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Tristan Stockford

1/17/2017
Contextual Factors Analysis of Cony High School

Community, District, and School Factors:

The focus of this contextual factors analysis is Cony high school, located in Augusta

Maine. The factors to be examined include community, district and school factors, classroom

factors, and factors related to a strength/needs analysis along with student characteristics

The current building being used as Cony high school was built in 2006, and currently

accommodates the middle school for the Augusta district as well (Wikipedia, 2016). Cony has

two floors with the first floor housing the high school, and the second floor housing the middle

school. The neighboring communities of Chelsea, China, Jefferson, Palermo, Somerville,

Vassalboro, Whitefield, and Windsor all have their students attend Cony, which makes Cony

one of the larger schools in Maine (City of Augusta, 2017). The new Cony high school is further

to the east than the old Cony high school, possibly due in part to most of the aforementioned

communities lying to the east of Cony. This means that the students in my classroom will be

used to a more rural lifestyle than that of students at some other schools in Maine. I can

therefore use this information to create practice problems and other such examples relevant to

what my students see on a regular basis compared to a more rural environment.

The city of Augusta has a higher rate of poverty compared to the Maine average, with

the median household income for Augusta being $35,378 in 2013, while the Maine average was

$46,974 that same year (city-data, 2017). This means that I should not expect my students to

have any and all resources available to them that might be available to students in wealthier

neighborhoods. My students may only have available to them the resources provided by the

school, and I should take this into consideration when I give assignments.
The city of Augusta has voted in favor of the democratic party in the past two presidential

elections, as well as voting to reject the most recent question one, which was to legalize

marijuana (Claffey, 2017). It can be expected that my students will most likely tend to have

similar political views as their parents, so although the students may not have been the ones

voting in the past, I can use the results from the voters of Augusta to understand what political

views my students might have. This information allows me to assume that my students are most

likely in favor of democracy, and that they probably do not have strong support for drug

addiction in the community. The community itself might also be more liberally minded based on

the most recent presidential polls from Augusta. Thus, I can use this information to plan work

and assignments that might resonate and be more relevant to a population with these views.

Figure 1.1 Figure 1.2

From a census taken in 2013, Augusta tends to have lower levels of educational

attainment as well as lower levels of school enrollment at higher levels of education compared

to the Maine average. Both of these statistics are displayed in figures 1.1 & 1.2 above

(City-Data.com, 2017). Augusta does have higher levels of school enrollment at both the

nursery level and grades one through four, implying that either Augusta offers cheap/free
schooling at these levels, or that the current adults in Augusta value education and are thus

sending their children to schools in higher numbers than prior. Both scenarios are beneficial for

my students as it places some amount of emphasis on the importance of early education in the

eyes of my students, however it also means that the current adult population of Augusta is not

as educated at higher levels of education as the Maine average, which might have negative

impacts upon my students. These two pieces of information imply that there will be a high

percentage of students in my classroom whom will be economically underprivileged. As a

teacher, I think that this means I should try to assist my students in finding appropriate

resources, whether it be pencils/paper/notebooks, or through helping them find places that will

assist them with their school work. I should try to make my work accessible for everyone,

regardless of their socio-economic status.

Classroom Factors:

Having been in my classroom for two weeks now, I have a good idea of what will affect

my teaching regarding the classroom Ive been placed in. The classrooms at Cony high school

are typically of average size, and can comfortably seat about twenty or so students based on

what I have seen so far. The three classes that I will be teaching along with my mentor however,

all have over twenty students, and one actually has twenty eight students. Needless to say, this

means that the room actually feels very small and crowded at times, and it was difficult to move

about during work periods and after instruction. Because of this, my mentor came up with the

idea to put the desks in groups rather than rows as they had been. This way it has been easier

to move about the room and help students. I think this setup is suitable given the circumstances,

but as I will discuss later it has brought about some negative side effects. I think that I will keep

the grouping of desks the same and simply plan accordingly in my future lesson plans, such as

allowing for group work etc.


The students at Cony high school all have their own laptops provided by Cony for them

to use in class. On top of this, my mentor teacher has twenty graphing calculators, a SMART

board, an overhead projector, and an old style laminate projector that can hook up to a graphing

calculator available for use in the class as well. Technology is fairly abundant in this classroom

and I intend to take full use of it. I have been given several tools and resources I can use from

my education courses at UMF, such as Geogebra, which I plan on using to help illustrate

different concepts to my two geometry classes.

