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Rural Teachers

Rural vs. Inner-city

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Alex Storts Alex Storts 468 Points

Any teachers go from teaching in an inner-city school to a rural school? If so, what are the main differences? Would you say rural schools are a little easier to teach in than inner-city schools? Thanks!

Pamela Dupre Pamela Dupre 92349 Points

I hope someone has experience with this that can give you the feedback you are looking for. 

Ruth Hutson Ruth Hutson 63540 Points

Hi Alex, 

I would say that both schools have their challenges and rewards.  It really depends on the area so I will make some generalizations.  

Many inner-city schools have a large student populations so teachers can expect to have one or two preps that they teach multiple times a day.  If one is at a remote rural school, then you may be the only science teacher and can expect up to seven preps.  You may be teaching everything (physics, chemistry, earth science, biology, and concurrent credit college courses).  In addition to teaching, at a rural school, you may also have to wear additional hats like coaching or sponsoring an organization. 

You may find that an urban school pays its teachers more because they are part of a larger district and therefore have a larger budget.  A remote rural school will have a smaller student population and may be an idependent school district. Because school funding is based on student numbers, it could have a smaller district budget and not be able to pay its teachers as much.  

If you are the only science teacher in a rural school, you will have students multiple years and that will allow you to develop deeper rapport with students. You learn to work together and get along. You may have your students in an urban school for a semester or a year (depending on your class schedules).  

All students innately want to learn. Many times they just need to be convinced.  Because of your class sizes, it may be easier to reach all of your students at a rural school. It is hard in a class of ten, for example, for students to fall through the cracks.  They cannot hide.  In an urban school, you may have bigger class sizes and it may be easier for students to remain anonymous.  However, a perceptive teacher can reach out and find ways to connect with students.  

One thing that both inner-city and rural schools share in common is access and equity issues.  It is difficult for both types of schools to gain funding and have proper supplies.  Teachers have to be creative in their lesson planning, but it is not impossible at either type of school to attain a quality education. 

What are others experiences?

Zachary Johnson Zachary Johnson 1075 Points


I lived in a rural area, and am going to college in a larger city. I have observed, and worked in both areas as well. I think that inner city school and rural schools are fairly different, but at the end of the day they are both very enjoyable experiences. One thing I did have to be careful of was the references I used in the classroom once I go into an inner city classroom, because their experiences are much different then that of a student in a rural area. I was talking about farm animals in a lesson, and some of the students had never actually seen a cow. After that I was much more careful of what examples I used

Mary Bigelow Mary Bigelow 10180 Points

Hi Alex -- I taught in a small town/suburban district, and then was part of a team that coordinated a statewide elementary program. In that role, I visited dozens of classrooms: urban, suburban, and rural. So my experience with rural schools was not a day-to-day one. That said, I was able to see the effects of rural poverty on children and their schools across the state. One factor is a lack of resources that could be taken for granted elsewhere -- families may be isolated and live miles away from public libraries, daycare, employment opportunities, family services, and health clinics. Afterschool or evening programs are difficult due to distances and transportation. Internet connectivity may be spotty (a few places at the time were still depending on dial-up).

One of the rural districts I worked with had fewer than 300 students K-12. At the 7-12 level, there were two science teachers who needed  multiple certifications and had 4-5 preparations per day. There was not a large gene pool to share ideas or to have in-depth professional development in science (distance learning and social media have been a boon for this!). On the other had, everyone knew everyone and the students had many opportunities to connect with teachers and other adults.

So, I'm not sure what you mean by "easier." It's been my experience that different grade levels, subjects, and communities each present their own challenges. -- Mary B

My first two years of teaching were urban and then the next 26 years were rural. Advantages of working in a rural school district:

1. Autonomy-select the textbook of your choice-or no textbook now with digital resources; able to incorporate place-based and project-based instruction more easily; when a natural even occurs you can stray from the daily plan to incorporate it and not be "behind" or off-task. 

