Friday, August 3, 3:30-4:00, SUB Ballroom C, Theme: Profession

Recruiting and retaining qualified teachers for America’s rural schools remains a problem (Showalter, Klein, & Lester, 2014; Barley & Brigham, 2008). According to Barley and Brigham (2008), offering practice-teaching opportunities in rural communities could help address the issue of teacher recruitment and retention in rural areas. However, few teacher education programs offer coordinated opportunities for rural clinical practice, especially in remote settings. Montana State University has been engaged in developing strong, substantive partnerships with rural schools in Northeastern and Central Montana to create sustainable preservice experiences for education students. The MSU Rural Practicum has placed 28 junior level students in week-long immersive teaching experience in 11 small, rural schools in the past two years. Data collection from participating students and rural school administrators indicates the rural practicum holds promise in helping students understand the unique benefits and challenges of living and working in rural communities. Data also suggest students in this experience had a much more favorable view of rural schools and communities and were more likely to consider applying for and accepting teaching positions in rural communities.

This presentation will share our efforts in creating this immersive practicum experience as well as some of the challenges we faced and our current plans for future implementation.