Term of Award

Fall 2021

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


College of Education

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

John Weaver

Committee Member 2

Peggy Shannon-Baker

Non-Voting Committee Member

Holley Roberts


This study explores how teachers maintain their passion and compassion for teaching in spite of the impact of work-related challenges and subsequent obstacles upon their personal and professional lives. While much research has been conducted into teacher stress, very little has been done to connect the effects of stress on teachers’ health and passions for teaching. Abby, Nick, Passion, and Anna, four elementary school teachers from different areas, counties, schools, and school districts in the State of Georgia, participated in the study. Theoretically, I draw upon an array of works such as teaching towards freedom (Ayers, 2004, 2010, 2016), teachers as intellectuals (Giroux, 1988a, 1988b; Giroux & McLaren, 1988), the courage to teach (Palmer, 2007), when teachers face themselves (Jersild, 1955), emotions of teacher stress (Carlyle & Woods, 2002), why we teach now (Nieto, 2003, 2008, 2014), and why great teachers quit (Farber, 2010). I also draw upon the literature that explores emotions as a response (Lazarus & Lazarus, 1994; Frijda & Mesquita, 1998; Day, 2004), race and education (Love, 2019), gender and education (McGrath, Bhana, Van Bergen, & Moosa, 2019), COVID-19: A new challenge (Carvalho & Hares, 2020), the effects of stress (Lazarus, Deese, & Osler, 1952; Selye, 1956; Lazarus and Lazarus, 1994), teachers and stress (Figley, 1995; Travers and Cooper, 1996), understanding passion (R. Vallerand, personal communication, July 1, 2016, September 3, 2018), and teaching with passion (Hargreaves, 1998; Day, 2004; Phelps & Benson, 2012). Methodologically drawing upon narrative inquiry (Connelly & Clandinin, 1990; He, 1999, 2003, 2021a; Clandinin & Connelly, 2000; Phillion & He, 2008; Clandinin & Caine, 2016; Sharma & Phillion, 2021), I gather the stories from my participants through semi-structured participant interviews, informal conversations, phone and e-mail communications relevant to the resulting effects of job challenges on their professional and personal lives. Five findings have emerged from my research. Teachers remain passionate about teaching when they build personal and working relationships with their students. Teachers remain passionate about teaching when they work in a positive school environment where teachers, administrators, staff, parents, and community members support one another. Teachers remain passionate about teaching when they maintain a healthy lifestyle and find ways to reduce their stress. Teachers remain passionate and relentless when they continue to learn and grow and further support their students even in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic. Teachers would remain in the classroom for longer periods of time if they felt supported, heard, and cared about with the intent to make a difference in the lives of children, which was the reason why they chose to teach. Listening to and learning from the stories from my participants help dive into the emotional, intellectual, moral, and physical aspects of teaching to sustain passion for teaching (e.g., Ayers, 2004, 2016a, b; He, 2010, 2018, 2021; Nieto, 2003, 2008; Palmer, 2007; Schubert, 2009) to invigorate the teaching profession in an era of fear, injustice, and political uncertainty.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material