Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

The Learning Profiles of High School Teacher-Coaches

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

The Learning Profiles of High School Teacher-Coaches

Article excerpt

Introduction

There is a growing body of research examining the context of high school sport in Canada (e.g., Camire & Trudel, 2010; Holt, Tink, Mandigo, & Fox, 2008). However, only a few studies have focused specifically on the high school teacher-coach, despite that quality coaching is regarded as a key element in promoting the development of student-athletes through school sport (Fraser-Thomas, Cote, & Deakin, 2005; Lacroix, Camire, & Trudel, 2008; Scanlan, Babkes, & Scanlan, 2005). High school sport belongs to the developmental level sport context (Trudel & Gilbert, 2006); however, high school teacher-coaches experience different learning needs from developmental level coaches who work outside of the school context. The information that is available indicates that teacher-coaches are expected to enter the realm of coaching and perform, from their first day, to the same standards as their expert colleagues (Bell, 1997). Apart from high school teacher-coaches remaining largely unstudied, another reason they should be further examined is they are often asked to coach multiple sports, including sports with which they are unfamiliar, and are allotted little time for preparation (Lacroix et al.).

The developmental sporting context has been described as a setting that includes: "a formal competitive structure, increased commitment from athletes and coaches, a stable relationship between athletes and coaches, and athletes are selected based on skill tryouts" (Trudel & Gilbert, 2006, p. 521). Examples of developmental sports coaching contexts include high school sports, regional sport clubs, and adult competitive sports that are neither full-time nor professional. The first major difference between the learning of high school teacher-coaches and other developmental level coaches is related to formal learning situations (e.g., large-scale coach education programs). Most developmental level coaches in Canada are required to be certified by the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) (Lacroix et al., 2008). In contrast, teacher-coaches can coach high school sports without being certified by the NCCP. Although the NCCP has recently developed a training module for high school teacher-coaches, it is not mandatory for coaches to go through the training and the module is currently only offered in a few provinces (Coaching Association of Canada, 2010). Second, the majority of developmental sport coaches participate for several years as competitive athletes in the sport they coach, which provides them with informal knowledge about the role of a coach (Sage, 1989; Trudel & Gilbert, 2006). Furthermore, prior to becoming a head coach, developmental coaches "spend approximately four years as assistant coaches" (Trudel & Gilbert, 2006, p. 521) in which they learn how to communicate and teach sport (Wright et al., 2007). High school teacher-coaches differ because, when starting a teaching career, many are often asked to coach a sport with which they are unfamiliar and have no prior athletic or coaching experience (Lacroix et al., 2008).

Given these circumstances, teacher-coaches have certain learning needs that differ from those of other developmental sport coaches. The different levels of coaching/playing experiences and overall sporting knowledge of teacher-coaches influences their attraction to certain learning situations and ultimately impacts their ability to create a suitable environment for student-athlete development. The present study was conducted to better understand Canadian high school teacher-coaches' learning. Jarvis' (2006, 2007, 2009) theory, which states that we learn by extracting information from social situations and transforming this information into knowledge and/or skills, acted as the framework for this study. Using this framework allowed us to document the biographies of high school teacher-coaches and identify the impact that their life experiences have had on their learning how to coach. …

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