“What Do I Feel? Who Am I?”: Exploring Secondary School EFL Student Teachers’ Emotion Labor in Identity Construction from a Post-Structuralist Perspective

Panpan Zhang



This study examined the emotion labor of student teachers in Chinese secondary schools and explored how they negotiated and constructed their teacher identities, with Zembylas’ model of three levels of teacher emotions (intrapersonal, interpersonal, and intergroup levels) as the analytical framework. The primary data was collected through semi-structured in-depth interviews with three student teachers who served as interns for fifteen weeks. To ensure data triangulation, emotional diaries, student focus group interviews, classroom observations and relevant documents were also gathered as supplementary data. Findings revealed the inextricably interwoven relationship between teacher emotion labor and identity. Firstly, student teachers’ confusion about their identity emerged partly due to their student-teacher equal educational philosophy. Secondly, the prerequisite for natural expressions of emotions is the mutual trust among both parties. Lastly, self-reflections evoked by emotion labor could facilitate student teachers’ identity formation and transformation. The implications derived are significant for stakeholders in the field of teacher education.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/eltls.v5n4p235


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