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The Experiences of African American Physical Education Teacher Candidates at Secondary Urban Schools

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Presently, most physical education teachers in the United States are White Americans and from middle class families. In fact, 83 % of all teachers in public schools are White Americans, whereas approximately 10 % of all African American teachers are representative of all teachers in the United States. A student might feel cultural dissonance that she or he is behaving appropriately based on the student’s cultural norm and upbringing, but the teachers who have different cultural and ethnic backgrounds than the students may inappropriately interpret or respond to the behavior. Therefore, it is important to study African American pre-service physical education teachers’ student teaching and field-based experiences with ethnically diverse adolescence (e.g., African American students), because they have the potential to develop a positive relationship between school support, teacher support, and academic achievement and influence student learning, motivation, and engagement in physical education. The purpose of this study was to describe and explain the experiences of African American physical education teacher education (PETE) candidates at secondary urban schools. The research design was explanatory multiple-case study situated in activity theory. Participants were seven African American PETE candidates. The qualitative data sources were interviews, weekly journal reflections, and e-portfolios. The results were (a) navigating power relationships between cooperative teachers and students, (b) a ‘shocking’ experience: Feeling under-prepared, and (c) encountered cultural normalcies and stereotypes in teaching physical education. PETE programs must better prepare teacher candidates for working in urban schools with greater cultural competence and higher self-efficacy.

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Correspondence to Takahiro Sato.

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Sato, T., Fisette, J. & Walton, T. The Experiences of African American Physical Education Teacher Candidates at Secondary Urban Schools. Urban Rev 45, 611–631 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-013-0238-5

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  • African American
  • Physical education
  • Student teaching
  • Ethnicity
  • Case studies