ERIC Number: ED344707
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1991-Sep
Reference Count: N/A
Overcoming Professional Isolation in Small, Rural Schools.
Miller, Bruce A.; Hull, Janis L.
This report examines the issues, needs, and strategies related to professional development in small, rural schools in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Information was gathered by a survey, a series of rural education forums, and case study interviews. Respondents of the survey and participants of forums were legislators, practitioners, members of professional associations, and state policymakers. They identified factors that limited professional development, including geographic and professional isolation, community attitudes, time, fiscal resources, and irrelevant opportunities. Strategies for overcoming these constraints included networking, telecommunications, using outside service agencies, conferences and workshops, restructuring of school time, and providing incentives. The literature review revealed four dimensions (defined need, leadership, school climate, and staff ownership) that needed consideration when creating professional development opportunities. When implementing change, important elements were: administrator turnover, age and experience of the staff, and the school culture. Three cultural types of schools are described along with conditions under which these types develop. Professional and geographic isolation can be successfully overcome by: (1) developing supportive standards that account for the unique nature of rural communities; (2) recognizing that change comes from inside people; (3) stressing the importance of leadership and incentives; and (4) recognizing that professional renewal must be continuous and collaborative. Nine rural staff development programs are described that illustrate strategies for overcoming professional isolation. (30 references) (LP)
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Northwest Regional Educational Lab., Portland, OR, Rural Education Program.