This past year was my first year as a classroom teacher. A few years ago I decided to follow my heart and went back to school to become a teacher. I taught at a public school of choice (charter school) in Dayton. All teachers know that the first year is a rough one…and mine was no exception. I was in over my head…teaching 5 grade levels, 6 different bells, no plan period, very limited resources, and extremely challenging students. For the first few months I cried every day. Every day drained me of my passion for teaching and made me question my decision. The workload was overwhelming, but more than that…these kids needed so much more than what I had to give. I needed to be a social worker, a guidance counselor, a therapist, a probation officer, and a parent. I could not relate to the things they were dealing at their young ages. Mid-year, I had decided that there was no way that I could do this another year. I was completely drained physically and emotionally. I just couldn’t do it. But then something changed. I’m not even sure that I know exactly when that change took place…but I know it did. I began to not try and “fix” them…to stop trying to save the world. I simply began to listen to them….whenever and whatever. I learned that for the most part many of them just need to be heard. They need someone to listen to them and to validate their thoughts and feelings. Once I changed, I started to see a change in them. We began to develop a trust and confidence in each other. And once this trust and bond formed, big things started to happen. By the end of the school year, I couldn’t imagine NOT coming back to my school and my students. Looking back, I’m quite certain that I learned a lot more than my students did in that first year.