View the full PDF here.
On June 13-14, a group of rural school and community activists gathered on the campus of Dakota Wesleyan University to discuss how they might create a better future for their rural schools and communities. At the center of their discussions was the essential question: How do we work together to strengthen the recruitment, preparation, and placement/retention of future rural teacher-leaders?
People showed up, not because Mitchell, SD was an exotic location or because attending was a path to career advancement. They showed up because they wanted to figure out how they might be part of an effort to develop rural teacher corps that focus on filling rural schools with talented teacher-leaders. They showed up because they care about rural schools and communities.
Participants left with project ideas, which they intend to work on in their own individual schools, communities, and colleges. They formed a network dedicated to cause, and provided valuable insights to the Rural Schools Collaborative on how they can help inspire the development and success of more rural teacher corps projects.
The basic recommendations were as follows (again, you can view the report in its entirety here)
1. How we work together to bolster the recruitment of future teacher-leaders:
- develop a network of positive role models to encourage people to become rural teachers
- reframe the rural narrative; emphasize the positive aspect of the rural experience
- focus on efforts that recruit students during their actual K-12 years
- develop efforts to recruit mid-career professionals who may be tied to a given community
- seek opportunities to formulate programs that include scholarship incentives for future teachers to commit to rural teaching placements
- speak to the community and public roles of educators--create a more mission-driven dialogue
2. How we work together to enhance the preparation of future rural teacher-leaders.
- offer more real life and intensive experiences in rural schools
- rural teacher education programs need to be more "futuristic"
- build a stronger focus on the teacher as a respected professional
- preparation should include being a community member
3. How we work together on placement and retention issues.
- communities must convey to new or potential teachers that they are or will be a valued part of the overall community
- there must be intentional efforts to connect new teachers to the social fabric of a given community
- mentorship programs that pair new teachers with "true" teacher-leaders should be implemented
- explore collaborating with community foundations and private foundations to provide incentives for new rural teacher to into graduate education
- conduct external evaluations on why teachers leave rural settings