This year-long qualitative study follows a new teacher, who had self-identified as a ‘positive person’, through her first year in the classroom to explore the ways in which she maintained that disposition in the face of the difficulties that the work of teaching entails.
Using a lens of emotion states and traits, we catalogued several different strategies this teacher used to return to her ‘positive’ emotion trait.
A close examination of the data through I-Poems revealed that the very strategies she used were a type of avoidance from situations that produced uncomfortable emotion states.
This avoidance contributed to a false sense of positivity, a dissonant between the teacher’s reported experiences and her perceived sense of self, gradually leading to burnout.
The focus on maintaining her desired emotion trait distracted from the need to process her emotional experiences to improve her practice.
Implications for teaching and teacher education are discussed.