The Rural Schools Collaborative hosted an Open Forum for young rural educators during the 2020 National Rural Education Association’s annual conference, which was held virtually last November. The dialogue was part of the I Am a Rural Teacher national advocacy campaign, funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Forum was facilitated by our partners from the Teton Science Schools, who guided educators in considering the following essential questions regarding:
- What are the educational policy issues that are important to you? What would you like policy makers to know about being a rural teacher?
- What are some ideas in regards to creating an infrastructure or network to ensure that your voices are heard?
- What’s the biggest challenge that you’re facing as a rural educator?
Together, over 25 young educators from over 16 different states and an international educator from Uganda, came together to share their insights about what it means to be a rural teacher.
Needs & Challenges
Most Mentioned: Equity: Resources, Funding, Broadband Access, Staffing Support
Another Key Topic: State of teacher housing and how that relates to long commutes
Also Mentioned: Mental Health Issues
Most Mentioned: Legislators needs to experience the real world of schooling
Another Key Topic: Awareness of multiple community roles educators fill
- Legislators must understand how essential teachers are to the rural workforce
- Recognizing that rural communities are diverse, unique
- A better understanding of rural poverty
- Addressing transportation/remoteness issues
Most Mentioned: Continue to connect young educators through purposeful networking and action steps forum
Another Key Topic: Amplify the Voice of Educators
- Teacher Education programs should provide more rural “exposure”
- Work toward developing a stronger sense of a rural future (place)
- How to use social media productively
- Strengthen rural teacher recruitment
Thank you to everyone who participated in this event. These kinds of conversations inform the work of the National Rural Education Association and the Rural Schools Collaborative. As part of the ongoing I Am a Rural Teacher national advocacy campaign, this work will elevate the voices of rural teachers and should lead to thoughtful actions on the part of policymakers.
RSC and its partners are purposefully committed to supporting young, rural teacher leaders who believe that schools and students should play a vital role in developing sustainable and healthy rural communities. Learn more about our Young Educators' Advisory Council: YEA.