The on-going social and political climate, with polarizing stances on everything from issues of social justice to mandates for mask-wearing and vaccination, brings non-normative stressors into the lived experiences of students, families, and educators everywhere. These stressors are often magnified in rural communities and schools. Yet, in spite of these challenges, many schools in rural areas have embraced opportunities for creative collaborations which foster connections and celebrate the unique richness of their communities.

This Praxis Reflection describes one such collaboration between a teacher educator at a midwestern university and a rural junior high/senior high school 300 miles west of the university campus in order to offer redesigned field experiences to preservice teachers. At the start of the Fall 2020 semester, the author reached out to a former student who teaches junior high and high school English Language Arts classes in this rural school. The teacher welcomed preservice teachers (one student teacher and eight practicum students) to participate virtually in her literacy classroom. The school served students in in-person, virtual, and hybrid settings and made pivots in delivery several times throughout the semester. The preservice teachers connected virtually to observe, plan and collaborate with the classroom teacher, work with individual students and small groups, and offer whole-class innovative literacy instruction.

This article offers reflections shared by the author, classroom teacher, student teacher, and practicum students on this redesigned field experience. Insights into the unique needs and identities of students in rural schools and communities and the importance of literacy learning during turbulent times are described.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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