensions related to personal characteristics:
Self-perception: Congruence or difference;
Self-presentation: Masking or disclosure; and
Role perception: Affective or cognitive.
Each revealed a challenge to creating effective and satisfying relationships with students.

Contextual Characteristics
The following aspects of the authors’ context revealed that deeper institutional tensions and professional contradictions had an unequal impact on professors, depending upon their status or affiliation.

Three aspects related to contextual characteristics:
Subject Taught: Affirming or provocative;
Student Feedback: Positive or critical; and
Institutional Use of Feedback: Supportive or punitive.


The authors see five implications for teacher education.
Differences in Emotional Labor
The findings draw attention to the difficulties minority faculty face in experiencing and managing emotions such as vulnerability and disequilibrium.

Faculty Diversity and Retention
Although the negative consequences of confronting difference are stressful for the institution as well as for faculty, failing to do so may be a high price to pay in the name of classroom and institutional harmony.

Identity Development of Teacher Educator
The emotions of the teacher play an important role in this identity formation.

Professional Development of our Students
This study draws attention to the need to talk with the students about negotiating cross-cultural barriers and the difficulties they may also face (Phelan, Davidson, & Yu, 1993). We need to provide opportunities for analyzing situations that provoke intense emotions, perhaps through the use of case studies and increased field experience.

Collegial Understanding
This self-study shows the need for faculty to talk with colleagues about how to bring about social justice across different cultures. Shared discussion can help us develop common values and principles and become the starting point for collective action.


The authors believe that this study adds to the conversation about faculty emotions and diversity in teacher education, especially its emphases on improvement, collegiality, reframing assumptions, and interrogating conclusions.

Phelan, P. , Davidson, A. L. and Yu, H. C. Phelan, P. and Davidson, A. L. (eds) (1993) Students' multiple worlds: Navigating the borders of family, peer and school culture. Renegotiating cultural diversity in American schools pp. 52-88. Teachers College Press, New York

Updated: Jun. 22, 2010