For my latest piece for The Hechinger Report, I spoke to Ann Schulte and Rebecca Justeson from California State University, Chico, which ran a Rural Teacher Residency program from 2009 until earlier this year to introduce aspiring teachers to rural communities. Many aspects of that program have now been folded into the university’s regular teacher-preparation classes, where all students are learning certain principles of rural education. Here are a few ways teacher education schools can follow in CSU Chico’s footsteps.
- Give teacher candidates an opportunity to spend an entire school year observing and teaching with a mentor teacher in one rural community, rather than splitting the student teaching experience between multiple placements.
- Teach candidates about the strengths of rural communities, rather than deficits to build a positive perception of rural areas.
- Include rural schools and students when teaching candidates about underserved populations in education.
- Form partnerships between teacher education programs and rural teachers and administrators and use those relationships to learn more about what those schools need from new teachers.
Nationwide, several colleges or universities have launched programs aimed at training or supporting teachers in rural areas. The University of Hawaii at Manoa rolled out a program earlier this year that will provide virtual training to rural special education teachers in the state. The education school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has several programs that support rural schools and teachers. Some alternative training programs have also started programs for rural educators. Teach For America’s Rural School Leaders Academy, for example, is aimed at working with rural educators and preparing them for leadership positions.
Do you know of other programs dedicated to training teachers for rural education? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail!
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.