Physical education teacher resilience in high-poverty school environments

Douglas W. Ellison, Amelia Mays Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to investigate how the organizational context within high-poverty schools influences physical education (PE) teacher resilience. This study used an exploratory multiple case study design grounded in resilience theory. School administrators can create environments that either support or inhibit teachers’ attitudes about their jobs by the organizational structures and cultures they create in schools and through the relationships they foster. Because teacher attrition has a negative influence on the educational system, especially in high-poverty schools, providing resources to build resilience in teachers is critical to their professional success and development. Although literature exists related to PE teacher attrition, little work has focused on the reasons that they may remain in their role as a PE teacher. Understanding the facilitators and barriers to PE teacher resilience may aid in alleviating PE teacher attrition in high-poverty schools. The teacher participants (n = 10) and school administrators (n = 4) were chosen from six schools (five elementary schools and two middle schools) from two (one urban, one rural) high-poverty school districts (identified by having at least 90% of students eligible for free and reduced price lunch) in the Midwestern US. Two main themes surfaced regarding teachers’ resilience capacity: (a) school culture – the inconsistency in perceived leadership and support; and (b) elevated teacher turnover.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1110-1127
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Physical Education Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • Resilience
  • educational administration
  • physical education teachers
  • poverty
  • teacher turnover

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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