Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

One Physical Educator's Career Cycle: Strong Start, Great Run, Approaching Finish

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

One Physical Educator's Career Cycle: Strong Start, Great Run, Approaching Finish

Article excerpt

Purpose: This article is nested within a longitudinal project examining 6 teachers' journeys along their career cycles (Lynn & Woods, 2010; Woods & Earls, 1995; Woods & Lynn, 2001). Two participants from the initial 6 continue to teach K-12 physical education; 1 of these participants, Everett, is examined in the current study. This veteran teacher's career-cycle movement and the environmental factors that both enhanced and constrained his career development are examined through the lens of Fessler and Christensen's career cycle model (1992). Method: Data sources included: 8 formal interviews with Everett; formal interviews with his university teacher educators, student-teacher supervisor, principal, and spouse; informal interviews; field notes; and systematic teaching observations. An interpretative framework was used to assess the perceptions and meanings Everett gave to experiences as a physical educator and coach. Results: Several factors acutely influenced Everett's career progression, including: (a) his individual disposition, (b) the impact and continued influence of a professional preparation program, and (c) his school and community support. He entered the profession with great promise and spent most of his career in the enthusiastic and growing, and the career stability, stages before shifting into the career frustration stage where he currently remains. Conclusions: Everett was able to negotiate personal and organizational environmental factors that have been identified as barriers for some physical educators. Therefore, viewing his professional life through the lens of the career cycle provides insights into the areas of change necessary to motivate and retain high-quality physical educators such as Everett.

Keywords: professional development, teacher resilience, teaching, veteran teachers

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Teachers play a central role in the multifaceted school environment; consequently, it is important to understand their careers and how they navigate their work lives. Clearly, they hold individual attitudes, knowledge, skills, behaviors, and self-efficacy levels at various points during their careers (Henninger, 2007), and they consequently experience different stages during the course of their professional lives. These stages collectively are called the career cycle. A number of career-cycle models have been proposed, with early models regarding teachers' careers as progressing through three or four sequential or linear stages from beginner through expert (Fuller, 1969). Such stage models have been challenged, however, because they do not consider the specific teacher and teaching context. According to Huberman (1993, p. 195), teachers' "professional career journeys are not adequately linear, predictable or identical." Other models such as that by Sammons et al. (2007), for example, consider teachers' contextual, professional, and personal factors and identify six professional life phases through which teachers progress. Accordingly, teachers' job commitment is influenced by their professional life phases and their identities, and these are mediated by the context of their work and home lives.

Models such as Steffy, Wolfe, Pasch, and Enz's (2000) model designate a six-phase "life cycle" of the teacher and specify that teachers can continue to grow in a positive direction while remaining in the same stage. This model differs from that of Sammons et al. (2007) in that teachers do not automatically move along the cycle. A teacher does not, for example, automatically move into the professional phase after spending 3 years in the apprentice phase. With a similar orientation, Fessler and Christensen's (1992) teacher career-cycle model contends that teachers do not move from stage to stage chronologically and can experience stages multiple times. Fessler and Christensen's model provides the theoretical underpinnings for the current study. This model was selected because it takes into account the effects of multiple factors, both inside and outside of the school context, on teachers' motivations, commitment, and enthusiasm at different stages in their careers. …

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