I observed the Shafer Center in Reisterstown, MD on October 21st. I went into the Shafer Center a little bit nervous. I was there for five hours and observed three different classrooms. The first classroom I observed was “Dream 1.” In that classroom there were six students, all boys ages five through seven. There was one teacher for that classroom and about six other helpers. With six helpers, each student got his own adult to guide him through the lessons and activities for the day. The classroom was very busy. Without being told, I quickly learned that the particular room I was in was for the students with the most behavior problems. There were people coming in and out, and other teachers grabbing students out of the classroom and then bringing them back. The students and the helpers barely even noticed I was there with all the craziness that had been going on.
I then went on to observe the “Believe 1” classroom. That classroom had three children, again all boys. The classroom had a teacher and three helpers, each focusing their attention on that particular student. This classroom was a bit more mellow than the previous classroom. The students were more focused on what was being taught, with the exception of one boy who was fascinated with me being in the classroom. This classroom was learning the G sound “ga”.
Finally, I went to “Believe 2”. This classroom had four boys. There was one teacher and then about four or five helpers. By this time I was basically seeing the same thing as the other two classrooms, but these students were focused on math. There were different students learning at different levels so there were two groups learning in different ways with different activities.
In these classes I saw many sensory things happening that we have learned in class. Students in the first classroom were given a sensory break where they were to stand in a line around the desks and told by a recorded cd with music, what to do. The CD would tell them to run,skip, gallop, jump, or walk around. The students really enjoyed it. Another teacher also came in and did an activity with them where a student would sit in a bucket and another student would spin him around while the whole class sang a song that led the person in the bucket to ask each of his friends how they were doing that day. The students loved it and each wanted a turn. Another thing I observed having to do with sensory was that they would always needed to be touch on the hand or shoulder an order to get their attention or to praise or to give them direction. Almost every time they were spoken to, an adult would touch their hand or shoulder. The third classroom, there was a student who was either sick or was going through something very stressful that day (the teachers could not tell), but I saw that they gave him a sensory blanket to wrap around him when he started to cry. It really helped him calm down.
Everyone that worked there was so enthused about their job. There was even a mother of one of the previous students at the Shafer Center that was a volunteer there. While I was in the first classroom with all the screaming and unfocused children, I was getting stressed out for the teacher. She was talking and no one was listening. She would have to stop multiple times to get someone to raise their hand or to pay attention, but she had a smile on her face the entire time.
I really enjoyed my time at the Shafer Center. I went in there not knowing what to expect and came out with a sense of excitement and respect for everyone that worked there. The teachers at the center were all great. There was not one that I saw that was overly stressed or angry about any of the students at the center. The students were amazing, too. Although, diagnosed with the same disability, each one had their own unique twist to their disability.