University/elementary School Partnerships in Physical Education: Strategies and Benefits

By Petray, Clayre; Hill, Grant M. | Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators, July-August 2009 | Go to article overview

University/elementary School Partnerships in Physical Education: Strategies and Benefits


Petray, Clayre, Hill, Grant M., Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators


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During the past decade, numerous university teacher preparation programs have created partnerships with local school districts to provide field-based experiences for future teachers (Ambrose, Natale, Murphey & Schumacher, 1999; Etzel-Wise & Mears, 2004; Glow & Sperhac, 2003; Gottlieb, Keogh, Jonas, Grunbaum, Waiters, Fee, Saunders & Baldyga, 1999; Harper& Sadler, 2003; Jenkins, Eman & Black, 2002; Kirkwood, 1999; Maxson & Schwartz, 2001; Rothstein, 2002). In addition to student teaching, these programs have incorporated structured field experiences early in teacher education coursework, often at schools identified as exemplary. These field experiences provide pre-service teachers with valuable experiences through which they apply subject matter content and pedagogical knowledge. Siedentop and Locke (1997) have encouraged university physical education teacher education (PETE) programs to work together with the public schools to prepare K-12 physical education teachers.

"PETE can only fulfill its responsibility if it does so in collaboration with good schools in which there are good physical education programs. If there are not enough good clinical sites.... then PETE must assume responsibility for helping to develop and sustain school physical education programs directly. " (p.27)

University PETE programs in many states face unique challenges in the preparation of pre-service elementary school physical education teachers. In some states such as Arizona, the majority of elementary schools employ full-time physical education specialists, while, in other states such as California, the majority of elementary schools do not employ a physical education specialist. When elementary schools do not employ physical education specialists, classroom teachers have the primary responsibility for physical education instruction. Schools without physical education specialists present an additional challenge for university PETE programs; not only must they prepare PETE majors to become elementary school physical education specialists, they also have the critical responsibility of preparing future K-6 classroom teachers to provide quality physical education instruction (McCullick and DeMarco, 2003). Furthermore, when local elementary schools do not employ physical education specialists, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to provide high quality elementary school physical education field experiences for pre-service teachers.

One approach university PETE programs may use to insure high quality elementary school physical education field experiences is to develop partnerships with elementary schools where there is sufficient support for physical education, as well as openness to university leadership. The university PETE faculty, working together with district leaders, elementary school administration, and school faculty, may create a reciprocal partnership through which pre-service teachers conduct on-site physical education instruction and physical activity and fitness assessment with elementary school students. This article describes the framework of a model for establishing such a partnership consisting of the following: purpose, need, description, development, implementation, and benefits.

Partnership Purpose

The primary purpose of a reciprocal physical education partnership is for the university PETE program and the elementary school to work collaboratively to provide:

* PETE pre-service teachers with quality field-based experiences in physical education lesson planning, teaching, self-evaluation of teaching, and physical fitness and activity assessment.

* Elementary school classroom teachers with the opportunity to observe and participate in quality physical education lessons and physical fitness and activity assessment, review accompanying lesson plans, and conduct follow-up lessons. …

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