Every so often, my planning produces a sprightly, peppy lesson, one which seems to energize the students from start to finish, and I always realize, even as I’m teaching, that it’s thoughts that are bringing life to the lesson. It’s not so much “me” that makes a good lesson and leads the class through it, but the thoughts that somehow settled inside me as I was planning. It’s as if, from the countless thoughts that are constantly flowing past all of us, a few special ones selected me and started constructing a lesson for English class. They landed inside me and started beneficial fires that then fueled a fairly spirited 48-minute class. I’ve puzzled over this mystery for years and years: where do thoughts come from, and how do they manage to make such brimful life for me and people around me? At the center of a sparkling English class is always the passion of thoughts. Even the smallest thought in the shyest student can flare up like flames among us and send us off in a new direction in the discussion. I’ve seen classes of students completely set free with new ideas about a story or a poem, and it does seem, sometimes, like someone – or some thoughts – lit fires inside them. It makes me look forward to winter, when the weather sometimes turns unfriendly but the fires of thoughts in my classroom always keep us cozy and warm with ideas.
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