Learning to Be Rural: Lessons about Being Rural in Teacher Education Programs

Eric Moffa, Erin McHenry-Sorber


This qualitative study investigated the evolving perceptions of rurality of five Appalachian native, first-year teachers as influenced by their teacher preparation program. Findings suggested tensions between participants’ rural upbringings and programmatic and non-rural peer conceptions of rurality that surfaced during their program of study. Responses to these tensions included participants positioning themselves as “rural representatives” in their courses and, in some cases, the adoption of revised conceptions of rurality. Intra-Appalachian diversity, such as different childhood community types and childhood social class, influenced participants’ conceptualizations of rurality and their perceptions of its representation in their programs. The majority of participants perceived a trend toward generalized notions of rural place that were not necessarily representative of their personal experiences. Transitioning to first-year teachers, participants relied on their community-driven knowledge and teacher preparation to guide their practice in home or new rural, Appalachian communities


Rural teacher preparation; rural education; rural identity


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