I love watching my students become independent, critical thinkers, and I know that this can best take place in an environment where asking questions, taking risks, and making and learning from mistakes is lauded. Each year, as I welcome a new group of fourth graders, building a strong classroom community takes precedence. The strong personal bonds that are created lend themselves to an atmosphere where students feel safe, valued, and inspired to challenge themselves. Differing opinions and approaches to problem solving are celebrated in my room, where lively discussion is common. As a result, I am never surprised on the many occasions when my students begin to look at situations in ways I had not considered. To the contrary, it is on these occasions when I know that my classroom is energized and that my students are truly engaged. These are the very best teaching moments of all!