Teaching in Rural Saskatchewan: First Year Teachers Identify Challenges and Make Recommendations

Laurie-ann M. Hellsten, Laureen J. McIntyre, Michelle P. Prytula

Abstract


Despite the existing research on rural education, rural teaching, and pre-service rural practicum placements, there is little research on the experiences of beginning teachers in rural schools. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of Saskatchewan beginning teachers who obtain employment in rural or northern schools. Eight beginning teachers voluntarily participated in a telephone interview during their first year in the teaching profession. Their interviews highlighted shared themes related to the challenges of working in rural and northern communities, including: acceptance; understanding the community; isolation; overlap between personal and professional lives; and impact of rural context on workload. In addition, participants made recommendations for teachers considering employment in these environments, including: preparing to obtain a rural teaching position; seeking out mentorship relationships; and making connections within and outside of the community. These shared themes are discussed within the context of existing literature, and recommendations are made relating to future directions for research in this area.

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