Sports Careers: Kindergarten through 12th Grade Schools – Physical Education Teacher Jobs

Physical Education teachers or PE teachers play a big role in our childhood, all the way from Kindergarten through 12th grade. Good P.E. teachers can and should have a very positive effect on the physical fitness, attitude and health of children.

Physical Education Teacher Stretches with Students

The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports sets the standard for America’s kids: “the ability to last, to bear up, to withstand stress, and to persevere under difficult circumstances where an unfit person would be ineffective or would quit.” This does not mean that P.E. class is Boot Camp!

In fact, recent trends in K-12 health and fitness are steering away from team sports, dodgeball and activities that involve waiting your turn to go next. The emphasis these days is lower on the win-or-lose outcome, and more on what play is supposed to be about – having fun! Kids like to be active, for a few minutes at a time. Showing them how to stay active for 15 minutes at a time teaches them lots of things, including new skills and abilities, and helps them get fit at the same time.

Marya Washington Tyler, a Gifted Child Consultant in Ketchikan, recently wrote for the National Education Association on “Turning Recess into Physical Education.”

Tyler was in the middle of the school year when she was told to teach P.E. to her sixth-graders during recess. Lacking any skills or knowledge of sports like baseball, she felt lost looking through what she was supposed to teach. Until she spotted this: “Working toward a personal goal.”

So that’s what they did. “Anna did a handstand, Jason shinnied up the pole. . . ” And their teacher learned to do a flip over the end of the horizontal ladder. Tyler, 50, reports, “It felt wonderful!”

A Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education is the minimum for most P.E. teacher positions, and a Master’s Degree is often required. Teachers must also hold a state Certification for public K-12 schools. The NEA recently released a report on the Status of the American Public School Teacher. Here are some of the findings:

  • More than half of today’s teachers hold a Master’s degree or 6-year Diploma.
  • Teachers spend an average of 50 hours per week on instructional duties.
  • Sixty percent of teachers would become teachers again.
  • The ratio of male to female teachers has steadily declined to a 40-year low of 21%.

Susan Phillips, Executive Editor of Connect For Kids asked George Graham, President of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, “How has P.E. changed?” Professor Graham says it’s better. “There’s an emphasis more on sports and physical activities that youngsters can do for a lifetime, as opposed to just team sports.”

These colleges and universities all have programs in Physical Education for teachers (there are others):

  • Eastern Illinois University
  • Ithaca College
  • Middle Tennessee State University
  • Northern Illinois University
  • Springfield College
  • Teachers College Columbia University
  • University of New Mexico
  • Utah State University
  • West Chester University
  • West Virginia University
  • Western Michigan University

Idaho State University offers a Masters in Athletic Administration, and West Virginia University has P.E. Teacher Education, including Master’s and Doctoral degrees.

You can learn more about sports and physical activity in K-12 schools through these organizations:

American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance

PHE Canada

National Association for Sport and Physical Education

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