Equity and Quality in Teacher Education for Rural and Remote Communities

October 11, 2022

This August, UBC launched a new Rural and Remote Teacher Education Program (RRED) with a full cohort comprised of 25 students from rural and remote communities across BC. The first of its kind in the province, the hybrid two-year program offers students the unique opportunity to complete a Bachelor of Education degree in person at the UBC Learning Centre in Nelson for a month each summer, and online in their home communities from September to June. The program fosters a decolonial and equity-oriented stance both in its structure and pedagogy.

The 2022 Summer Term brought teacher candidates and instructors together at the UBC Learning Centre, also the site of the Faculty of Education’s West Kootenay Rural Teacher Education Program (WKTEP) and the UBC Masters in Education in Curriculum Studies Program . Three Bachelor of Education courses were co-taught by the Indigenous Education team, Bonny Lynn Donovan, Jesse Halton, Denise Flick, and Megan Read, and by Dr. Leyton Schnellert and Dr. Terry Taylor through interdisciplinary, place-based, and Land-based pedagogies.

Winter Term courses with Dr. Donna Kozak and PhD candidate Miriam Miller are now underway and teacher candidates have transitioned to virtual studies of two courses per term. RRED students also work full-time in education-related jobs in their rural communities. Many teacher candidates are employed as Education Assistants, Indigenous Support workers, and Teachers on Call (TOCs), while seven teacher candidates are currently teaching on Letters of Permission in their school districts. RRED students are vital to keeping schools open and staffed in their rural places. This unique teacher education program allows teacher candidates to continue serving rural communities at the same time as they learn equity-oriented, relational, and culturally responsive pedagogies, attaining teacher certification.

[UBC is] meeting the teaching needs of rural and remote communities with this program by supporting teacher candidates to stay in place and not disrupt people having to leave their communities to work and go to school. This way, communities get the teachers they need that are committed to place and the people who live there. I’m hoping that this program continues to exist into the future and that many more teacher candidates get this opportunity!

Allie, RRED teacher candidate

Program Themes in the RRED Program

Five interconnected RRED program themes are foundational and provide a multi-disciplinary framework for equity and quality: 1) Indigeneity, 2) Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, 3) Inquiry, 4) Place, and 5) School and Society are woven through all courses. Synchronous and asynchronous components of the program are realized in a multitude of ways including real-time video conferencing classes, weekly asynchronous module work, in situ school visits, and in 2023-2024, practica placements in rural schools. To enhance BEd coursework, Compassionate Systems Leadership , a pillar in BC’s Mental Health in Schools strategy that focuses on adult well-being is integrated into monthly sessions and summer classes. An APA workshop was recently held to foster the growth of academic writing skills. RRED teacher candidates learn from virtual guests and experiences as well as on the Land. Throughout the program, the cohort focuses on relationality and reciprocity—students co-create and shape the RRED program through ongoing reflection and evaluation with the instructional team. Teacher candidates help design responsive learning goals for their own learning, while also deepening their understanding of inclusive pedagogies for K-12 students. The five program themes are deeply embedded in RRED structures and learning experiences thus modelling equity, compassion, and quality.

The blended model of the two-year Rural and Remote program is designed with BC’s rural and remote communities in mind. It fosters equitable access to teacher education where the demand for certified teachers is high and the needs are dire. Rural and remote communities desperately need qualified teachers to ensure equity and quality for K-12 learners. The new RRED program is achieving this goal, while the interest in the program is growing across rural BC!

Diversity and inclusion: The profs have gone a long way to ensure that our various learning needs are being met. They ensure a diverse array of material is presented to us, and we are given the opportunity to present our learning in different ways.

Indigeneity: I have appreciated the decolonial lens that each prof has taken thus far. They start each class with a territorial acknowledgement, as well as a learning intention. It has helped me to centre an Indigenous lens in all my learning.

Everyone I talk to about this program says it’s so needed in our province! I hope the program continues after 2024.

Rob, RRED teacher candidate

Learn about the RRED program here