Most students planning to work as teachers after graduation imagine themselves working in urban or suburban schools, but some students may want to teach in rural schools. Rural schools are often smaller schools located in small towns and villages far away from major cities. Teaching in these communities is sometimes hard, and many teachers find themselves leaving and accepting other positions within a few short years. If you like the idea of teaching in a smaller town, you should get some idea of what you can expect.
Lack of Resources
One of the more common problems facing teachers in rural areas is a lack of resources. Schools often receive a larger portion of their funding through local taxes, and rural areas often have lower property values. Some teachers are so desperate for materials that they find themselves spending their own money to get pencils, paper and art supplies for students. The lack of resources may also apply to textbooks. Some schools use textbooks that are years or even decades old, and teachers must find ways to supplement those books with new and free materials to keep students informed.
More Duties and Responsibilities
If you want to teach in rural schools, you should also prepare yourself for taking on more duties and responsibilities. Unlike a suburban school where you might teach science to fifth graders and no other classes, rural teachers often teach multiple grades or subjects. There are still some smaller schools in the rural U.S. where students from multiple grades meet in the same classroom. Other schools require that teachers move with students, which means that you might teach the same kids from kindergarten through their later years. There is also a chance that the school might require you to lead activities and events outside of work hours.
The turnover rate among rural teachers is high, and many believe this is due to the cultural differences. Rural communities often have a high need for qualified teachers and accept teachers from major cities and towns. Those teachers often have a hard time fitting in and forming relationships with their students because they do not understand the lives of their students. Some students may miss multiple days of schools to help out on the farm, and other students may leave school early to marry and have children. Teachers must find a way to work with their students and understand their lifestyles.
Though rural schools still require that teachers have a license and a degree, those schools pay less than what you might make in a larger city. Some of those schools are so desperate for teachers that you can start working while still in school as long as you agree to meet the minimum requirements for teaching in the future. As those communities still need qualified teachers, the U.S. Department of Education introduced several programs that give rural schools more funding to get better supplies and better teachers.
Teaching in a rural school district is completely unlike teaching in a suburban or city school. You might find that you have fewer resources available and that you have a hard time connecting with your students. Those who do opt to teach in rural schools though often find that the job is rewarding and gives them the opportunity to form lasting relationships with their students.