What is it like to Teach in Rural Schools?

New teachers and those considering a move may be questioning where they want to teach.  While, teaching in inner cities can lead to a host of problems, teachers will also face problems if they decide to teach in rural schools. There are still school districts in the United States that have graduating classes of less than 20 students and there are schools that meet in small buildings used by the original settlers to those areas. There are programs designed to help meet the growing need for teachers in rural areas, but there are considerations that should be made prior to accepting a position in a rural school.

Students of Different Ages

According to the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, one of the main problems facing rural teachers is the number of students they teach. Many of these schools are so small that a teacher will lead a class that includes kids from multiple grades in a single room. Creating lesson plans that appeal to all those students is difficult, and you may have a hard time giving each student the information and one on one support that he or she needs.

No Specialization Required

Education majors often select the age range and subject they want to teach. You can take courses that prepare you for teaching junior high math, elementary art, high school history or any other combination of classes and ages. When you teach in rural schools, you won’t often have to choose a specialization. Instead of selecting one age range and subject, you’ll need to work with students from a number of different grades. Many schools also ask that teachers working in rural districts agree to teach multiple subjects as well.

Lack of Students

A city or suburban school can easily have thousands of students in each grade. As a teacher in one of those schools, you might only work with a small percentage of the students in that grade. Rural teachers often find that there are many less students in their schools. Some rural schools have graduating classes of just a handful of students, and you might see less than 300 students in the entire school. Many of these schools are so small that each building is home to elementary, middle and high school aged students.

Repeat Faces

Working as a rural school teacher does have some benefits though, including the idea that you’ll see the same students year after year. Even in a larger rural school, you might be the only history or math teacher that students work with from the time they start seventh grade to the time they graduate. This lets you form better relationships with those students and make more of an impact in their lives. Those smaller areas also have a good sense of community. There are some teachers working in rural areas who teach for generations and have the children and grandchildren of former students in their classrooms.

Rural areas exist in states all across the country and some of these school districts are home to less than a few hundred students. Teachers working in these areas have more of an impact on the education of their students. Those who teach in rural schools can expect to teach multiple age groups and subjects and have much smaller classes.