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White Paper

Preparing K-12 Teachers for Crisis: Rural Educators Response to COVID 19


In recent years, teachers faced crises like school shootings, hurricanes, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Research on teacher well-being and burnout exists but rarely focuses on rural schools. Scholars find that newer and veteran teachers are more likely to stay if they have supportive administrators who make changes to benefit the teachers. Therefore, understanding teacher needs is vital for policymakers and educators to retain their teachers. This study is a qualitative inductive thematic analysis of eight teacher focus groups (N=41 teachers) using data from a prior study, Leading Workforce Effectiveness. The three factors related to teacher preparedness are school infrastructure (technology, funding, job security, professional development), interpersonal supports (administration, colleagues, direct teacher, community, parent-teacher communication), and teacher’s years of experience. School infrastructure focuses a lot on technology; before crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, rural schools didn’t see technology as necessary. Interpersonal support focuses on teachers' mental and emotional well-being, having the administration address their concerns, and having colleagues with whom they could communicate different ideas. Lastly, in the role of a teacher’s years of experience, newer teachers felt more prepared to use technology, while veteran teachers appreciated the new perspective on technology given by more contemporary teachers, they also felt less valued at the state level and, in some cases district level by administrators. Limitations included the study's scope (two Local Education Agencies) and rural focus, limiting the findings to rural schools in the south of the U.S. 


Keywords: teacher preparedness, school crisis, COVID-19, rural, crisis preparation,

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