Rural administrators who want to better prepare and support a culturally diverse teaching force need to vary recruitment strategies, seek partnerships, and promote a culture of collaboration, according to a new study.
Those are among a list of suggestions in “Teacher Identity in a Multicultural Rural School: Lessons Learned at Vista Charter,” published in the Journal of Research in Rural Education. The study involved over two years of research at a high-poverty, bilingual, elementary charter school in rural eastern Oregon. Seven of the 12 teachers at the school (called “Vista Charter” in the report, though not the real name) are bilingual.
The report focuses heavily on the teachers’ backgrounds and exploring the five core beliefs they shared: all teachers were valued and valuable, all teachers expected to learn from the diverse student body and teaching staff, all expected to collaborate for professional development, that “we teach who we are,” and that the school was a safe place to grow as a teacher. In addition to these, the researchers also culled tips for both rural school administrators and teacher educators. Some of these tips include:
- Vary recruitment strategies—try to “homegrow” diverse teachers, including targeting good second-career candidates from the local community, rather than pursuing more traditional routes for teacher recruitment.
- Support teachers in the multiple roles they serve.
- Evaluate the school mission so that it incorporates students’ multicultural competencies.
- Provide teacher-selected professional development.
- Know the community, the families, and get them involved. This includes tapping the vast knowledge of the paraeducator network established—many paraeducators have intimate knowledge of both the community and the students they serve.
To read the full study, please visit http://www.jrre.psu.edu/articles/27-5.pdf