The Bush Tracks Collective

Rural teaching is a phenomenon often characterised by transitions: transitions from urban or regional universities to rural communities, between rural teaching posts and others, and from classroom teaching to leadership responsibilities. In the last century many Australian teachers have begun their careers, that is, they have undertaken the transition from student teacher to beginning teacher, in a rural school. Rural teacher mobility is a phenomenon that has been well documented over many decades and the impacts in terms of staffing dilemmas are the focus of strategic policy reforms in most Australian states. Usually perceived as a problem for education, particularly in times of rural teacher shortages and leadership succession crises, the Bush Tracks Research Collective is seeking to understand the nature of rural teaching transitions in new ways. Through a research collaboration between educational researchers and rural teachers, central to our focus is an understanding of how people become good rural teachers, specifically, how they learn rural pedagogies and rural leadership strategies. This paper presents a preliminary analysis of our surveys and case studies of the transitional experiences of rural teachers.