Although all of the students are supposed to have their own laptops from Cony, I have

come to realize that the school has denied some students laptops on some grounds or another,

whether it be for lack of paying the insurance fee or for past damages done to school property,

or some other such reason, thus I cannot actually rely on every student to have their own

laptop. This could cause some issues, but fortunately the class layout is such that the students

are grouped together. This means that so long as we do not assign work that requires the

students to use their laptops outside of class, then they can work together as groups to

accomplish anything that may require the use of such technology while in class.

My mentor teacher has some rules in place for her classroom, which I intend to keep

while I am teaching lessons in the classroom. For the most part they are reiterations of school

rules already in place, such as no cell phones, no inappropriate contact with other students,

appropriate use of school technology, etc. She has also put in place a few other rules that the

students have a more difficult time following such as: No energy drinks or soda, no eating during

instruction, and no talking during instruction. She does however allow the students to listen to

music from their phones while doing in class work, with the exception of tests or quizzes, so

long as their phones are kept out of sight. I think these rules all aid in creating a better learning
environment for the students, and I do not plan on altering any or adding to these rules at this

point in time.

There are a few routines involved with the way my mentor teacher allows students to

make up missed work or correct old work that I think I would like to keep in place while I give

lessons. Firstly, my mentor teacher allows all the students to make any corrections they want to

tests and quizzes for a period of about a week after the assessment has been given. The

students can come in at at free period they may have, after school, or during RAM time (RAM

time is a short period of time between first and second period of every day, about twenty

minutes. This piece of time is designated specifically for students to make up old work or meet

with teachers. RAM time is different every day, where every Monday the students that come in

during RAM time are our first period class. Every Tuesday the students that come in are our

second period students, and so forth).They can do this as many times as they wish for about a

week or so after the assessment has been given. I had concerns about this system in place

when I was first introduced to it, however I have come to realize that this simply allows students

more opportunities to learn, and we are still able to get a good idea of acquired knowledge by

the students even after correcting the same paper several times over.

My mentor teacher also allows her students to use any of their own notes, books, or

things on the walls of the classroom during tests and quizzes. Thus, all assessments done in

the classroom are open note. I think this allows students to get away from having to memorize

everything discussed in the class and get down to more standard application, which I believe to

be the more important aspect of mathematics. I plan on keeping both of these routines in place

in the class not only because I agree with what they help students accomplish, but also because

I do not wish to change something that the students have become so accustomed to being able

to do while in my mentors classroom.


Strengths/needs Analysis and Student Characteristics:

During the short time I have been at Cony I have noticed that the school is very diverse

compared to what I am used to. There are students from many different countries and cultures

as well as students from any and all ends of most spectrums whether in regards socio-economic

status or any of the factors relating to learner development. Because of this, I knew right away

that a strengths analysis would be an essential part to understanding my students. After talking

with my mentor teacher, she suggested something she has done in the past to introduce herself

to groups of students that she is not familiar with. The idea was to turn the students name into

an acronym in which each of the letters of their name they would use to list a word that

symbolized either something they like to do or a characteristic they think they have. This was

turned into a homework assignment for the students and I compiled the data into a list of

categories which I was then able to use to learn more about my students.

Most of the information I gathered from this was fairly self evident, such as that most students

characterized themselves as musical. This I was already aware of due to the fact that we have

several of the band/chorus members in our class, as well as the fact that whenever allowed by

my mentor, nearly all students would listen to music when doing independent work. What I

found more noteworthy from this data, would be the fourth, fifth, and sixth most common pieces

of information found. Namely, Energetic, Interpersonal, and Enthusiastic. Most of our students
self identified themselves as having a lot of energy, liking to work with other students, and being

enthusiastic about doing what they enjoyed. I myself am quite the opposite, being a very

intrapersonal learner, and it explained to me clearly why my mentor and I had trouble during the

first week of classes to get the students to stay quiet and focus on work when we thought it

important. Most of our students do not learn well from being quiet and listening to instruction,

and would rather be working in groups rather than independently. I plan to use this information

to plan group work whenever possible in future, as well as making instruction time more

involved for the students whenever I can.

As I mentioned earlier during the classroom factors piece, we had arranged our room

into groups in order to make moving about the classroom more easy. As I also just mentioned

above, we have a rather noisy group of students in our classes and they rather enjoy working

together. It is easy to see then what the negative side effect of putting the desks into tables is.

