The ΓÇ£Journey to BecomingΓÇ¥: Pre-Service TeachersΓÇÖ Experiences and Understandings of Rural School Practicum in a South African Context
┬áThat rural schools suffer from issues of ΓÇ£hard to staffΓÇ¥ and ΓÇ£harder to stayΓÇ¥ has been well documented in extant literature. However, the literature seems to indicate inadequate teacher preparation for work in rural schools. Literature also demonstrates that teaching in rural settings ostensibly requires relevant knowledge and, skills to cope with various eventualities, and complexities in those contexts. One way to cope with these complexities is for teacher education programmes to adequately prepare pre-service teachers for work in rural environments. This paper reports the experiences and understandings of 15 Bachelor of Education student teachers who took part in a four-week residential teaching practice whilst living alongside the community in a rural South African setting. The researcher sought to understand their experiences and conceptions of rural school teaching during their professional ΓÇ£journeys to becomingΓÇ¥ professionals through this form of residential practicum in a rural setting. The pre-service teachersΓÇÖ daily reflective journals and audio-taped collaborative reflection sessions constitute the data of evolving constructions of the value of this rural residential practicum towards their understanding of rurality, rural teaching and rural life as they develop as teachers. The paper illustrates that exposure to rurality in teacher preparation promotes better understanding of rural issues and pedagogy, dispelling myths and misconceptions and, broadening studentsΓÇÖ career prospects in these settings which may ultimately foster interest in country teaching.
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