Physical Education Pre-Service Teachers' Understanding of Teaching for Social Justice: The Impact of Teaching Kids' Tennis to Youth Living in Poverty
Kreider, Carri Sue
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The purpose of this action research study was to better understand and improve my efforts as a Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) instructor to transform the attitudes, beliefs, and understandings of preservice teachers (PSTs) with regard to issues of social justice, specifically by achieving equality by providing opportunities and resources to students living in poverty. My study followed the action research process of planning, acting, observing, and reflecting. Ten participants, who were students in my university physical education teaching methods course, taught Kids' Tennis at two local after-school K-8 programs for three weeks. Qualitative data were collected from interviews, journals, observations, and discussions to examine the following research questions: (1) What are preservice teachers' perceptions of the impact of Kids' Tennis on students living in poverty? (2) How does teaching in Kids' Tennis influence PSTs' understanding of teaching for social justice? and (3) What did the Kids' Tennis experience teach me about my own practice in regard to implementing a program for this purpose?Analysis of the data yielded the following themes regarding preservice teachers: (a) view of Kids' Tennis as opportunity, (b) connection with youth living in poverty, (c) comfort level and confidence in teaching youth living in poverty, and (d) perceived understanding of teaching for social justice. Findings from this study suggest that PSTs formed relationships with youth living in poverty, changed to positive views of the youths' attitudes and behavior, gained confidence in teaching youth living in poverty, and gained a better understanding of teaching for social justice. Findings also indicated PSTs' held a deficit view, in which they perceived youth living in poverty as facing limitations. This study's findings were significant for improvements to my own practice, as well as possible implications for similar PETE programs. Offering more time, critical reflection, and scaffolding for the PSTs in future service-learning field experiences with PETE teaching methods courses could potentially bring PSTs to a higher level of understanding of teaching for social justice.