Source: The Teacher Educator, Volume 50, Issue 1, p. 67–86, 2015
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article describes a case study about how teacher education might better prepare rural teacher candidates for rural schools.
The author used qualitative case study methodology. The study was conducted in a small, remote community, which is located in the Northeastern United States.
The participants included a principal, a recent graduate both of the school and a university teacher preparation program, practicing teachers, parents, and grandparents.
The author employed three methods of data collection: semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and document review.
The author expected that the participants would mention instructional issues such as the importance of content knowledge, data driven instruction, or multi-subject certifications. Instead it was found that only the principal mentioned these anticipated topics.
The author interpreted the participants’ descriptions of their school and community to mean that successful teaching and learning in this school requires an understanding of the rural context as a unique site of practice as a starting place.
Furthermore, it was found that teachers’ and children’s shared rural lives enable connections both personal and academic fostered by the connectedness of the school with the community. The author argues that teaching is about relationships, but the participants in this study developed relationships with students in ways facilitated by their lives shared in this rural community. The participants perceived the school as a place constituted by cultural activities and relationships.
The author said that the participants’ description of these and other important issues in rural schools and communities suggested direction for programs of teacher preparation.
The author concludes that participants emphasized the importance of personal relationships, relationships both within the school and the relationship between the school and community. However, it was found that the participants in this study also perceived school and community as a site of ambiguity and ambivalence, a site of strategy, negotiation, and resistance. The authors suggests that teacher candidates should be prepared to learn about rural communities in ways that do not reinstate deficit perspectives and increase the likelihood that they will choose rural teaching appointments.