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Creating positive inclusion environments in physical education

Coaching and Teaching Studies doctoral student Maggie Roberts is passionate about working with students and helping them progress through their own learning experience. Roberts says the WVU degree program has opened new doors and provided opportunities for future work and experiences. 

What program are you enrolled in at WVU?

Coaching and Teaching Studies, EdD

How did you become interested in this field of study?

My individual area of research is currently in the adapted physical education field. While I was teaching high school Health, PE and Driver Education, I was approached about piloting a class called Champions Together. The idea was to combine the adapted PE class with an advanced PE class and work toward participating in Unified Sports through Special Olympics.

It seemed like an excellent opportunity to promote inclusion in PE, but it ended up changing the entire school environment. Students who had previously been ignored or passed over in the hallways were being given high-fives and spoken to by all students, not just the ones in the class. Students were not only being included by the general population, they were making real friends. This experience catapulted my decision to go back to school and continue to research and progressive inclusion environments for all learners and abilities in physical education.

Please describe what you do in a typical day.

Currently, I am a graduate teaching assistant and a second-year doctoral student. My day-to-day varies. Usually it consists of either teaching or taking classes with long hours spent in between working on assignments, papers or planning.

What is your favorite part of your job? What is the most challenging?

Teaching is by far the best part of my job. Working with students and helping them progress through their own learning experience is highly rewarding. At the same time, it does have highly challenging moments.

Why did you choose WVU?

Stepping on to campus for the first time was a major part of my decision to come to WVU. The program was suggested by a professor at a different university and after researching more about the faculty and program, the fit seemed right. When I came to visit, everyone was welcoming and incredibly helpful. After observing classes of PETE students and speaking with faculty and graduate students, there was no competition. I wanted to be a part of WVU's program for my final degree.

How does this graduate degree fit in to your life plans?

When I initially began this journey, it was my goal to eventually work at a university/college as a professor in a physical education teacher education program. While continuing to work toward that goal, this degree continues to open new doors and provide opportunities for future work and experiences.

What have you learned that has made the biggest impact in your work or studies?

Before beginning this degree, my research work has been limited. Reading and exploring literature and the work of others in the field has made me appreciate where coaching and teaching has been and the direction it is heading. Understanding that the power of change takes time can be met by some push back or can feel stationary. It is important to create a positive inclusion environment that can be sustained.

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