I teach gifted students, k-12, in a small school. So, i have the easy job right? Wrong. If you have not worked with gifted children exclusively, you have no idea of their woes. They are greatly at risk of falling through the cracks, because the popular theory is, “they are smart, they will make it”. There are so many holes in this theory, I would not know where to begin to dispute it. My classroom goal is to provide opportunities for the students to have new academic experiences that they might not otherwise have. As valuable as this is, it is only the secondary goal. My first goal is to provide a safe haven. My classroom is the place these 45 students can walk through the door and sigh with relief. They have made it to the one place that they won’t be judged. I try to see each person for who they are and what they need at this moment in their ever-changing lives.My favorite story is about a freshman boy who just could not seem to do anything right in any of his classes. If he was quiet he got in trouble, if he was mouthy he got in trouble, if he defended his theory he got in trouble, if he questioned someone else’s theory he got in trouble and on and on and on. It was really starting to cause a problem in self esteem and in his reality of the world. One day he stopped me in the hall after the last bell to tell me he got in trouble again. I sighed and asked what happened. He started his story with, “Well, you see…” I stopped him right there and asked if we should sit for this. He agreed that would be appropriate. So we sat right in the middle of the hall and talked for 45 minutes. The conversation eventually veered away from the trouble and into his interests and goals in life.It was a turning point in our relationship. He knows that no matter what he does I will take the time to listen and care about him. He also knows that if/when he ever has bigger problems that he can come to me and I will always be in his corner. Last week a student had the wrong paperwork needed for her first ever blood drive. She had her heart set on donating and it looked as if everything was going to go wrong. She came to me with tears in her eyes asking for help. After a quick hug, we attacked the problem one step at a time. She talked with mom, got everything signed, sealed and faxed, donated her blood and still made it in time to attend the best book sale in town. These moments are priceless. When students needs can be met right “where they are” academic learning can take place. My gifted kids are going to learn to read and write, but life is so much more and has so much more to offer. By giving my students the opportunity to spread their wings in a safe classroom, they are able to be confident in their education and grow in their academic studies.