Teaching in Rural Alaska- Teacher Training and Retention

Lead Author Ute, Kaden
Institution Contact University of Alaska Fairbanks, P.O. Box 756480, Fairbanks, AK 99775
Co-Authors Healey, Joanne, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Patterson Philip P, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Theme Theme 4: Building Long-term Human Capacity
Session Name 4.3 Teacher Education in the Arctic, sustainable schools, and relevant learning: Towards Social Justice and Inclusion
Datetime Wed, Sep 14, 2016 01:30 PM - 01:45 PM
Presentation Type Oral
Abstract text Preparing and retaining teachers for teaching in rural-indigenous communities throughout Alaska is a complex and challenging task. Presenters will share and discuss preliminary research results from a NSF funded study (Arctic Social Sciences) on teacher retention with the objective to inform participants about challenges in teacher preparation and retention in rural Alaska, discuss possible effective strategies for teacher preparation, induction, and retention, discuss the complex relationship of policy requirements, teacher accreditation demands, and rural, cultural effective teacher characteristics. A significant factor for healthy, resilient Arctic communities can be schools and teachers. A consistent and qualified teacher workforce integrated into the community is critical to the learning of students, the stability of schools, and the vitality of Arctic and indigenous communities. A persistent problem in Arctic Alaska is high teacher turnover. Approximately 60% of Alaska’s teachers leave the Arctic region after less than two years, informally citing a list of reasons, many of which are tied to school and community relations. Such high teacher turnover impacts student achievement, contributes to a school climate of instability, and redirects funds for recruitment that might better be spent towards student learning. To provide equity and access to quality education, Arctic Alaska needs a consistent and culturally responsive teacher work force that is integrated into the community life. Factors that influence retention and community integration of teachers in rural Arctic Alaska schools will be discussed. The research approach utilizes a mixed method research design combining scientific activities with the expertise and traditional knowledge of the indigenous people of the Arctic. The study triangulates findings by looking at multiple qualitative and quantitative indicators related to teacher retention, comparing them and using qualitative evidence to shed light on the quantitative patterns. It also gathers and disseminates scientifically and culturally sensitive anecdotal evidence from dual perspectives: those of teachers in the field and those from community members. As a result of recent and drastic environmental changes in Arctic Alaska, this study has the potential for identifying economic, societal, and education variables as yet unexpected and unstudied. All of this data is gathered and interpreted by a diverse and highly qualified team that includes Native researchers and scholars who have explicit knowledge of Alaska Native cultures and communities.
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