Strategies to Reduce Negative Socialization in the First Years of Teaching

Article excerpt

Transitioning into a new role can be difficult in any walk of life, and this is no different for physical educators entering a new teaching environment. In a new setting, a physical educator may go through a socialization process where beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, and teaching philosophies are influenced. Teacher socialization research (Getzels & Guba, 1954; Hutchinson, 1993; Lawson, 1986; Lortie, 1975; Templin, 1989; Veenman, 1984) suggests when individuals enter the educational process they go through three distinct phases of socialization: 1) recruitment socialization, 2) professional socialization, and 3) occupational socialization.

The recruitment socialization phase is comprised of the experiences individuals have in K-12 (Lortie, 1975; Hutchinson, 1993). During this phase, students develop beliefs regarding what defines a quality physical education program. Students who choose to pursue a teaching degree in physical education will bring with them the preconceived notions about education gathered during this phase of the socialization process.

The professional socialization phase is influenced by experiences individuals have when entering, going through, or exiting the training process of teacher education (Schempp & Graber, 1992; Templin, 1989). During this phase of the socialization process, Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) faculty members challenge the conceptions students bring to the program from the recruitment phase. While immersed in course work, pre-service physical education candidates learn pedagogical content, instructional techniques, standards-based educational goals, assessment techniques, and other important aspects of teaching that will help prepare the future teacher to meet the demands of a diverse K-12 educational setting.

Finally, occupational socialization is comprised of the experiences teachers have when awarded a job and begin working as an independent physical educator in a school setting (Lawson, 1986; Lawson, 1988). This is the final stage of socialization when the student officially is awarded the title of physical educator and steps into the first year of full-time, independent teaching. This phase of socialization is broken down further by Stroot, Faucette, and Schwager (1993), who suggest occupational socialization carries with it four main issues: 1) marginalization or isolation, 2) role conflict, 3) reality shock, and 4) wash-out. The following sections examine these four issues further.

Marginalization or isolation

Many physical educators enter the student teaching practicum and full assumption teaching and discover very little respect for physical education within the ranks of school faculty, administrators, and community members. This lack of respect results in two very detrimental experiences for new physical educators. First, when administrators, faculty, and students believe physical education is not core to the school mission, it becomes a subject that is dispensable. This attitude leads to students being taken out of class for other curricular needs, physical education facilities used without notification for school functions, and the creation of large class sizes that are not easily managed by a single physical educators. Second, the onslaught of negative comments and lack of support negatively affect physical educators by placing on them extra emotional strain. Consequently, they may experience early burnout or frustration.

Role conflict

Role conflict occurs when beginning educators realize teaching is not their only responsibility (Getzls & Guba, 1954; Katz & Kahn, 1966). Teachers often take on extracurricular activities, such as teaching leadership or student council classes, volunteering time to help with school functions, or working on school committees. Additionally, physical educators may be required to coach more than one sport a year, which can lead to role conflict--balancing the importance of both coaching and teaching. …