One of the most important tasks a teacher has when planning instruction is to find out the learning needs and background information of all the students. The contextual factors will change for each class of students and teachers need to modify and change learning activities so that all students can have an opportunity to learn to their utmost capabilities.

Generally, there are two categories of contextual factors. The first is the community in which the students live. Remember that environment impacts on the lives of students. Be aware and familiar of the opportunities and challenges your students may have in the world outside of the school. The second is the school and classroom environments. These can greatly impact on the lives of students. How accommodating and accepting are these environments? How conducive to positive and constructive growth and development are these environments? No doubt within that examination is identifying the learning needs of all students.

Be as specific as you can as to the various learning needs and situations of your students.



Grade: _____             Collaborating Teacher: __________________ School_________________


Contextual Factors

            Consider the following in your description of the Contextual Factors for the class youÕll be teaching:


q     Community

Describe how the characteristics of the community may impact teaching and learning.  You should focus on:

  • the location of the school and the district
  • the resources of the district and its support of education
  • the socio-economic and linguistic profile of the community
  • the performance of the school on state assessments
  • the percentage of students classified as Special Education/504
  • the percentage of ESL students and their level of English proficiency


Much of this information can be found in the report cards issued yearly for each school. These are available on the internet at [Please do NOT call the school. Talk to your collaborating teacher and check various sources on the internet: the district and schoolÕs websites.]


q     School, Classroom, and Individual Students

  • Describe the school (e.g., size, organization plan, ability grouping, scheduling patterns, disciplinary policies, etc.)
  • Describe the physical layout of the classroom(s) in which you are teaching, whether you are required to share this classroom with other teachers, the technology and other resources available
  • Describe the classroom climate and any issues relating to student behavior.
  • Identify the specific class you will be using for the field experience and discuss the composition of that class.  Be sure to take into account students with specific modifications, students with limited English proficiency, and any other relevant student characteristics.
  • Identify the Core Reading Series Scope and Sequence and Textual Factors; and the Social Studies Text/Basal. 


Finally, write up the implications of your findings that focus on explaining how the characteristics of the community, the school, and the individual students will affect your design for instruction.