Teacher experience of rurality
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

Module 4: Understanding working with rural and regional communities

Focus: Understanding community partnerships and stepping up to leadership


  1. Know about and have strategies to work collaboratively with colleagues, school support staff, other professionals and community‐based personnel to enhance student learning and wellbeing in rural and regional contexts.
  2. Appreciate the opportunities and challenges of teaching in rural and regional contexts particularly in relation to leadership in the school and wider community.


Key readings

Australian Rural Leadership Foundation. (2010). Leadership development for rural Australians. Available from: http://www.rural-leaders.com.au/

Carrington, K. & Marshall, N. (2008). Building multicultural social capital in regional Australia. Rural Society, 18(2): 117-130. Available from: http://rsj.e-contentmanagement.com/archives/vol/18/issue/2/article/2338/building-multicultural-social-capital-in-regional

Clarke, S. & Stevens, E. (2009). Sustainable leadership in small rural schools: Selected Australian vignettes. Journal of Educational Change, 10(4): 277-293.

Cox, R. (2008). The fibro school by the swamp: The author's recollections of his first teaching appointment in Maria River, near Kempsey. Quadrant, 52(6): 92-94.

Engels, N., Hotton, G., Devos, G., Bouckenooghe, D. & Aelterman, A. (2008). Principals in schools with a positive school culture. Educational Studies, 34(3): 159-174.

Ewington, J., Mulford, B., Kendall, D., Edmunds, B., Kendall, L. & Silins, H. (2008). Successful school principalship in small schools. Journal of Educational Administration, 46(5): 545-561. Available from: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=1740468&show=abstract

Gilbert, C., Skinner, J. & Dempster, N. (2008). Expectations of successful female small school principals. Leading and Managing, 14(1): 72-91. Available from: http://www.curriculum.edu.au/leader/abstracts,58.html?issueID=11469

Giorgas, D. (2007). The significance of social capital for rural and remote communities. Rural Society, 17(3): 206-214.

Graham, L., Miller. J. & Paterson, D. (2009). Early career leadership opportunities in Australian rural schools. Education in Rural Australia, 19(3): 26-36. Available from: http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Early+career+leadership+opportunities+in+Australian+rural+schools.-a0219589163

Johns, S., Kilpatrick, S., Falk, I. & Mulford, B. (2000). School contribution to rural communities: Leadership issues. Launceston, Tasmania: Centre for Research and Learning in Rural Australia.

Kelly, A. (2008). The chameleon principal: a reconceptualisation of the notion of leadership as seen within the context of a rural primary school and its community. Unpublished Thesis, Australian Catholic University Digital Theses. Available from: http://dlibrary.acu.edu.au/digitaltheses/public/adt-acuvp189.09122008/

Miller, J., Graham, L. & Paterson, D. (2006). Bush tracks: Viewing teachers' experiences of leadership in rural schools through a contextual lens. Education in Rural Australia, 16(2): 31-45.

Queensland Government Education Queensland. (2009). Welcoming and inducting new principals and school staff in rural and remote communities, Education Queensland: Brisbane, QLD. Available from: http://education.qld.gov.au/ruralandremote/doc/inducting_new_principals.doc

Starr, K., and White, S. (2008). The small rural school principalship: Key challenges and cross-school responses. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 23:1-11. Available from: http://www.jrre.psu.edu/articles/23-5.pdf

Some suggested activities

These activities are designed to be used by teacher educators with their students in tutorial workshops.


What particular social/cultural capital do you bring to a school setting? How can you use your strengths to bring about positive outcomes for the students you teach and the broader community?


View the various clips in Guest Speaker - what particular leadership qualities are required of a beginning teacher in a rural/regional context?


Consider the advice below given to graduates by a rural principal.
What skills/knowledge and attitudes do you have that meet these leadership characteristics?

Advice from a rural principal...

Rural and regional school contexts can provide opportunities for graduate teachers to take up leadership roles and positions early in their career. Graduate teachers may have the opportunity to development of budgets, control of learning areas, acting in executive roles, participation in school based decision making and committees, liaising with external organisations, providing professional development

Consider the following advice....

As a teacher in a rural or regional school, graduates are more likely to work closely with colleagues in team environments. Graduates may be part of communities of practice working as stage/year-based teams on curriculum planning or cross-curricular or whole school initiatives. Graduates may also work closely with support staff (Indigenous education workers/Teacher Aides/Specialist staff) and other locally based professionals (eg psychs/ police/health) (Experienced teacher educator, 2011)

Interview a teacher in a rural/regional location and create a concept map to highlight the various people a rural teacher connects to as part of their everyday work.