Research suggests that when people make a decision to enter a particular profession, such as physical education, they go through three distinct phases of socialization: recruitment, professional socialization, and occupational socialization. This article will discuss how these phases can affect the ways in which physical education teachers teach games to their pupils. As teacher educators, we believe that physical education teacher education (PETE) programs should challenge students to consider alternate methods and strategies of teaching physical education. One such alternative strategy for teaching games is through a tactical-understanding approach.
The recruitment phase comprises the experiences that people have when they are young. People who choose to become physical education teachers have been socialized into and through sport (Lawson, 1986). In particular, sport experiences in school (physical education classes, intramurals, and interscholastic sports), as well as experiences outside of school (recreational activities and youth sport programs), play a major role in helping someone decide that they want to pursue a teaching career in physical education. The professional socialization phase consists of the experiences that people live through when they are training to enter the teaching profession. These experiences occur at the higher education level and include courses of study, early field experiences, and student teaching. The final stage of teacher socialization is occupational socialization, which refers to the experiences that teachers have when employed as physical education teachers in schools. This phase is complicated, but it includes learning what works in the real world of teaching and dealing with conditions in the workplace that affect teachers, both inside and outside the class setting (Solomon, Worthy, & Carter, 1993).
Teachers' socialization experiences help them define what, why, and how they teach. In his important work on teacher socialization, Lortie (1975) claimed that all teacher recruits had served "apprenticeships-of-observation," as they had been observing and interacting with teachers for at least 13 years before entering a teacher preparation program. He also argued that teachers' biographies (past experiences) were often more powerful than what teachers learned in their teacher education program in determining how they were going to teach. Research has shown that most students who chose to enter a course of study in PETE have had enjoyable and probably successful physical education and sport participation experiences. These recruits also claimed to have a strong interest in a custodial approach to teaching, meaning that they anticipated teaching in a manner similar to how they were taught (Bain, 1990).
Professional Socialization Findings
Undergraduates in PETE have reported that student teaching is the most meaningful and beneficial experience that they undergo in their preparation for teaching (Wright, 2001a). Many studies have found that it is the cooperating teachers (CTs) who help and influence student teachers the most, because they work closely together on a daily basis (for a review, see McIntyre, Byrd, & Foxx, 1996). Teaching-methods courses and practical activity classes rank next in importance and benefit. These classes are seen as important because they are perceived as directly relating to teaching activities in schools (Graber, 1995).
Also of importance is professional development, when teachers and PETE students are likely exposed to new teaching models and ideas:
... when undergraduate students are part of an organized group of members who share a common goal, they are more likely to join professional organizations. In the Plymouth State College HPER department, for example, many majors' club members (66%) are affiliated with national or state professional organizations, compared with only 4.2 percent of students who are not majors' club members. (Butler, 2003, p. 33)
Occupational Socialization Findings
Much of the research in this area has focused on teachers' initial year of full-time teaching, often referred to as the induction year. This period in teachers' careers is commonly difficult as they struggle to assimilate into the real world of teaching. Typically, physical education teachers deal with the following four issues (Solomon et al., 1993):
* Marginalization of their subject (whereby physical education is regarded as less important than other academic subjects)
* Role conflict (when teachers realize they have many roles to fulfill other than that of teacher)
* Reality shock (when they realize that they are not in optimal teaching settings with incredibly motivated students)
* Wash-out effect (when novices discard what they learned at the university and revert to teaching in a way they themselves were taught)
All of this creates a disconcerting scenario, …