We had a modest snowstorm last night, and this morning, as I was sitting before a comfortable fire watching the flames waver and sparks shoot up now and then, I couldn’t help but think of the comfort I find in occasionally sitting back and observing the quiet workings of one of my English classes. Like the fire, my classes often carry on quite well without me. As the students share ideas about the books we read, their earnestly spoken thoughts often bring a kind of soft warmth to the room, a feeling as comforting as the one I felt this morning sitting by the fire. Like the glowing coals at the bottom, the spirited intelligence of the students is substantial enough to easily fuel a 48-minute class, and now and then, like a log in the fireplace that flares up for a few minutes, a student will suddenly feel inspired enough to carry the conversation awhile. I especially enjoy the sparks that burst up now and then, both from the fire and from students whose thoughts come in flares and flashes.