Kindergarten teachers’ emotions and ethical dilemmas at work in the time of COVID-19

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Earlier work has been well-documented how emotional of teaching connecting with professionalism and affected by moral purpose of teachers, cultures, and contexts (Day & Qing, 2009; O’ Connor, 2008). However, there is a missing link to explore how teachers interpret emotional experiences from ethical dilemmas encountered at work. Using social constructivist perspective, this study argues that emotional experiences are conditioned by the contexts in which social interactions with students, parents and other colleagues take place (Lasky, 2005; Oplatka & Arar, 2019). This qualitative study attempts to understand kindergarten teachers’ emotional experiences by analyzing how they perceive and navigate the ethical dilemmas in work. An interpretive approach is applied with interview data collected from twelve Hong Kong kindergarten teachers. Data are analyzed inductively based on descriptions of critical incident cases reported. Researchers interpreted, coded, and grouped data into themes. The interview quotes exhibit that teachers’ emotions are contextually bounded. The dilemmatic experiences stemmed from teachers can be characterized into three ethical considerations: Role of empathy and care, culture of reciprocal trust, and dispositions related to cultural responsiveness. The discussion will contribute to the depictions of emotional experience, especially teachers are facing multiple challenges in working with different stakeholders. It also gives us some insights into how teachers develop ethical judgment for dealing with the situations given in such critical incident cases. Copyright © 2023 ISA, International Sociological Association.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023
EventXX ISA World Congress of Sociology - Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 25 Jun 202301 Jul 2023


ConferenceXX ISA World Congress of Sociology
Internet address


Keung, C. (2023, June 25–July 1). Kindergarten teachers’ emotions and ethical dilemmas at work in the time of COVID-19 [Paper presentation]. XX ISA World Congress of Sociology, Melbourne, Australia.


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