Namely, that the arrangement of groups simply enhanced the students ability to be talkative and

disruptive at the wrong times. I am hoping that in making instruction time more involved for the

students as well as allowing for group work that I can put this extra energy from the students to

good use and allow for more productivity from them.


There are other factors I know about my students that didnt necessarily show up from

the name acronym activity I gave to the students. For example, I know that Cony has recently

had a large influx of ESL students, and that we have several in each of our classes. This means

that we have several students in all our classes that dont speak english at home. Their ability to

speak and communicate in english varies a lot and so there is often at least one or more of

them that did not understand much from the instruction period. I have found that these students

are typically very eager to learn, are quite capable, and just need a little more help in

understanding what it is that they are being asked to do. I also think these students have very

different learning styles based on what I have observed so far. Some of them prefer to work in

groups and chat together about how to get their work done, and others are happier working by

themselves. I think because of this I will try to assign work that can be done as either a group or

individually, which would allow the students to do whichever they prefer.

To help with the language barrier my mentor teacher has started creating vocabulary

lists on the walls to help students learn the vocabulary that we talk about during instruction. We

have also given assignments based solely on helping our students learn the terms, such as

giving crossword puzzles and such that the students can then use later as a resource on tests

or quizzes.

The two geometry classes that we have this semester are both integrated classes. This

means that the students taking the class are of varying ages, and so although most of the

students are sophomores, we do have a good number of juniors in the classes as well. This is

because these juniors have already taken the class once and failed, or they transferred from

another school mid-term and were unable to receive credit for partially taking the class

elsewhere, etc. Due to this fact, we have a very large range of developmental ages in our

classes, and furthermore we have some students who really already know the first five or so
chapters of the book we are trying to teach. This makes instruction very difficult at times,

because the students who already know what we are teaching that day typically find it very

boring and ultimately find a way to be disruptive. We have found that these same students are

typically good at explaining things to other students, as they have a different perspective than

we might. This helps with group work, but also adds to the general noise level of the room. My

mentor teacher and I have to find a balance between group work and keeping the class at a

reasonable volume so as to not detract from the learning of the students who need a quieter

environment.

It is this same group of students that I have found to have a worse work ethic than we

would prefer. I do not know for what reasons they failed the class the first time around, but

struggling to finish work on time probably did not help. We have thus far allowed students to

make up old work, but I believe my mentor teacher wishes to be more strict about late work in

the future, and that it is for the sole reason that its an integrated classroom that she has been

so lenient up until now. I think that gradually working into this will help keep these students from

falling behind. I have also noticed that having two gradebooks (I keep one as does my mentor

teacher) allows us to keep a closer eye on which students need to be reminded of missing or

late work.

My mentor teacher has also shown me that we do have a number of special education

students in one of our geometry classes. Although I have yet to learn the exact details and

needs of these students individually, they are all high performing, capable, respectful, and

eager. In addition to what I have observed myself, the school has also placed an ed tech in that

class with us, which I believe is more due to the number of special ed students rather than the

needs of any one of them in particular. From what I have seen, these students for the most part

just need extra encouragement and reminding of what they need to do, or when they have
forgotten to pass in an assignment. This is something I have no problem doing, and is an easy

solution that seems to be working for now. We have one student with an IEP, however I have

yet to be given the opportunity to join an IEP meeting for the student and so I do not yet know

much about what this student needs, and cannot comment well on what I plan to do to aid this

student as of current.

Bibliography

"Augusta, Maine." Augusta, Maine (ME 04330) Profile: Population, Maps, Real Estate,

Averages, Homes, Statistics, Relocation, Travel, Jobs, Hospitals, Schools, Crime, Moving,

Houses, News, Sex Offenders. Advameg, Inc., 01 Jan. 2017. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.

<http://www.city-data.com/city/Augusta-Maine.html>.

Claffey, Jason. "Augusta Election Results: Yes to Clinton, No to Legal Pot." Augusta, ME

Patch. Patch, 12 Nov. 2016. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.

<http://patch.com/maine/augusta/augusta-election-results>.

Cony. City of Augusta. City of Augusta. City of Augusta School Department, 01 Jan.

2017. Web. 16 Jan. 2017. <http://www.augustaschools.org/schools/cony/>

Wikipedia. "Old Cony High School." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Nov. 2016.

Web. 16 Jan. 2017. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Cony_High_School>.