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Breaking from Traditionalism: Strategies for the Recruitment of Physical Education Teachers

Kason O'Neil & K. Andrew R. Richards

joperd cover february 2018

Ellis has been a baseball player and athlete his entire life. He grew up in a family that has supported his passion for participating in athletics since he was five years old. Having played football, basketball and baseball through high school, Ellis began to wonder how he could stay connected with sports after graduation. After attending an open house at his local university and speaking to a physical education teacher education (PETE) faculty member, Ellis knew he had found the career path that best fit his passion. Choosing to be a physical educator seemed to be a natural choice. After getting accepted into the PETE program Ellis was overjoyed that he would one day be able to share his love for sport with children and adolescents as a physical education teacher and extracurricular sports coach.

Ellis’s story probably sounds familiar to many in the physical education community. Teacher education programs across the United States are filled with future professionals who reflect the athlete-turned-physical educator profile. Students such as Ellis are likely to always be represented in PETE programs. However, a re-evaluation of teacher recruitment efforts may be necessary to seek candidates who not only are highly qualified academically but also bring diverse backgrounds that better reflect the P–12 students with whom they will work. This includes de-emphasizing the recruitment of students with backgrounds in team sport and potentially targeting efforts toward those with an interest in lifetime physical activities (e.g., dance, fitness, outdoor pursuits; Hills, Dengel, & Lubans, 2015). Such an approach to recruitment mirrors current trends in the physical education community related to preparing children for participation in lifetime physical activity (Trudeau & Shepherd, 2008). To this end, the purpose of this article is to critically examine current recruitment practices in PETE, and to provide strategies for recruiting highly qualified future teachers who have diverse backgrounds.

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joperd free article cover february 2018