Accounts in the media often demonize teachers and misrepresent what is happening in schools. Meanwhile, teachers' voices are largely absent from the national and international debates on school reform. This dissertation privileges the voices of nine participating Kindergarten through second grade teachers from a variety of public schools, including affluent schools and schools receiving full and partial Title I funding. Through observations and interviews teachers shared their narratives of classroom joys and challenges while also describing how policy has affected these experiences. A preliminary discourse analysis of these narratives was performed, identifying narratives related to nodes of the activity system of schooling. Further discourse analysis of these identified narratives revealed how these teachers' classroom experiences position them within an activity system strongly influenced by tensions between maternal relationships and the patriarchal project of schooling. A critical feminist theoretical perspective is utilized to respond to these tensions and to describe possibilities for future studies in education and the future of education in general.