An Examination of the Practices and Experiences of Physical Education Teachers of English Language Learners
Type of DegreeDissertation
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Over the last decade, there has been a burgeoning number of English Language Learners (ELLs) in U.S. classrooms. This consistent increase in ELLs is a clear indication of the need for teachers to be well equipped with the pedagogical skills necessary to address the needs of this population of students. Unfortunately, there is little known about ELLs in physical education settings. The purpose of this exploratory collective case study was three-fold: 1) to explore the experiences and teaching practices of K–12 physical education (PE) teachers of English Language Learners; 2) to examine the factors that impact the teaching behaviors and goals of PE teachers of ELLs; and 3) to explore the perceived needs for PE teachers to effectively teach ELLs. Guided by the tenets of the Theory of Planned Behavior, four PE teachers were observed teaching with a keen focus on their interactions with ELLs. Additionally, interviews were conducted to gain insight into the teaching strategies utilized, needs, challenges faced, and the intended goals as it pertained to the instruction of ELLs in PE settings. Using qualitative data analysis techniques, four major findings evolved from this study: a) PE teachers use an array of strategies to teach ELLs: peer helpers, demonstrations, Spanish infusion, and classroom routines; b) PE teachers indicate several needs that should be addressed in order to be effective teachers: increased ELL teacher support, knowledge of second language acquisition, and more professional development opportunities; c) PE teachers face two major barriers when teaching ELLs: the inability to speak Spanish, and a limited knowledge of students’ backgrounds; and d) PE teachers aspire to create inclusive and comprehensive learning environments for ELLs irrespective of administrative and parental engagement. The participants exhibited commitment in their instructional practices with ELLs. However, there is a need for further professional development opportunities to assist PE teachers with instructing this specific population of students. Additionally, the needs, as expressed by the participants, should be addressed through enhanced Physical Education Teacher Education program curriculum that is infused not only with general diversity pedagogical approaches, but also techniques designed specifically for ELLs.