Vernier Science Education - June  2024


Forums / Rural Teachers / Rural vs. Inner-city

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 92369 Points

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

Ruth Hutson Ruth Hutson 64765 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

Kellesha Reese Kellesha Reese 595 Points

I decided to check out this forum because I though it was going to be stating the difference and to my surprise you were just asking a question,  but since you did you recieved several comments that gives me the knowledge I was looking for so thank you!

Tasha Tuck Tasha Tuck 265 Points

Hello Alex, 

There are going to be challanges specific to each type of school but I have found both to be enjoyable. I have been teaching at a small rural school for almost three years now and find the relationship between teacher and student to be more personal than those I had in an inner city school because I have less students inmy classes. However, that may be atributed to the different sizes of the schools I have worked at. I have also seen that the resourses for my science class are more limited in at a rural school. With those things in mind I have found more joy in working at a rural school because I feel like I am making more of connection with my students and see them grow in more ways than just education. Best of luck to you. 

Brittany Gohlke Brittany Gohlke 845 Points

Hello! I've only ever taught at a rural school and cannot give personal experience, but I have numerous friends who have given me their pros and cons from going inner-city to rural. The most common pros are a lack of strict/higher level structure. In the rural setting, the administration is more laid back and less likely to give you more than your share. The cons are tough to swallow because the exhaustion is unreal. Rural schools tend to be filled with more drug babies and trailer park kiddos. A lot of the children are deprived of basic needs like showers or meals. I would not say rural is easier, but I can tell you, without a doubt, it's more rewarding. I know my classroom children come into my room feeling safe, loved and valued whereas at home they are rarely any of these things. 

Mary Bigelow Mary Bigelow 10275 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. 

Hi! I really enjoyed getting to see a glimpse into the life of teaching in a rural school district. I am in the process of becoming a teacher and have done all of my field experience in an urban area—and I will teach here as well. The part you mentioned about realtionships struck out to me. I imagine that having a studxent in more than one class does strengthen the teacher and student relationship. This smaller, more intimate setting of children in the same rotation can be important for a student's growth. The satisfaction aspect has to be the most rewarding part of it all. 

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 teach students to be independent thinkers and learners by giving them more hands on lessons.  

Morganne Sweat Morganne Sweat 1195 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 

Beverly DeVore-Wedding Bev DeVore-Wedding 6668 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. 

Hayley Putthoff Hayley Putthoff 230 Points

From being a student in the inner city up until highschool then to rual country, I have seen the advantages and disadvatages in both. Now I am in college in a bigger city, but I think that the inner city has more access to techological advances versus rural where some of the people are opposed to change (techonology being a big issue). In the rural areas some households do not have internet, or personal devices for the students to do their homework on. And some that do have internet, do not have the best connection or speed.  

Evan Byrd Evan Byrd 530 Points

My current field experience is in a rural school district, I also attended a rural school growing up. What I have noticed is the lack of diversity amongst students. I got to tutor in an inner-city school district and found myself amazed by the differences. At my current field experience, there is only 3 first-grade teacher, they teach in leveled classrooms, and science/social studies are completely neglected. Although I believe this school is not a horrible school, I do think being a small-town school has slowed down changes. My question is does this happen in inner-city schools as well? Is progress limited by the student and staff numbers? 


Anna Mailloux Anna 20 Points

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Travis Washington Travis Washington 586 Points

I think that population is important when thinking about your question. I have experienced both inner city and rural school settings, respectively. They differ in just that, numbers. So to ask if it seems easier is understandable. Along with that, they are all our innocent kiddos, they deserve the best version of ourselves and knowing your students helps too. I hope that this helps you along your journey. 

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