Making the impossible, possible: Lessons learnt to ensure embodied physical education teacher education within COVID-19 times and beyond, regardless of the learning medium

Dr. Kristy Howells*, Dr. Alison Murray, Julie Pearson, Emma Whewell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


This think piece discusses and examines how four teacher educators made what seemed like the impossible, possible. Through robust analysis of Newell’s (1986) theoretical framework of constraints, we focused on developing innovative, creative, meaningful ideas to continue to effectively teach primary student teachers (students) how to teach physical education. This feat was attempted and attained in the absence of facilities, often without equipment and at times solely online. Physical education is understood through an embodied lived experience. Our findings share new ways of how to use constraints as a means to proactively attend to unforeseen subject enactment. We used the lens of the individual, environmental and task constraints to have positive lived embodied experiences of physical education. We found this was possible if the learning: was student centred; involved both student choice and voice; included sense making activities; involved team building collaborative activities and facilitated required digital fluency. We offer our thoughts as contextually framing guidance. We aspire to support and inspire the next generation of teachers in teaching physical education competently and confidently through all types of learning mediums that may be required in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalContemporary Issues in Practitioner Education
Early online date2 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Dr Kristy Howells Kristy is a Reader in Sport Pedagogy and Physical Education. She lectures physical education primary teacher education. She is also a researcher who focuses on young children’s physical education, physical activity, sport sciences, mental health, diet and fluid intake. She also co-leads the Early Years SIG for AIESEP. LinkedIn Twitter @KristyHowells1
Dr Alison Murray Alison is a Senior Lecturer and Subject Lead in Primary (Elementary) Physical Education, who specialises in complexity, connectiveness and collaboration to bring creative Physical Education to life. She is also a track and field coach and researcher in metacognition.
Dr Julie Pearson Julie is a Senior Lecturer at St Mary’s University. She is the Course Lead for the Primary PGCE (M) PE Specialism course and for Primary PE. Her value-led research is about developing a culture of care within educational settings, especially within PE.
Dr Emma Whewell Emma is an Associate Professor of Learning and Teaching. She is Deputy Subject Leader for Sport and Exercise and the Programme Leader for the Physical Education and Sport degree. Her research focuses upon teacher identity, physical education, mental health, digital pedagogies and active digital learning.


  • Physical Education
  • Teacher Education
  • embodied
  • collaborative learning
  • General Medicine


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