The Benefits and Challenges of Special Education Positions in Rural Settings: Listening to the Teachers

Ann B. Berry, Maggie Gravelle


Special education teachers, through a national survey conducted in 55 rural districts, provided information on the positive and negative aspects of teaching in rural schools. The 203 special educators were asked what they liked best about their position and what they found challenging. Some of the themes identified in the analysis centered on positive features of working in rural areas. Characteristics of the rural community fostered family-like relationships with others in their school and in-depth relationships with parents and students. Half of the teachers also reported they shared the responsibility or took a team approach to delivering special education services, a factor related to teacher satisfaction. The majority of teachers were satisfied with the instructional aspects of their position but dissatisfied with non-instructional role responsibilities. Challenges of the position also included role confusion and a lack of resources. Related implications for rural administrators interested in the satisfaction of special education teachers are provided.


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