I sometimes spend a few minutes after class feeling grateful for even small accomplishments, but this year I’ve actually been silently expressing my thanks at the start of class. It seems to make more sense to me, since I know beyond a doubt that helpful things will happen during class – every class. No matter what plans I put in place or how ingenious or uninspired my teaching might be, ideas of substance and merit will make their appearance among the students, and significant learning will work its usual magic. No, it may not be the particular learning that I was looking for, but it’s always there, the relaxed, trouble-free learning that’s constantly occurring inside all of us. None of us can avoid learning as we live our lives, and my young scholars are no exception. My lesson on alliteration in some Hopkins poems might make only a sleepy impression on the kids, but you can be sure some learning is happening – some subtle changes in the way they think about things. To put it another way, each of my classes is a thoroughly instructive session. The lessons the students learn may be vastly different from those in my carefully designed plans, but I’m thankful for any learning that occurs – and it always does, which is why, these days, I've been saying my silent thanks just before we start.