1. Describe your classroom: who are the students and what are they learning?
2. Describe how your mentor makes the room/ environment physically and emotionally safe for their students.
My first week of Focus Observations was great! I really love working with the kids and seeing all their fun ideas! Focus is a gifted services program for fourth and fifth graders, so most of the students don't really have any outstanding disabilities. There are definitely students who are hyperactive and inattentive, but that just comes with being a gifted student who is often ignored in the regular classroom. One boy even talked to me about this; he has an idea for a new classroom study tool that provides everybody a chance to speak in class so that both underperforming and overperforming students (like himself) can participate. His idea was part of his Invention Convention project, which is a Focus assignment for which everyone had to come up with an original, creative device/tool that could help people in whatever tasks the students chose. The "inventions" ranged from a newer water-purification system that focused on desroying carcinogens, to a pen that writes what you speak, to an RC squirrel with a built-in camera (to be used for security purposes "on the gang-ridden streets of LA"). While most of their ideas weren't fully planned blueprints, they were still partially thought out and surprisingly creative. The thing I like best about advanced elementary students is that they have the intelligence of an older individual, but the maturity and honesty of an elementary student. Therefore, they constantly say and do things that are so amazing or funny and way out of left field that every day is amusing. It's like watching a puppy grow in to its big paws, and it occasionally just falls over in the least dignified way.
The classroom has comfortable work areas here and there (a big plush chair on the side, some computer work stations in the back), and is full of ideas about inspiration and ingenuity. Failure is encouraged, and trying new things isn't even a question in that class, it's an expectation. The students are eager to learn everyday, because they know Focus is where they can put their cognitive skills and creativity to the test, while Miss Keller will still be willing to help them when they are stuck. She is very supportive of everyone's ideas, and even when a student is blatantly wrong, she still commends their thought process. The students only see Miss Keller once a week (students come one day a week from 9:30-2:00), but they are still very close with her.
I'm very excited to start the next week of observations, and hopefully I'll get to see more of their ideas and ingenuity.