This research examines the role of emotional labor in shaping elementary school teachers' identities. The job of an elementary school teacher is fundamental within a progressive society because these teachers prepare their students to be active members of society by teaching them skills and caring for them beyond the academic realm. Additionally, the current literature and theories on emotional labor and identity reflect how central emotions are in elementary school teachers' careers. I conducted a qualitative study through semi-structured interviews with 12 elementary school teachers from around southwestern Connecticut and northeast Ohio. Participants included preservice teachers, new active teachers, active experienced teachers and retired teachers. The interviews found teachers' moral responsibility to their students, the complexities of separating personal and professional lives, and the rewards of teachers’ dedication. The research finds that despite the challenges that accompany emotional labor, it can positively impact elementary school teachers’ identities. The findings prompt further research and regard for teachers' health. I recommend schools foster more teacher communities so teachers have an emotional support system at work.


Tierney, Thomas


Sociology and Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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