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The lives and careers of veteran urban physical education teachers

Mary L Henninger, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The lives and careers of teachers have been studied from several perspectives (e.g., teacher career stage development, adult development, and the organizational context of teachers). Teacher career stages have been the focus of much educational research since Fuller (1969) first outlined her stages of teacher concern. Over the course of the next three decades multiple models of teacher career development were proposed and tested. Teacher career development, as conceptualized by Burke and colleagues, emphasizes the influence of teachers' organizational (i.e., work) and personal (i.e., adult development) contexts on their development as teachers (Burke, Christensen, & Fessler, 1984; Burke, Christensen, Fessler, McDonell, & Price, 1987). Taking into account contexts in which teacher career development occurs provides a dynamic lens through which to view teacher development. Therefore, the teacher career cycle model served as the theoretical framework for this qualitative study of the lives and careers of urban physical education teachers. The purpose of this qualitative study was twofold. First, it was designed to understand how veteran urban physical education teachers experience their lives and careers. Second, it explored ways in which the factors influencing the lives and careers of these physical education teachers affected their career longevity in urban schools. Participants included 9 (4F, 5M) urban physical education teachers who had between four and 31 years of teaching experience in urban schools (mean = 10yrs.). Data were collected through observation and in depth interviews. Data analysis consisted of open and axial coding to identify themes and categories across participants. Results indicated that for this group of teachers, organizational context, personal context, and their development as teachers influenced their work lives and careers. In addition, as this group of teachers gained experience in urban schools, they developed skills necessary to maintain order to facilitate learning in their dynamic work environments. This study has implications for teacher education and professional development. As we learn more about the teachers who stay in urban schools we will be better able to prepare them to meet the needs of working in urban school contexts.

Subject Area

Physical education|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Henninger, Mary L, "The lives and careers of veteran urban physical education teachers" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3136734.