Transition to Teaching: Putting Your Best Foot Forward; Part 1

Article excerpt

Preservice teachers in physical education and in other disciplines are usually well prepared to assume an initial teaching position in their area of expertise. However, teacher preparation programs often fail to provide direction and guidance regarding how to secure that first job--or get your "foot" in the door. Due to time constraints, many teacher education programs leave this responsibility to the career services component within the university system. As teacher educators, we are doing our teacher candidates a disservice if we do not deliver this content to them in one form or another. Therefore, the purpose of this two-part article is to provide a clear understanding of the basic components needed to secure that first physical education teaching position. Part one addresses the following four major aspects: (1) teaching philosophy, (2) cover letter, (3) resume, and (4) references. Part two will address the five remaining components: (1) the application process, (2) using a teaching portfolio as a market ing tool, (3) interview strategies and guidelines, (4) job search techniques, and (5) available resources. This article will be of particular interest to preservice physical education teachers, teacher educators, and any individual seeking to secure a teaching position.

Teaching Philosophy

The teaching philosophy statement is probably the most difficult piece to develop, but once it is completed, the rest just seems to fall into place. Your teaching philosophy will be reflected throughout the job application process, from the development of your resume to the actual job interview itself. Students have often developed a skeleton of a philosophy statement as a component of their portfolio. Because the statement is a key component, you should ensure that it genuinely reflects your beliefs and assumptions about teaching and learning.

Once written, your teaching philosophy provides a school administrator with a fairly succinct picture of who you are as you prepare to enter the teaching profession. It addresses several aspects (Sprinthall, Sprinthall, & Oja, 1994). First, your teaching philosophy depicts your beliefs and assumptions about the goals of physical education. Within this context, consider the purpose of physical education, its importance, and its overall value within a student's educational program. You may then choose to describe, in basic terms, the general curriculum you envision for your students (e.g., fitness, educational gymnastics and dance, lifetime activities), as well as any other aspects you find applicable. Several publications from the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) may assist you in this process; they will appear in a comprehensive resource list in part two of this article.

A second component to address is how students learn. This section describes how your teaching style facilitates student learning. Do you believe that all students are at the same developmental level in terms of psychomotor, cognitive, and affective competencies? If not, how will you accommodate the diverse needs of your students? How will you vary the content so that it is developmentally appropriate for all students? How will you attend to the varied learning styles of your students?

Third, address your role as a physical education teacher. What does it entail? What do you need to do to ensure that your students receive a quality physical education program? Many NASPE resources can aid in the development of this component as well. What is it that you wish to accomplish as a physical education teacher? What will your students derive from your teaching? What do you believe are your major roles?

Fourth, describe your beliefs and assumptions regarding behavior management. Have you developed a behavior management plan that includes rules, protocols, consequences, and motivation techniques to assist you in the development of a productive learning environment for your students? …