Story submitted by Holly Higgins, Eastern Illinois University
The Eastern Illinois University Rural Teacher Corps is a student group on EIU’s campus that helps preservice teachers develop a rural identity, understand the challenges rural schools face, and build connections with rural schools. Due to the pandemic, the EIU RTC has had to revamp how we connect with rural schools. Last year, we visited schools, worked on place-based projects with teachers and administrators, and had several professional development opportunities for students. This year, we are learning how to accomplish these events online.
This semester, we have had two professional learning opportunities so far. Mrs. Janette VanMeter, a third grade teacher in Charleston, Illinois, met with the EIU RTC and the New Teacher Corps via Zoom on October 13th. She spoke about family engagement while teaching remotely. Additionally, on October 20th, the EIU RTC hosted educators from the area via Zoom to discuss their experience with remote learning. We learned what worked for them, what didn’t, and what they have learned from teaching remotely.
We have also tried to connect the RTC members with local schools. We are in the process of planning a virtual site visit with Martinsville School District, so students have the opportunity to see a glimpse of what a rural school can be like. A few RTC members also met with a group of students from Neoga High School who are interested in being teachers on October 20th via Google Meets. We discussed life at EIU, what the teacher education process is like, and how being a part of the EIU RTC has helped shape us as educators.
Eventually, we would like to have these events in person, but for now, we are learning and adapting to the world around us. We will continue to build new strategies that allow us to safely connect preservice teachers with rural schools, in hope that we can help preservice teachers see why they should become rural educators.
Learn more about how the Rural Schools Collaborative promotes the "rural teacher corps" initiative: https://ruralschoolscollaborat...