Friday, August 3, 10:30-11:00, SUB Ballroom C, Theme: Profession

The purpose of this paper is to focus on the situation of rural school teachers. Research shows that in rural areas teaching staff is typically younger and less experienced than in other locations and that teacher staff turnover as well as resignation rates among teachers are higher (Green and Novak, 2008). Through exploring how teachers in two different rural locations in Finland experience working as teachers, our aim is to shed light on the working conditions of rural school teachers, in order to contribute to a deeper understanding of the challenges related to maintain well-qualified and stable teaching staffs in rural schools.

The analyses are based on qualitative interviews with primary school teachers in two different rural locations in the northern part of Finland.  The analyses show that working as a teacher in a rural context brings with it certain challenges, which may not be present in other, more urban contexts. These challenges are not necessarily connected to the work that takes place inside the classroom, but also have to do with the expectations and demands that the teacher role implies in rural communities. Our findings indicate that rural school teachers encounter experiences that may affect their ability and motivation to work as school teachers. Consequently, this may influence their ability to create fruitful learning environments for the students. The data analyses also indicate that teachers employ different strategies in order to cope with the expectations and demands that they experience. For some, withdrawal from the local communities is considered a necessary coping strategy.