Factors about Schooling Areas

9 Mar

 

Every new semester I have an opportunity to visit different schools around my area and observe what they do. We are also suppose to research some contextual factors about the area. Contextual factors are defined as “attributes of areas that derive from structural or social characteristics of the area” (hsph.harvard.edu). The following is how contextual factors can help educators and what they can tell us about the area.

Contextual factors can help us in a lot of ways. They can help us identify the area we are going into and what to expect. For example in Bridgeton New Jersey there is a high population of Hispanic speaking citizens. You need to know this because you need a plan on how you will communicate with the parents. Also Bridgeton has a lot of poverty, and diversity. These three contextual factors should and will affect the way you teach.

Having a high population of Hispanic speaking citizens, means that you might need a translator at parent teacher conferences. There are also students who are bi-lingual and don’t know a lot of English.  The best way to approach this is to be patient. In the Bridgton school district they have translators that can speak to students and help them with their work. In the classroom I observe we have a Spanish speaking aid that comes in everyday to help with the Spanish speaking students. I also learned from being in the classroom that it is hard to send home notes to the families if they speak Spanish. I would look into finding a translator for the letters I have to write home.

Another element adding to having a lot of Hispanic students is to make sure your classroom is still diverse and multicultural. Mark Chesler in Teaching well in the diverse/multicultural Classroom, states the following key points in handling a classroom of diverse culture: “Handle race- and gender-related incidents in the class with confidence, avoid racist behavior as an instructor, incorporate critical thinking about race, gender, help students deal with these differences in class.” Teachers should take these suggestions into consideration and apply them to their classroom. To make your classroom more multicultural you could have different books that talk about different parts of the world. You could also set up your dramatic play center to inspire children to go on air-plane rides to different parts of the world.

Poverty can affect a child but don’t assume it affects the way they learn. The pedagogy of Poverty Versus Good Teaching says that “you cannot assume poverty prevents a child from understanding the material.” You can help with having an enriched learning environment also. From Eric Jensen’s book Teaching with Poverty in Mind “An enriched learning environment offers challenging, complex curriculum and instruction, provides the lowest-performing students with the most highly qualified teachers, minimizes stressors, boosts participation in physical activity and the arts, ensures that students get good nutrition and provides students with the support they need to reach high expectations.”  To have an enriched classroom is to change up the normal routine and to explore many new things. Students should also be involved in the preparation of their class. “Whenever students are involved in planning what they will be doing, it is likely that good teaching is going on” (Haberman 82). When a student is involved with what they are learning most likely they will learn better. This reminds me of “Play Planning” from the Tools of the Mind curriculum that they use in Bridgeton. When students “play plan” they are planning out what they are going to do in the play centers.

The contextual factors in Bridgeton differ from other areas. To be a teacher in Bridgeton you must be aware that students come for Hispanic backgrounds and some from poverty. You also must introduce them to different cultures. The teacher must make sure that they understand the students and where they come from. Knowing what the contextual factors are of the school and students will help you in every way to be able to teach affectively.

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