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Emotions: More Than A “Feeling”

by Mary Louise Gomez & Amy Johnson Lachuk - 2019

What are emotions; and how do prospective and practicing teachers’ frame and understand them? How may teachers understand their own identities and those of their students as composed of intersectional dimensions of race, ethnicity, social class, gender, language background, abilities, and sexual orientation? What outcomes may occur as a result of these understandings? How may teacher educators respond when faced with these interpretations? Addressing these questions, we interrogate how emotions experienced by teachers influence how we see ourselves—our effectiveness; our relationships with students and families; and the curricula, pedagogies, and assessments we employ.

We draw on our own experiences as teacher educators, as well as extant research, to explore answers to these questions. Studies across diverse fields indicate that emotions are more than feelings or uncontrollable responses to situations; rather, they are socially and culturally constructed and agreed upon among people. As teacher educators, what intrigues us most about this research on emotion are the implications it has for creating culturally responsive and socially just teachers—teachers who are able to effectively teach youth who come from racial, cultural, class, and linguistic backgrounds different from their own.

We appeal to scholars from various traditions—philosophy (Andrews, 2014; Boler, 1999; Levinas, 1972; Nussbaum, 2001), literature (Morrison, 2017), cultural theory (Ahmed, 2014, 2012), composition and rhetoric (Micciche, 2007), neuroscience (Feldman Barrett, 2017; Sapolsky, 2017), narrative inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000), and teacher education (Britzman, 2003)—to question and elaborate what the term “others” may mean to teachers. Our twin goals are to demonstrate how often prospective and practicing teachers employ dichotomies of race, ethnicity, social class, language background/s, ability, and sexual orientation, among other dimensions of identity, to distinguish themselves from students and their families, and to begin exploring how teacher educators may provide alternatives to such imposed views.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 121 Number 13, 2019, p. 1-16
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22961, Date Accessed: 9/19/2021 10:39:28 PM

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About the Author
  • Mary Louise Gomez
    University of Wisconsin–Madison
    E-mail Author
    MARY LOUISE GOMEZ is Professor of Literacy Studies and Teacher Education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison where she has served on the faculty of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction for over 30 years. Her research focuses on how prospective and practicing teachers learn to teach students who are unlike themselves in various aspects of their identities, including race, ethnicity, language background, sexual orientation, gender, and social class. She draws on methods of narrative inquiry and life history to generate, gather, and analyze her data.
  • Amy Lachuk
    Independent Scholar
    E-mail Author
    AMY JOHNSON LACHUK is an award-winning scholar, writer, and educational consultant who was most recently an Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Hunter College, City University of New York. Amy holds degrees in Curriculum and Instruction (MS, PhD) and English (BS) from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She spent three years teaching young children in urban school districts. She has received the Narrative Research SIG Early Career Research Award (2011, American Educational Research Association), the Promising Research Award (2008, National Council of Teachers of English), the J. Michael Parker Award (2007, National Reading Conference), the College of Education Early Career Research Award (2009, University of South Carolina), and the Nila Banton Smith Research Dissemination grant (2009, International Reading Association). She has published articles in journals including Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, English Education, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, Journal of Teacher Education, Middle School Journal, The Reading Teacher, Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, Teaching and Teacher Education, and the Yearbook of the National Reading Conference.
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