What Are the Requirements to Become a Gym Teacher?

Gym teachers, also called physical education teachers, provide students in kindergarten through 12th grade instruction in physical fitness, sports, and health. Requirements for becoming a gym teacher vary by state. This article discusses educational and professional requirements for becoming a gym teacher. Schools offering Athletic Coaching degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Duties and Responsibilities

Gym teachers teach physical education to students in kindergarten through 12th grade, focusing on physical activities suitable for each grade level. The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) says that physical education is important for students because it helps them develop the tools they need to live a healthy, active lifestyle. As a gym teacher, you would help foster this goal by teaching teamwork and social skills, improving students' physical coordination, and providing feedback on students' performance in these and other areas.

Education

Before becoming a gym teacher, you must obtain a bachelor's degree, such as a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science, with a major in education and a concentration or second major in physical education. Schools also offer degrees in physical education that may or may not include the required teacher training and student teaching experience. In addition to learning teaching methods in these programs, you'll learn how to perform physical activity correctly to avoid injury. Thus, physical education degree programs include instruction in specific activities, such as tennis, running, gymnastics, and soccer, as well as courses in educational development and psychology. Other courses in four-year physical education programs might include:

  • Kinesiology
  • Nutrition
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Human development
  • Adapted physical education

Licensure and Certification

In addition to fulfilling educational requirements, you'll need to obtain a license from your state board of education before you may teach in the public school system. To become licensed, you'll need to complete an undergraduate program, an approved teacher training program, a period of supervised classroom experience, and pass a basic competency examination. Some states may require you to obtain a master's degree in education after you begin teaching. Requirements vary by state; check with your state board of education for specific mandates in your area.

Although earning a license is mandatory, certification is voluntary and is seen as more of a professional achievement as opposed to a formal educational requirement. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offers voluntary certification in early and middle childhood physical education and in early adolescence through young adulthood physical education. Some states offer incentives, such as higher pay or bonuses, for teachers who become certified in their field.

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