Thursday, August 2, 9:00-10:00, SUB Ballroom A, Keynote Address

Research continues to tell the tale, that rural schools experience higher teacher shortages and staffing churn than their city counterparts. This story is reflected in most countries across the world. This presentation looks firstly at what we know about the global rural staffing ‘crisis’ phenomenon, exploring both the research and policy landscape across countries such as the US, Australia and Canada. Attention then turns to providing a range of counter-narratives where rural school communities have gone against this trend. Illustrations of practice will be shared from across a variety of school-university-community based initiatives.

Stories of success from the rural field highlight that teacher education is the key. Both at the pre-service level through initial teacher education and at the professional development level for teachers and importantly rural school leaders. Studies have identified key links between the sustainability of rural communities and teacher preparation, finding that rural communities stand to benefit from teacher education curriculum that is inclusive of rural education needs. Understanding and valuing rural places can be a central core to all teacher education curriculum and professional experience. Schooling teachers and importantly re-schooling teacher educators can provide the very solution to enabling thriving rural communities and ensuring the learning and well-being for all rural students.

Bio – Simone White is Professor and Assistant Dean (International and Engagement) in the Faculty of Education at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Simone is also the Immediate Past President of the Australian Teacher Education Association (ATEA). Simone’s publications, research and teaching are focused on the key question of how to best prepare teachers and leaders for diverse rural, regional and remote communities (both local and global). Her current research areas focus on teacher education policy, teacher development, professional experience and building and maintaining university-school/community partnerships.

Simone currently leads an Australian government funded project focused on improving the preparation of future teachers to work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents and caregivers. Through her collective work, Simone aims to connect research, policy and practice in ways that bring teachers and school and university based teacher educators together and break down traditional borders between academics, policy makers, communities and practitioners.