Date of Graduation

Fall 12-27-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Organization and Leadership (O&L)


School of Education

First Advisor

Dr. Seenae Chong

Second Advisor

Dr. Danfeng Soto-Vigil Koon


This grounded theory analysis uses participant interviews and document analysis to further understand the lived experiences of teachers and leaders in Early Child Education. The thesis was set out to explore the following research questions: How do ECE leaders and teachers understand teacher professionalism? What is the role of whiteness and gender in teacher professionalism? and What is the relationship between the ideas of professionalism and the local context in ECE? The study finds that insiders have strong notions of professional conduct but that exploring professionalism was a site of contention for the participants. Two responses to issues of professionalism were found by this study. The first, constructive reimagining which expands the borders of professionalism to include ECE and the second, destructive reimagining which restricts professionalism in ECE to only certain individuals. The study also finds that race is impacting the professional lives of participants and that the concept of whiteness is a useful tool for understanding how race is experienced by participants. The thesis concludes with implications for research and practice.