EMOTIONS AND COPING IN THE CONTEXT OF TEACHING: REFLECTIONS OF PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS
Briody, Jill Margaret
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Teaching is an emotional roller coaster. Not enough pre-service teachers are prepared for the daily barrage of emotions they will experience when they enter the professional world or for the critical need they will have to effectively manage those emotions. Limited awareness of the role of emotions and management thereof may lead to reduced effectiveness in the classroom and higher rates of burnout. The current mixed methods study explored how pre-service teachers from an elementary education undergraduate program at a large Mid-Atlantic public University think about their emotions and the management of those emotions in the context of teaching. Emotions are a difficult construct to accurately capture and research often relies on self-report measures to do so. In addition to self-report measures, this study employed narratives, about significant teaching experiences to examine more deeply pre-service teachers’ emotions, the situations that elicit those emotions, and the management of those emotions through coping. Results indicated that pre-service teachers reflect on a range of emotions, with 95% mentioning negative emotions when writing about a classroom experience and 96% mentioning positive emotions. The most frequently used category of emotion words was “fear,” by almost 70% of participants. Furthermore, almost 60% of pre-service teachers agreed that they regularly experience waves of strong feelings about their teaching experience, when responding to items on the Impact of Event Scale-Adapted. Yet almost 60% of pre-service teachers described coping that was coded as unrealistic or non-coping in at least one of their narratives. While almost all pre-service teachers included emotions in writing about significant teaching experiences, very few reported emotions or coping as a concern when asked explicitly what they were worried about. Among the situations that elicited the most negative emotions and/or were reported as most worrisome were the shift in responsibility from mentor teacher to pre-service teacher, lesson planning, time management, individual student social-emotional well-being, and whole class behavior/classroom management. The current study illustrated the importance of using multiple methods to capture the complexities of multifaceted constructs like emotions and coping. Implications for pre-service teachers, educator preparation programs, and researchers are discussed.