Professional development for secondary teachers teaching Physical Education and Health (PEH) - Examples and experiences from a Swedish project

Year: 2012

Author: Åström, Peter, Löfgren, Kent

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Teachers need to improve knowledge and skills to enhance, improve and explore their teaching practices. This paper reports on a one-year teacher development program with teachers with different teaching experience teaching PEH in elementary school in Sweden. In this paper the focus will be on how teachers perceive different teaching competences in relation to teaching experience and their own needs.

The paper draws on data from interviews involving eight teachers, field notes from monthly meetings and focus-group interviews. The participants were made up of a mix of senior (>15 years work experience), junior (<5 years) intermediate teachers (5-15 years).

Overall teachers experience a lack of development focusing on subject-matter in their schools. The junior teachers were more willing to test new ideas and to take more initiative to try out new pedagogical ideas in the classroom. The senior teachers on the other hand were ascribed to have competence, experience and routine to handle nearly any situation that may arise in their classrooms. The junior teachers felt that they could benefit greatly from those experiences and the wisdom that the senior teachers shared. All teachers said that the juniors might benefit from and learn many things from the senior teachers, such as how to interact with and communicate with pupils, parents, as well as colleagues and other school staff either in situations related to the actual teaching that takes place in the physical education classroom, i.e. the sports hall, or in other job-related situations. Both the junior and the senior teachers stated that the senior teachers had more of a ´professional distance´ to the pupils and that junior teachers had more of a peer relation in comparison to the senior teachers.

To conclude the senior teachers were positively affected by the manner in which the junior teachers used new ideas and the new syllabus in planning of practice. The senior teachers felt re-vitalized by the energy and commitment demonstrated by the junior teachers. On the other hand competences related to the teaching role in a broader sense than solely the lessons, junior teacher seem to benefit from the interaction with the more experienced teachers. It is suggested that there is a need for teacher development programs for elementary teachers teaching PEH were exchange of ideas and competences between junior and senior teachers are used more deliberate to improve teaching.