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Promoting Change: In Your Physical Education ProgramDonetta Cothran aa Department of Kinesiology , Indiana University , Bloomington , INPublished online: 18 Jan 2013.
To cite this article: Donetta Cothran (2005) Promoting Change: In Your Physical Education Program, Strategies: A Journal forPhysical and Sport Educators, 18:5, 37-38, DOI: 10.1080/08924562.2005.10591163
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Promoting Change In Your Physical Education Program
The current educational reform movement is full of proposals for im-proving schools. Physical education is
not immune to these reform efforts as new pedagogical strategies and cur-ricular frameworks are proposed. Many of the proposals that have been put forth are excellent, but proposing change is easier than implementing
change. The history of reform often reveals that the traditional "here is what we're going to do now" approach is doomed to failure. As Fullan (1991) notes, change cannot be done to oth-ers. Rather, all participants must be in-volved in, and ideally benefit from, the
change. Therefore, if you want to pro-mote change in your physical educa-tion program, you must find ways to address your colleagues' needs in the
change process. The first factor to consider is that
many teachers tend to judge new ideas based on an ethic of practicality (Doyle & Ponder, 1977). If what you propose is seen as practical, it is more likely to be adopted. Doyle and Pon-der (1977) suggest that there are three criteria that form the basis of practical-ity: instrumentality, congruence, and cost (in time and effort). This article
will consider these criteria, using the example of a curricular change to the fitness curriculum that you would like to submit to colleagues.
Instrumentality. Instrumentality re-fers to the clarity and ecological rel-evance of a curricular proposal. The clarity of a proposal may refer to effec-tive oral and written communication,
May /June 2005
by Donetta Cothran
but may also refer to the presence of procedural content, or the "nuts and bolts" of how to affect change within a
specific setting. When presenting a fit-ness curriculum proposal to colleagues, ensure that your proposal is clearly writ-ten, avoids educational jargon that may not be clear to your audience, and in-cludes key information. Consider hav-
ing colleagues who are not in your field read the proposal and summarize it for you. Ask them to highlight words or phrases that they don't understand or have questions about. For example, they might not know what the acronym NASPE stands for, in sections about the national standards.
It is important to ensure that you have procedural clarity in your pro-posal. Procedural clarity means that your colleagues understand how the
proposed program will work on a daily basis. Many curricular change efforts are doomed to fail because they do not address procedures clearly. Educators rarely have time, and sometimes lack the skills, to convert principle into practice. Therefore, avoid materials that present only philosophical de-scriptions and program outcomes. A proposal for a fitness curriculum should provide sample lessons and pre-designed assessment tools. You do not need to describe every detail, but colleagues need to clearly envision the proposed program. To ensure proce-dural clarity, you could make videos of students being taught lessons or teach-ers teaching sample lessons in class. Educators are more receptive to
change when they believe those changes benefit their students.
If your proposal for a fitness cur-riculum is adopted, avoid the urge to take over. Include all of your col-leagues in the planning and designing of lessons and other applicable materi-als, but be available to provide any fit-
ness resources they may need. Group effort is necessary in order to fully implement any change, and can be a safe way for colleagues to share the workload and transition to a new cur-riculum with both independence and support.
Congruence. The second compo-nent of practicality is congruence. Does the proposal match what physical educators believe and do in physical education? A dramatic change may be welcome if all colleagues are truly dis-satisfied with the status quo, but more frequently, changes to daily practice are viewed negatively. Decision mak-ing, therefore, is strongly influenced by potential negative reactions from students. The welfare of students is what is most important in the lives of educators. If class order or rapport with students will be disrupted, your colleagues may not be open to your proposal for a new fitness curriculum. If you know of other teachers in simi-lar settings who have made changes, consider using their success stories.
Ensure that colleagues see the congruence between your proposal and what your department currently does or wants to do. People sometimes
envision fitness as only push-ups, sit-
ups, and mile runs, so they may not
find a fitness program appealing. Consider making a chart that
highlights what will stay the same if a new curriculum is adopted. For ex-ample, many traditional sports can be modified to increase fitness outcomes while still allowing teachers and stu-dents to play the games they really en-joy. "Where differences of opinion do occur, be prepared to confer with your colleagues on how new procedures and content may lead to positive changes (i.e., an increase in students' level of physical activity or a decrease in discipline problems).
Cost (in time and effort). Finally, a practical proposal is one that ad-dresses cost. All change involves time and effort, so the individuals who will be affected need to be convinced that the return is worth the investment. To
convince your colleagues, be specific
in describing the posrtJve outcomes you believe a new fitness program will
generate, and prepare assessment tools that can measure the value of the change. Increased student motivation and learning, as well as additional pro-fessional satisfaction may be outcomes you want to highlight.
In addition to focusing on the benefits, introduce a plan for making the necessary time and effort costs manageable. One way is to break what you have proposed into short-term tri-als. This allows you and your col-leagues to address one fitness compo-nent at a time. For example, decide to focus on flexibility and add a daily stretching time to what you teach in your current curriculum. Decide to of-fer fitness-focused activities in one or two classes, rather than in all the classes at the same time. Or, offer both traditional and fitness activities and
then let students choose which class
they would like to be in.
"When you address your col-leagues ' concerns for practicality, you increase the likelihood of successful change. The process is challenging, but with everyone convinced of the positive outcomes and practical possi-bilities of achievement, change can
happen in schools.
Doyle, W., & Ponder, G. (1977-1978).
The practicali ty ethic in teacher decision
making. Interchange, 8(3), 1-12.
Fullan, M. G. ( 1991). The new meaning
of educational change (2nd ed.). New York:
Teachers College Press.
Oonetta Cothran (firstname.lastname@example.org)
is an associate professor for the Depart-ment of Kinesiology at Indiana University,
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STRATEGIES May/June 2005