Teacher experience of rurality
Community
Schools
Classroom
Preparing for a rural career
Module 1: Understanding rurality
Module 2: Understanding place
Module 3: Understanding rural teacher identity
Module 4: Working with communities
Module 5: Getting to know rural students' lives
Module 6: Professional experience
menu 4.4.1
menu 4.4.2
menu 4.4.3
menu 4.4.4
Module 7: Advice in getting a job

Practicum

Pre-service teachers gain their greatest insights into teaching through authentic experiences.  A practicum experience provides an effective way to develop an understanding of teaching and living in a rural or regional community. 

Teacher educators are encouraged to select experiences that both suit their subject or practicum preparation requirements, and enable pre-service teachers to engage authentically with rural and regional schools and communities.

Practicum can be divided into three phases:

Resources:

Forlin, C. & Lock, G. (2010). Employing Technologies to Engage Students with Diverse Needs in Rural School Communities. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 31:1, Article 4. Available from: http://ro.ecu.edu.au/ajte/vol31/iss1/4/

Somerville, M., Plunkett, M. & Dyson, M. (2010). New teachers learning in rural and regional Australia. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 38(1): 39 - 55. 

Preparation

Attention to comprehensive preparation of, and by preservice teachers will enable them to become agents of their own professional learning and better equip them for rural and regional professional experiences.  Thorough preparation will enable them to enhance the quality of the learning outcomes for students, staff and the community in which they are placed.

Strategies and activities for pre-service teachers
Strategy 1 – Getting to know community demographics
Investigate the community and school in which you will be working by completing a search using Google and/or other search engines or sites such as My.School, Australian Early Development Index, Australian Bureau of Statistics, so that you have current background knowledge of the school and community. You need to consider issues of social space so that you can bring/prepare appropriate place-based teaching resources. Consider issues in the rural sector that impact on schools – the shearing, planting/harvest time, climate?

Sample activity

Strategy 2 - Getting to know community resources and services
Investigate accommodation, banking, retail options that might be available to you if you are to undertake a placement in this location. Sites such as ISSU (under the link for Teach in Remote Queensland) provide answers to the kinds of questions that you should consider when planning for teaching in a rural or regional location. What questions do you need to ask and answer as part of your preparation for your placement?

Sample activity

Strategy 3 - Preparing a CV
Prepare a brief CV outlining what you bring to the school and community. You have been provided with a template to assist you in this process. In the CV, you will need to consider not only what you hope to learn while undertaking your placement but also how you can make a positive contribution to the learning of students, staff and wider community.

Sample activity

Strategy 4 - Preparing to build relationships
While you have attended to many pragmatic issues to support a successful placement you also need to have effective workplace relationships skills. Consider the following as you prepare for your rural experience:

Sample activity

 Outline the benefits to you from these experiences and how they might be useful in a rural and regional professional experience placement?

Strategy 5 – Preparing to travel
If you are undertaking a traditional placement in an unfamiliar regional or rural location, working your way through the following tasks may be useful:

GETTING THERE SAFELY CHECKLIST:

Participation

Once pre-service teachers have agreed to undertake a professional placement in a rural or remote location, it is your responsibility to ensure they and the setting (staff, students and community) are supported during the placement.

Support may be communicated to schools and pre-service teachers through provision of the following:

This may also include an information package designed for pre-service teachers, containing:

Throughout the program teacher educators are encouraged to maintain contact with pre-service teachers and school staff.

Strategies and activities for pre-service teachers (continued)
You undertook an extensive investigation of the community and school before you arrived. You should now continue to develop that profile for the reflective phase of this placement.

Strategy 1 – Meeting national standards
There are a number of high quality web sites that can provide support to pre-service teachers who are undertaking a rural placement. Such resources will enable you to more effectively meet the national standards (& state-based registration) expected of the profession – maintaining your focus on quality teaching and learning outcomes for both self and students.

Strategy 2 – Discovering community life
Understanding and experiencing the community is part of the practicum. Consider what aspects of community/school life you discovered when you arrived of which you were previously unaware? Are you able to make use of these in your teaching/learning? What features are no longer in use and in what way has the school & community adjusted to these changes ( see Changing Social Space reflection).

Sample activity

Strategy 3 – Identifying support networks
While on placement your should maintain links with peers, university staff for support either in real time by phone, chat rooms or Skype or in virtual time via emails or forum postings, Blogs, twitter.  You are also likely to discover new supports.

Sample activity

Strategy 4 – Identifying educational opportunities
In every setting the educational facilities available to residents will differ. Awareness of what is available locally will help you tap into resources, link students with opportunities beyond the school and ensure that your practice reflects student need. There may be gaps that you can address.

Sample activity

Reflection

Opportunities for pre-service teachers to debrief post-placement are vital. You may wish to lead discussions about:

To ensure that positive relationships are maintained with placement schools, it is also important to provide genuine opportunities for schools/sites to provide feedback in relation to the experience. Where necessary, this feedback can be used to introduce program reform.

Strategies and activities for pre-service teachers (continued)
Strategy 1 – Sharing your experience
Share, deconstruct and celebrate your rural experience with others as part of debriefing; to set future goals – personal, professional and pedagogical as a process of learning as being transformational. What were the benefits for you for having participated in the rural and regional professional experience? Also consider what unexpected challenges you encountered? How were you able to overcome them? What sources of support were you able to draw upon at the time?

Sample activity

Strategy 2 – Maintaining contact
Maintain contact with your school beyond the conclusion of the program and encourage the school to provide feedback about the overall program – preparedness, learning & contribution – to the community.

Sample activity

Assessment Items

The form of assessment will depend on the type of rural experience pre-service teachers participated in.

The following assessment tasks may be relevant for pre-service teachers in your program:

Preparation phase
Creation of a hypothetical class list for a class in the particular school/community that you have researched as part of your studies (could be from simulated class, field visit, web-based investigation). Develop a framework for an integrated place-based teaching program for that class for a 3 week period.

Participation phase
Reflective journal – This task requires pre-service teachers to examine their preconceptions and lived experiences as well as deconstruct the placement. Pre-service teachers may be encouraged to include images and anonymised student work samples, being mindful of legal and ethical considerations.

Case Study of a site/ classroom/ community

Reflection phase
Professional Experience Assessment report – report to be completed by mentor teacher/s based on the pre-service teacher’s demonstrated teaching competence and matched to graduate teaching standards.