The purpose of this study was to examine how three PE teachers’ personal biographies before their formal teacher education programs influenced their early careers in urban schools. Using occupational socialization theory and cultural relevance theory, we conducted in-depth interviews and observed early career physical education teachers who did not grow up in urban communities for approximately six weeks each. Data were analyzed using constant comparison. Two major themes emerged as influential in the teachers’ successes and struggles in urban schools, including their exposure to diversity, and family views of culture. These findings suggest that the pre-professional socialization experiences of teachers also include the development of cultural templates, biases, and values, and that many teachers may not accurately or critically reflect on their teaching practices. Further research should examine how PETE programs prepare middle-class teacher candidates for diverse schools.
Flory is with the School of Physical Education & Exercise, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL. McCaughtry is with the Division of Kinesiology, Health and Sport Studies, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI.