"Please Help Me Find Teachers for My Rural and Remote School"
A Model for Teaching Readiness
Keywords:rural, remote, staffing, preservice teachers, mentoring
Attracting and retaining teachers in regional, rural and remote (RRR) communities has long been highlighted as problematic in Australia. With predicted growth in classrooms across the nation, it is expected that there will be increased teacher shortages in RRR communities. Specific, contextual preparation for teaching has been advocated for preservice teachers through a flexible tertiary education curriculum linked to RRR professional experiences. This current case study involves a school-university collaboration commencing after a school principal in Queensland was unable to attract teachers to his RRR school. The aim of this research was to explore the learning of five preservice teachers in a RRR school community. Data were gathered using in-depth semi-structured interviews, then analysed and discussed under three categories: community, school, and classroom. Findings indicated that the preservice teachers gained usable knowledge about the community, understanding the role of community and connecting with the community as a teacher in RRR contexts. They learned the significance of the connection between the school and the community, the importance of the teachers' relationships in supporting the students, and the role of parents and carers in the school. Finally, the preservice teachers reported they learnt pedagogical knowledge practices (e.g., planning, classroom management, and assessment), building relationships with students, differentiated instruction, supporting diversity, and teaching Indigenous students. This case study presents a cost-effective measure for ensuring RRR schools are adequately staffed and facilitating preservice teachers' achievements of the Australian Professional Standards for Teaching.
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