Connecting to Students Through Place
Two teaching residency programs in northern California have provided some insight into graduates’ preparation for, and inclination to pursue, teaching in a rural school. Both programs include early coursework that addresses the needs and strengths of rural communities and requires candidates to conduct an in-depth study of their placement community. This article specifically describes features of the community study assignment that aims to have preservice teachers examine their understandings about rural places, to create a connection to the place where students live, and to promote place-based pedagogy. Student feedback suggests the assignment is a promising practice for teacher preparation. A rural-focused curriculum and a strong understanding of the community creates conditions that support both the recruitment and retention of teachers in rural schools.