Coast to Country
An Initiative Aimed at Changing Pre-service Teachers' Perceptions of Teaching in Rural and Remote Locations
Keywords:pre-service teachers, preparation, rural experience, attraction
For more than a decade, it has become more of a challenge to both attract and retain quality pre-service teachers to both rural and remote locations within Australia. Many pre-service teachers are reluctant to leave a preferred metropolitan location to undertake a rural or remote professional experience and often have negative views concerning employment in rural or remote locations.
It has become apparent that higher education institutions and State Education Departments need to address new initiatives to encourage pre-service teachers to consider undertaking a teaching professional experience and then future employment in rural and remote locations.
One such initiative, introduced by a regional Queensland university, encourages pre-service teachers to experience new opportunities in rural locations for a five day experience, Coast to Country. This initiative is aimed at providing pre-service teachers with an experience of both living and working/teaching in rural communities and school environments through observing and teaching in rural classrooms and participating in school and community social events.
During the first year, nine primary education pre-service teachers in their first year applied and were accompanied by two university staff. During the second year, sixteen pre-service teachers in their first, second and third years across the early childhood, primary and secondary cohorts experienced this.
Written feedback was collected from the pre-service teachers and verbal feedback from the university staff, principals and school staff involved. All considered this a very worthwhile and positive experience and felt that it should continue. The feedback indicated that a five day rural or remote experience such as this can provide professional and social benefits to all concerned.
An experience such as Coast to Country can provide a sound basis for those pre-service teachers participating to allow them to make a more informed decision about living and working in a rural location based on real experience. Following this experience, the pre-service teachers were then much more inclined to want to experience a rural or remote opportunity for their future professional experiences.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Shirley Richards
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