Cultural Competence of Urban Middle School Physical Education Teachers


  • Sara B. Flory University of South Florida
  • Rebecca A. Wylie University of South Florida



Physical Education, Cultural Competence, Urban Education, Urban Schools


Much literature cites how cultural clashes among teachers and students can undermine educational processes and cause feelings of mistrust among students in school settings. This research examined the cultural competence of secondary PE teachers who taught in diverse urban schools. The research questions guiding the study were (1) what do urban teachers know about students and the community they serve? (2) what instances of cultural distance exist between teachers and students in these schools? and (3) how do teachers bridge cultural distance between themselves and their students? Using qualitative research methods, we examined the cultural competence of six purposively sampled PE teachers in an urban school district over one school year. Participants were recruited based on recommendations from the PE supervisor in a large metropolitan school district in the Southeastern United States. Data collection included multiple interviews (n = 36), teaching observations and field notes (n = 18), and teaching workshops (n = 4).

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Author Biographies

Sara B. Flory, University of South Florida

Sara Barnard Flory is an Associate Professor of Physical Education. She received her doctorate from Wayne State University, where she completed her studies in Teaching in Secondary Education with an emphasis on physical education and health.  Sara received her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Movement Science and Athletic Training from the University of Michigan in 2000 and a Master’s degree from Wayne State in 2005.

Rebecca A. Wylie, University of South Florida

Rebecca Wylie is currently pursuing her doctorate degree at the University of South Florida in the College of Education. Her degree is concentrated in the Department of Teaching and Learning where she is specializing in Physical Education. She also serves as a graduate teaching assistant. She currently not only teaches classes such as Motor Development and Applied Exercise Science but, also assists with supervision of pre-service physical education teachers.