Focusing elementary students with active classrooms: exploring teachers’ perceptions of self-initiated practices

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Christine A. Foran Cynthia Mannion Gayle Rutherford


The aim of our study was to explore the perceptions of elementary teachers who routinely prioritized physical activity in their classrooms. Researchers are reporting improved student academic test results following physical activity sessions, however, classroom teachers are challenged in balancing curricular and other expectations. Hence, teachers who voluntarily implement physical activity have views that are unique and important for promoting the practice to others. We interviewed seven teachers from grades 1-6, using the qualitative constructivist approach to grounded theory qualitative research. Teachers valued physical activity because it enhanced their students’ focus on classroom activities. Common attributes amongst the teachers were active lifestyles, previous employment experiences using physical activity, and a pedagogical approach prioritizing physical activity throughout the day. Additionally, the teachers perceived that belonging to schools with a culture of movement was important. Teachers view physical activity as a teaching asset when they perceive a positive impact on their students’ ability to focus. Specific teacher attributes and a school environment that embraces physical activity may predispose teachers to these views, and represent areas that should be further explored. Pre-service courses could be one way to provide teachers with experience and a repertoire of easy physical activities.


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FORAN, Christine A.; MANNION, Cynthia; RUTHERFORD, Gayle. Focusing elementary students with active classrooms: exploring teachers’ perceptions of self-initiated practices. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, [S.l.], v. 10, n. 1, p. 61-69, oct. 2017. ISSN 1307-9298. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 20 oct. 2017.


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