Schools, Communities, and Teachers

How Rural Sense of Belonging Holds Impact for English Teachers in Place




This paper examines how English teachers experience and articulate a rural sense of belonging (RSOB) while teaching and living in rural communities. Given that rurality is a social construct, teachers’ inclusion in this study occurred through meeting nuanced rural criteria. RSOB is a relationship people have with rurality that helps English teachers consider how they experience and feel about their work and lives in place. This study adds complexity to dynamic RSOB by attending to affective intensities associated with teachers’ daily interactions across ruralities. Data include survey responses from 30 participating teachers with varied experience, in rural schools within the United States. Using a narrative methodology, authors analyse teachers’ stories, invested in how their experiences living and teaching rural shapes their work as English teachers. Findings focus on how (if) participants self-identify as rural English teachers and/or rural community members, how participants experience teaching, and how participants navigate schools and communities. Findings offer a richer understanding of how English teachers persist or depart in rural spaces, and how an evolving RSOB (or lack thereof) plays a part. When RSOB is strong, teaching in rural schools becomes less a matter of resilience and survival and more about acceptance or acknowledgement, purpose, and value. Teachers expressed a bifurcation between how they feel valued in schools versus how they feel valued in communities. Implications recommend more open dialogue with rural stakeholders to reconsider the roles of rural teachers inside and outside of schools.




How to Cite

Wynhoff Olsen, A., Fassbender, W., Long, D., & Olsen, K. (2022). Schools, Communities, and Teachers: How Rural Sense of Belonging Holds Impact for English Teachers in Place. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 32(2), 108–125.