Rural and urban teaching experiences of eight prairie teachers
Preston, Jane Pauline
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The focus of this study was to describe rural and urban education from the perspective of teachers. Participant teachers reflected upon their rural and urban teaching experiences and described, through narratives and personal examples, various aspects of rural and urban education. Through this process, participants answered the research question: “What are the experiences and perspectives of teachers with respect to teaching in rural and urban environments?” Data were collected via semi-structured interviews which were used to help understand the lived experiences of the participants. Based on this qualitative study, numerous characteristics of rural and urban education were highlighted. The participants indicated that rural schools were often closely linked to their community. As a result, many of these teachers could more easily individualize their instruction because they were familiar with the personal lives of their students. Within the rural schools highlighted in this study, lower enrolments and a smaller staff posed challenges, and a limited range of academic programs were offered. Student participation in extracurricular activities was more prominent in this study’s rural schools, and the expectations for teachers’ involvement in extracurricular activities and supervision were high. As with rural education, when the participants described urban education, they emphasized the importance of building strong school-community relationships. Also, this research showed that the larger enrollments of the urban schools highlighted in this study meant these schools were responsible for a greater variety of student needs, both academically and socially. Classroom management was more of an issue for the urban teachers of this study, and the parents of their urban students were often less directly involved within the school. Participants indicated, as urban teachers, they had more opportunities to specialize in their subject area and enjoyed easier access to professional development opportunities. The participants of this study described the academic abilities of urban students to be similar to those of rural students; however, the participants noted urban students to be open to a greater variety of future career choices.There are similar issues surrounding education, whether rural or urban. This study highlighted this point in a number of ways. First this research reflected that close ties between school and community enhanced the pertinence of curriculum content. This indicates that schools need to take advantage of the academic, personal, and cultural resources provided within the community. Another central issue of this study indicated that a teacher’s background and experience, as well as his or her knowledge of the student’s and community’s culture affected the way a teacher acts and handles various teaching situations. A final aspect of this study showed that the roles and responsibilities of teachers are diverse. A teacher assumes such roles as educator, counselor, social worker, consultant, coach, role model, and active community member.
DegreeMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
CommitteeWimmer, Randy; Ralph, Edwin; McVittie, Janet
Copyright DateSeptember 2006