Personal and professional needs of teachers in Montana's Class C schools
Young, Nancy Kay
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The major purpose of this paper was to determine the personal and professional needs of teachers in Class C schools in Montana, and how college and universities could better prepare them to teach in these school systems. To collect the data for the study, questionnaire packets were sent to each of Montana's 102 Class C schools. Each packet was addressed to the school secretary. A letter to the secretary asked him or her to randomly select three teachers from the school to complete the enclosed questionnaires. It was also specified that the secretary select one teacher from elementary, middle and high school if possible. Of the 306 questionnaires sent, 185 were returned for a 60 % response rate. The findings of the study showed that 72.4 percent of the teachers surveyed were adequately prepared to teach in the Class C school. Growing up in a small community and attending a Class C school helped 33 percent of the respondents be prepared to teach a Class C school. College and university training helped 30 percent of the responding teachers. There are adjustments for teachers who chose to live and teach in a small community. Some of these adjustments include: driving for everything, living in a fishbowl, friends sometimes limited to other staff members, school activities take up a majority of the teachers time both in and out of school, and professional development is limited due to isolation. In regard to the teaching itself, teachers found that the number of preparations involved for lessons and activities require good time management skills. Also they must learn to be creative in order to deal with limited resources. Teachers in Montana's Class C schools said they could have been better prepared to handle extra-curricular responsibilities, small town living and curriculum development. Based on the findings of the study, the writer recommends that college and universities better prepare future teachers by giving them realistic exposure to a teacher's role in the Class C school, addressing curriculum development in the teacher training programs, creating an awareness of small town living in their programs, giving some instruction on how to manage a multi-grade classroom and presenting education students with real exposure to schools of all sizes.