Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Urban Education


Konstantinos Alexakos

Committee Members

Kenneth Tobin

Beth Ferholt

Subject Categories



autoethnography, emotions, education, teacher | researcher, heuristics


The essential focus of this dissertation is the exploration of emotions in response to stressors that may emerge as preservice teachers interact in teaching and learning spaces. My experiences as a teacher and teacher-educator | researcher have influenced an interest in presenting autoethnographical studies. In each autoethnography, I explicate my personal journey in exploring emotional responses with preservice teachers during teacher preparation courses.

I describe this work as an autoethnography for two reasons. First, to avoid the false claim that my research is an objective approach to investigating emotions. Second, to illuminate the intra- and interpersonal dialectic that is embedded in teacher-educator | research. More specifically, the methods and methodologies included throughout my teacher-educator | research are based on how I continuously interpret and reinterpret my past and present emotional experiences and transform practices in relation to the preservice teachers and research colleagues I interact with.

Throughout this research, I (teacher-educator | researcher) observe what is happening and why through analyzing video-recorded discussions and excerpts from participants’ (preservice teachers and I) heuristic responses and free writes. Heuristics and free writes serve as reflexive self-reporting tools that provide opportunities for both preservice teachers and myself to become more aware of and navigate our emotional responses during interactions within teaching and learning spaces. What is happening and why it is happening, are then analyzed through my interpretations of a bricolage of theoretical frameworks. Interactions with research colleagues throughout the doctoral program and the preservice teachers I work with also influenced my analysis. Concomitantly, the authentic inquiry framework is ingrained in my analysis. I constantly refine the research based on my interactions to benefit the needs and interests of all participants involved in the research.

My research is narrated through six distinct chapters that formulate my dissertation. Each chapter reveals a part of my journey as a teacher-educator | researcher. Chapter One and Six of this dissertation provides the reader with insight into how I view the world (ontology); how knowledge is defined based on the influences of my interactions within the world (epistemology) and the shifts in practices made based on what I value (axiology) in teaching and learning. Chapter Two focuses on my beginning theoretical understandings of engaging in teacher research. Chapter Three illuminates a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to engaging in teacher-educator | research. A description of what was noticed while exploring emotional responses in connection to math teaching and learning, and how preservice teachers and I investigate why it is happening is provided. Chapter Four is an account of how I navigated my emotional responses and the responses of others while inviting two preservice teachers into a small group discussion about heuristics. Chapter Five features an exploration of how preservice teachers and I developed our own understandings of empathy and how we expressed empathy to the self and others in teaching and learning spaces. Embedded in each chapter is the exploration of critical issues, such as power relations and stigmas that are navigated during interactions in the college classroom as well as through self-reflections from the teacher-educator and preservice teachers.

Lastly, I hope that reading each chapter of the dissertation will serve as a heuristic as well. Readers are encouraged to become more aware of and transform, if necessary, some of their own emotional experiences while reading these brief narratives from pre-service teachers and the teacher-educator. Readers will find some chapters more or less salient to their practices, based on their experiences and values. Nevertheless, sharing the explorations preservice teachers and I engaged in, reveals the importance of taking a closer look at the impact emotional experiences have on teaching and learning.

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