Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Urban Education


Konstantinos Alexakos

Committee Members

Kenneth Tobin

Beth Ferholt

Subject Categories

Early Childhood Education | Elementary Education and Teaching | Higher Education | Higher Education and Teaching


Early childhood teacher education, pandemic, emergent research


This work investigates the emergent nature of research on emotions and wellness in early childhood education and in life. The research discussed in this thesis was emergent and contingent. Through my experiences as an educator, student, mother, human being living through a pandemic, and daughter, I embraced opportunities for research in various fields of my life.

I explore teaching research to early childhood teachers who also became my coresearchers in a project that explores our roles of being teachers | researchers. Together, using a hermeneutic-phenomenological approach, we learn about the experiences of those participating in the research projects, both individually and as a collective.

Using a heuristic on doing research with my early childhood teachers, I address the internalized prejudice (by teachers and non-teachers alike) that exists in our society against early childhood teachers. In a narrative tale where I explore memories, loss, the empty nest, and embodied emotions of letting go of my children as they grow up. The methodologies I use to explore these issues are arts-based research, hermeneutic phenomenology, and heuristics; specifically use of images as a heuristic. I explore memories not as a thing of the past, but as an active part of becoming, in the present and future. I look at the experiences and complexities of living through the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020I address the COVID-19 pandemic as a historical event that transforms numerous structures on multiple levels for each individual involved in the study. Through graduate students’ narratives, as well as my own, I aim to demonstrate what our emotions and experiences were during this global pandemic.

Lastly, I look at the experiences and complexities of being in a PhD program and the work I have done to complete my degree as I reflect on my journey as a student, educator, mother, daughter, and human being.