Training Elementary School Classroom Teachers to Lead Developmentally Appropriate Physical Education: In the Absence of Credentialed Specialists, How Can Schools Improve the Teaching of Physical Education?
Sherman, Clay P., JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance
Physical education delivered during the school day provides early health promotion and an opportunity for children to engage in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). It is widely acknowledged that it is ideal to have credentialed physical education specialists teaching physical education--in elementary school as elsewhere. However, because many states and school districts do not hire credentialed physical educators in elementary schools--or do not hire enough to provide physical education regularly--the multiple-subject classroom teacher is often responsible for teaching physical education. One study (Sallis & McKenzie, 1991) estimated that classroom teachers deliver 85 percent or more of elementary physical education instruction. In the age of streamlined and blended multiple-subject credential programs that focus on preparing teachers with fewer academic units, preparation for teaching physical education often consists of a single course or a several-hour seminar, or is ignored completely. Fortunately, and with good results, researchers and practitioners have investigated methods and benefits of training and supporting classroom teachers to deliver developmentally appropriate physical education (e.g., Faucette, Nugent, Sallis, & McKenzie, 2002; McKenzie, Alcaraz, Faucette, & Sallis, 1998; McKenzie, Sallis, Faucette, Roby, & Kolody, 1993; McKenzie, Sallis, Kolody, & Faucette, 1997; Perry et al., 1997; Sallis et al., 1997). Despite these efforts, elementary school classroom teachers continue to be challenged with the often overwhelming task of delivering consistent physical education to their students (Ennis, 2006).
Educating, training, and supporting classroom teachers (CRTs) to consistently deliver physical education content during the school day remains an important part of the prescription for arresting current health trends related to low physical activity rates (National Center for Health Statistics, 2005; Sallis, McKenzie, Kolody, & Curtis, 1996; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996). This article discusses recent efforts to provide year-long, progressive, professional development to CRTs in two large urban school districts. First, a collaborative partnership between a youth service agency (YMCA), two large urban school districts, and a university will be discussed. Second, the year-long professional development program will be examined in four distinct phases. Specific challenges at each phase of professional development will be presented and solutions will be explored. The article will then present feedback from CRTs who went through the training to illustrate some of the successes of the previous year's efforts and to highlight suggestions for modifying or refining the professional development model. Finally, recommendations for schools and districts wanting to train and support CRTs in delivering consistent physical education are outlined.
The term "classroom teachers" is used to refer to nonphysical educators only as a matter of convenience; physical educators are also recognized as classroom teachers in the most inclusive understanding of that term. In several instances the term "developmentally appropriate physical education" (DAPE) is used to differentiate the focus and mission of the model described in this article from what is often accepted as "PE" in many elementary schools. Classroom teachers, without the necessary training in physical education, may conceptualize it as recess time or simply "rolling out the balls." As "physically educated" people know, physical education or DAPE is much more than that and, for the purpose of educating, training, and supporting teachers, the developmental appropriateness of physical education is accentuated.
A Model Partnership
In 2004, a grant-writing team consisting of individuals from California State University at Fullerton, two large southern California school districts, and the YMCA sought funding for an intervention protocol designed to use physical education specialists (PESs) to provide year-long training and support to CRTs, and to supply approximately $11,000 worth of equipment to each school. …