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Teaching rural/remote Annotated Bibliography of Teacher Resilience

Malloy, W.W., & Allen, T. (2007). Teacher retention in a teacher resiliency-building rural school. Rural Educator, 28(2), 19-27

Teacher resilience | Teacher retention/attrition | Teaching rural/remote

This paper examines the resiliency building culture of a rural US school with high teacher retention, high student achievement and a reputation for being a nurturing school in which to work. Surveys and teacher interviews as well as analysis of archival data were used. The resiliency-building steps were: caring and support, setting and communicating high expectations and providing opportunities for meaningful participation."

Sharplin, E., O’Neill, M., & Chapman, A. (2011). Coping strategies for adaptation to new teacher appointments: Intervention for retention. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27, 136-146.

Beginning teachers | Professional development | Teacher resilience | Teaching rural/remote

This qualitative study identified the coping strategies of newly recruited teachers in remote or rural schools in Western Australia. Coping strategies were viewed as “direct-action strategies focused on stress source elimination and palliative strategies which reduce stress by modifying internal or emotional reactions” (p. 139). Participants of the study comprised 29 teachers newly appointed to 17 rural or remote schools in Western Australia, who were classified into four groups, young novice, mature-aged novice, interstate and overseas-educated teachers. Data were collected from an initial questionnaire, ongoing telephone interviews, site visits, and email contact for up to 15 months. Through these sources of data, case studies were constructed. The results indicated three main groups of coping strategies: Direct-action strategies (getting information; seeking assistance; connecting with others; accessing professional development; reflecting; reframing; and establishing boundaries), palliative strategies (positive self-talk; accepting; using a goal focus; establishing psychological boundaries; depersonalising; use of humour; religious beliefs; maintaining health and wellbeing; and maintaining relationships)and avoidant coping strategies (taking leave, disengaging, and substance use). As a conclusion, it was recommended that teachers should be supported to increase their retention and improve students’ learning experience. Moreover, professional development was also maintained to be an important factor that could help to facilitate teacher resilience.

Sullivan, A., & Johnson, B. (2012). Questionable practices? Relying on individual teacher resilience in remote schools. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 22(3), 101-116.

Beginning teachers | Teacher resilience | Teaching rural/remote

Within this paper, resilience is described as teachers’ “capacity to adapt and cope despite being exposed to serious on-going threats to their wellbeing” (p. 102). The case study of one graduate teacher employed in a remote Indigenous Australian school presented in this paper was drawn from the Australian Research Council funded project (2008-2012) that investigated the resilience of early career teachers. Through two semi-structured interviews with the student conducted at the beginning and the end of the school year, and one interview with the principal towards the end of the year, the researchers reported several systematic and situated factors that threatened the teacher’s resilience: distance, feeling of isolation, different living condition, lack of teaching resources, students’ transience, range of year levels, multi-age classes, students not speaking English as a first language, lack of adequate pre-service education, absence of an Indigenous Education Worker, little formal mentoring and support and lack of opportunities to participate in professional development. However, some positive factors were identified to contribute to the teacher’s resilience: personal relationships with family and friends, connection with local community, and the development of professional identity. Based on the findings, the authors suggested that recruiting authorities should develop effective support mechanisms to assist beginning teachers’ resilience rather than relying on their own capacity to cope with the challenges of teaching in remote areas.

Taylor, J. L. (2013). The power of resilience: A theoretical model to empower, encourage and retain teachers. The Qualitative Report, 18, 1-25.

Teacher resilience | Teacher retention/attrition | Teaching rural/remote

Teachers face massive challenges, namely low salaries, lack of administrative support, job dissatisfaction, student discipline problems, a lack of influence over school decision-making and teacher blame. In that context, this study explored the characteristics of resilience that influenced teachers’ retention in a rural community. teacher resilience is defined as “the ability to adjust to varied situations and increase one’s competence in the face of adverse conditions” (p. 2). The participants of the study were four female African American teachers, representatives of a teacher population that have less stable careers and high attrition rate. Using the historical biography method with a narrative inquiry technique, the study confirmed eight themes of resilience as identified in Polidore’s Theory of Adult Resilience in Education (2004): religion, flexible locus of control, ability to view adverse situations positively, autonomy, commitment, enjoyment of change, positive relationships, and positive view of education. An additional theme, efficacy, emerged. As a conclusion, it was argued that teachers should be equipped with adequate teaching resources to enjoy a sense of job satisfaction. Teachers should also be provided with sufficient tools to deal with educational reforms and changes.

Vassar, L. (2011). An analysis of educator resiliency within a rural public secondary setting. (Doctor of Education), Trevecca Nazarene University. (3460562)

Teacher resilience | Teaching rural/remote

This study identified organisational, environmental, and individual stressors so as to develop appropriate methods to improve teacher resiliency. Teaching is a challenging profession with many stressors, among which are lack of parental cooperation, adequate resources, or administrative support. Teachers who stay in the profession usually exhibit five common resilient qualities: competence, usefulness, belonging, potency, and optimism. 73 participants from a rural public secondary school in East Tennessee were asked to complete a self-report instrument; that is, each participant had to submit a confidential completion of a Likert-scale and open-ended-question survey, including the Maslach Burnout Inventory and the Teacher Stress Inventory. The findings indicated that the burnout rate among the population was high despite the teachers’ teaching styles, i.e. “professional, traditional, formal” or “warm, supportive, facilitator”. As a recommendation, ten research-based organisational strategies were proposed to help teacher address the two utmost stressors, time management and professional distress. Moreover, further research is recommended to identify organisational strategies to increase educator resiliency and effectiveness.

Williams, J. (2003). Why great teachers stay. Educational Leadership, May, 71-74.

Emotions in teaching | Teacher resilience | Teacher training | Teaching rural/remote

This article explored the elements that contributed to experienced teachers’ resilience despite various teaching-related challenges. In-depth interviews were conducted with 12 teachers who had an average of 23 years of experience, coming from four counties in western North Carolina and working in both rural and urban communities. The findings showed that the teachers all experienced unpleasant instances with school administration and changes in education policies. However, changes energised and refreshed them while their flexibility led to their renewed enthusiasm and longevity. They all strived for novel methods of teachings, constantly changing themselves to meet the students’ demands. Their satisfaction derived from more than watching their students’ progress, but from forming spiritual bonds with their students. Teaching, to these “beyond good – the best that exists” (p. 71) teachers, was a sacred calling, something they were meant to do. For some teachers, a sense of collegiality was a factor that contributed to their resilience, while for some others, workplace relationships were unreliable so they turned to their students, family and friends for mental support and connection. From these findings, the researcher suggested that the protective elements identified in this paper should be incorporated into teacher education programs to help pre-service build their resilience.

Yates, L., Pelphrey, B. A., & Smith, P. A. (2008). An exploratory phenomenological study of African American male pre-service teachers at a historical black university in the mid-south. National Forum of Applied Educational Research Journal, 21(3).

Beginning teachers | Teacher resilience | Teaching rural/remote

This study used a narrative style to help explain the resilience of eight male African American pre-service teachers in their studies at a university in the mid-South of the United States. Three sets of protective factors helped these pre-service teachers to build resilience. These were (a) family and community (e.g. influence of parents and siblings), (b) individual factors (e.g. personal drive to succeed, influence of faith/religion) and (c) the school (e.g. high expectations, development of strong personal relationships). A mentoring program called Protégés and Provocateurs was briefly described and it was suggested that this program could be used in other circumstances. Although the mentoring program was not fully described, the apparent success of this initiative warrants further research."

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