2. Community-community support of your projects; if you need something lets say egg cartons, or some type of containers, you can put out an "all-call" and have parents, community members donate; experts in the community are easily scheduled into classroom; community resources for instruction.

3. Relationships-students are more than in one class, you not only get to know them, but their interests, their concerns for better differentiation, support, and growth; colleagues who are not science teachers offer perspectives you might not have been aware; integration of more than STEM disciplines; learning from your colleagues and vice versa.

4. Satisfaction-seeing your students journey out into the world and succeed, perhaps in ways they never dreamed. 

For me NSTA and my state science teacher organizations, as well as state & federal science organizatons become important for expertise, resources, and a professional learning community. With the Internet, I was able to reach out to like-minded and positions across the USA. 

Lindsay Connors Lindsay Connors 188 Points

I grew up in a rural area and will be moving back to teach in that same rural area. I agree! There are incredible advantages to teaching in these wonderful small towns. 

There is usually plenty of space for outdoor exploration. There is probably a national park close by. More animals to see and observe. Less distraction and more of a peaceful environment in which the students can work in while they are working through their lessons outdoors. Smaller community usually means people pitch in. But best of all.......you teach students to be independent thinkers and learners by giving them more hands on lessons.  

Morganne Sweat Morganne Sweat 545 Points

I have always attended rural schools and have loved every minute of it. I hope to one day work in a rural school and raise a family in a small rural town. Some of the things I like about living in a small rural town include how everyone knows everyone, the support from the community, and the close bond families have. In school, it is always fun to see what teachers my parents had and how everyone already knows who you are. What are some of the things you like about inner-city living?

John Clay John Clay 370 Points

I wonder the same thing - what are some of the more significant differences between teaching in an inner-city school as opposed to a rural school (or vice versa)? I would imagine you couldn't do as much with regards to money spending in a more rural school. I also feel as though the way you interact and connect with your students would differ greatly depending on which school environment you teach in and what environment the school is in. 




In a rural community, your classroom supplies can be met several ways-engage your parents/community and they wil help you! EOf course not everything you need like probeware, computers, etc. but classroom supplies. I was able to add to my chemistry/science glassware when the local mine's chemistry lab updated. I picked up mantles, a variety of glassware, graduated cylinders, etc. 

Money may not be an issue in a rural school as you might think. I was able to take my students outdoors for authentic lessons, data-gathering, as we were close enough to walk to the river, had Geology out our backdoor (mountains, shale, etc.), construction of our new lementary school exposed students to the joys of the instability of shale-we took measure every year for 5 years and could see the slow movement of the hillsdie behind the elementary school, even in the retaining walls they built!

Make connections with government entities: BLM USDA, USGS, state agencies, that are in your local area (which may mean 100 mile radius); same with universities and colleges-there may be some close enough to partner with. 

There are lots of resources available in rural communities for teachers-making community connections is essential!


Maura Purcell Maura Purcell 1250 Points

One thing that I have noticed about working in rual schools is that bugets are constantly in flux because enrollment can go up and down quite a lot from year to year. In the country people tend to lose jobs or move away, or they just opt to home school to avoid the long bus rides and or commutes to their child's school 

Bev DeVore-Wedding Bev DeVore-Wedding 5088 Points

I taught in a rural school district for 26 years; engaging with parents and community members certainly helped me with items not in budgets. A local business allowed me to pick through their discards when they renovated their chemistry lab; great collection of glassware; other federal and state organizations would loan equipment and expertise; we had a fairly stable student population for 25 years; and I used as many household common chemicals instead of expensive chemicals. Our longest bus routes was not quite 70 minutes; usually no more than 60 minutes as those farthest out often rode in with parents or older siblings. However, when the coal mine closes int he next 5-10 years, then there will be hits. The agrarian economy has been stable but the coal mine certainly has helped. 

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