The evolution of a teacher candidate into a professional educator does not occur overnight. Rather, it is a slow, steady, empowering journey that unfolds over several years, with teacher candidates receiving support and encouragement from mentor teachers and university faculty alike. Through it all, teacher candidates learn just as many lessons as they teach, ideally with one overarching principle repeatedly impressed upon them: that they must serve all learners.
This is no small task, as today’s educators enter increasingly diverse schools. This diversity creates wonderful learning opportunities for all, but it also presents its fair share of challenges. Teachers will encounter students with disabilities. They will encounter students who are gifted and talented. They will encounter students from low-income families. They will encounter students from various racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as students who do not speak English as a first language.
A new study from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest has reaffirmed many of the challenges related to recruiting and retaining educators in rural areas. The report, Indicators of Successful Teacher Recruitment and Retention in Oklahoma Rural School Districts (download PDF here), examines data spanning a decade in Oklahoma districts, more than 70% of which are rural.
The analysis finds that two key influences on teacher retention are compensation and teachers’ level of responsibility at their school. Numerous other factors affecting retention are catalogued in the appendices of the report, organized into categories of teacher, district, and community-based variables. Educator preparation programs that collaborate with rural districts may want to review the study’s findings for insights that might be applied to their own local challenges.
The author is chair of AACTE’s newly formed “Preparing Teachers for Rural Schools and Communities” topical action group. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.
Rural schools and communities may appear as little more than blips on a map, known perhaps for their relaxed pace of life but largely anonymous to the rest of the world. In reality, though, these communities are a critical thread that holds our country together, and preparing educators for the unique needs of rural students and schools is a vital task.
The U.S. Department of Education has announced a new competition for the Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grant program. After consultations with tribal communities and officials, the Department has designed this grant cycle to focus on improving the outcomes of students in tribal and rural populations.
For this competition, the Department expects to award three to five grants averaging $1 million each. Interested parties have until June 22 to submit their notice of intent to apply; completed applications are due by July 7.
It is no secret that South Carolina has faced many challenges related to education. Most recently, a shortage of teachers has been severely affecting the most vulnerable regions of South Carolina: our rural and poverty-stricken regions. In a state where most students live below the poverty level, there are some unsung heroes doing their best with the lowest of means, but we desperately need to improve our recruitment and retention of professional educators.
One way the state is supporting this goal is through Proviso 1A.73, also known as the Rural Teacher Recruiting Incentive. The FY16 budget allows for $1.5 million to be spent on this plan. The Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement (CERRA) at Winthrop University along with the South Carolina Department of Education and the Education Oversight Committee has been charged with the responsibility to develop the initiative, and CERRA Executive Director Jane Turner submitted the plan for the first year in January 2016 with multiple components: