Access to technology and resources
Technology has become ubiquitous in our personal and professional lives. According to a study from the National Skills Coalition, 92% of jobs require digital skills. Some might argue that meaningful integration of technology early in the learning experience can play a role in preparing for such jobs. In fact, EdTech points to the relationship between early access to technology and an equitable learning experience among students.
Teachers can also leverage various technological resources (including computers and tablets, digital libraries, e-textbooks and online learning platforms) to encourage participation, make learning interactive and engage students with different learning styles.
Of course, being in an urban setting doesn’t guarantee unlimited access to technology. Many urban and rural schools, in fact, experience a similar lack of funding to implement technology in the classroom, despite the eagerness of teachers and students to do so. For well-funded urban and suburban schools, however, technology is a significant advantage.
Beyond technology, educators in urban settings may have easier access to such educational experiences and resources as a science center, museums or other historical sites that can extend learning beyond the classroom.
Professional development opportunities and networking
Learning by doing is only part of the equation for teachers. To be able to solve unique challenges and stay up to date on new teaching methods, educators must pursue continuing education.
Teachers in urban settings can take advantage of larger populations to network, collaborate, share resources and explore mentorship opportunities.
Teaching K–12 in rural schools
Escaping the crowds and activity of urban settings results in some unique opportunities for rural schools. Read on to explore some of them.
Close-knit communities and personalized learning
Smaller rural schools promote close-knit communities, which allow parents, teachers and administrators to forge close relationships that support students’ academic success. This can create a positive learning experience for students, teachers and parents.
“In rural schools, teachers have probably taught their students’ parents if they’ve been around long enough,” says Pamela Roggeman, EdD, dean of the College of Education at University of Phoenix. “They know the families. They know the good and the bad of the community. The folks who choose to stay there do so for a reason.”
Rural schools are generally much smaller than their urban counterparts. Based on 2018 data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average population in rural schools is 358 students. This naturally leads to a low student-to-teacher ratio. In 2019, for example, the pupil/staff ratio was lowest in rural areas (6.7), and remote rural areas were even lower at 6.1.
With smaller class sizes, teachers can tailor lesson plans and devote more personalized attention to each student based on individual needs.
Cultural immersion and hands-on opportunities
Students and educators in rural schools often experience a strong sense of community, which can strengthen students’ and teachers’ decision-making ability, sense of identity and shared values.
In rural K–12 schools, students and teachers can also engage in a diverse range of hands-on experiences within the local environment and community. Some of these experiences might involve outdoor science and natural exploration, agricultural activities, community service projects, outdoor adventures, and local history and heritage.
These types of hands-on opportunities offer plenty of advantages. They can enrich the learning experience; engage students by bridging theoretical knowledge with practical, real-world application; and cultivate problem-solving skills and resilience.