Holding High Standards: Tackling Negative Stereotypes in the Teaching Profession
We would like to introduce you to one of our Physical Education Teaching/Coaching (PETE) professors, Dr. Carol Wilkinson. She teaches the secondary practicum of the PETE program, as well as a badminton class, and fitness for life.
Dr. Wilkinson was inspired to become a teacher when one of her P.E. teachers in high school encouraged her to consider teaching. She discovered she loved teaching during her callings at church and decided to pursue physical education in college. After a few years of teaching, Dr. Wilkinson went and earned a masters and doctorate degree before she joined the PETE faculty. She explains "I’ve been here for 24 years and it’s been really fun. I love working with your age group. It’s just the best. You guys have a lot of energy and you’re all developing what you want to do in life and it’s a great job."
She reminds us that "there are lots of avenues for what you can do besides teaching in the schools once you have your degrees." In addition to teaching, students can go on to become athletic directors in administration, educational software developers, coaches, and personal trainers. "Some students have even gone on to get involved in recreational management and health promotional programs."
When asked how she has dealt with negative stereotypes, Dr. Wilkinson said "I don't think people realize how the world really needs good teachers at all ages. People think you go into teaching because you can’t do anything else. What’s that saying? Those that can’t do, teach. I think it’s kind of ignorant of people. Unfortunately, I do think there are some bad examples out there, which is why it’s up to us as a profession to hold high standards."
"It's up to us as a profession to hold high standards."
There will always be those who criticize teaching, so Dr. Wilkinson simply suggests that you "ignore what the people choose to stereotype and show them differently. We've trained you and we're counting on you to go out and hold high standards."
When asked what impact she thinks she has had as a teacher, she explained "if students are really interested in becoming physical education teachers it’s my job to help them be successful, not to weed them out. I think I really liked to feel that I’m trying to help people succeed and not expect success as I want it immediately. It’s a process. My job is to nurture students and to help them when they’re struggling with their teaching to realize that they can do it." Her philosophy is that "I'm paid to help you be successful, not to cause barriers."
Dr. Wilkinson praises the incredible reputation that the PETE program has nationally. She said "in fact, when we go to conferences nationally, we have professors come ask us for our sharp students to come to master’s programs." She explains that "our focus is on helping our students be exposed to a range of activities, not just sports, but other activities like mountain biking, long boarding, and hiking—all sorts of different things. We want them, when they go out in the schools, to be able to expose their students to lots of activities so the kids can find something that they want to do for the rest of their lives. The idea is to help kids be exposed so that their interest is in life long activity."
For future students joining the program, she emphasizes the professionalism that comes with the major. "As soon as you're in the program, we start to treat you as a professional." To those entering into the teaching field, she encourages "remember who you are. Remember that you're representing this school and the church. Go out and make a real difference."
"Ignore what people choose to stereotype and show them differently."
"This is a great profession to be in. As I think of the thousands of kids I've worked with over the years in the schools and since being here, the relationships that I've developed with these students as they grow older, are a great thing. To me, it’s better than just going and having a job where you’re just making money with a product. Our product is alive and has feelings and you can have an amazing impact on their lives."