The Sacredness of Flashlight Friday

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My room is absolutely silent right now. Except for the turning of pages and typing of my fingers, and perhaps later some squeakers from a sweet little one who warned us that he has an “upset stomach today which sometimes gives me gas.”

I wanted to write about this moment right now while I’m in it. Before the bell rings and ruins everything.

M is leaned up against the wall with Catching Fire in his hands. In his prediction on Google Classroom earlier in the hour he wrote, “They’ll kiss again” followed by an emoji only a teenage boy could choose to express his feelings on kissing.

R and L are underneath a table with 4 blankets draped over it. R was distraught he left his book at home on our special day but made a quick choice of Loot from a book talk I did last week. L has been reading Michael Vey since September. Yes, almost 3 months. Bless his heart.  I can’t say the words, “You need to read quicker…or on a lower level…or you’re probably not comprehending because it’s taking you so long.”

No. L talks to me every day about the perils of Michael and his gang. He loves that book. But, please Jesus, let him finish it this week. I can’t imagine how excited he’ll be!

J is wiggling his right leg, fidgeting with his fidget cube, and deep into Jabba the Puppett.  “Awww, still reading little kid books in 7th grade?” you might think. No. This darling angel just wrote some killer responses to Julius Caesar that we’ve been reading as a class. But I wouldn’t dare come between him his Tom Angleberger.

M and F are cozy under a table with Hurricane Girl and something by Joan Bauer. I’ll bet my life savings that by next Friday they will have switched books. It’s what Book BFFs do. Swee, shy F just moved here from Brazil, knowing no one. After reading El Deafo, M recommended it to F, and a friendship was born. Their constant trading of books makes me giddy. 

Did I mention it’s completely dark. No awful florescents overhead. Blinds closed. Only the light of their headlamps I got for 50 cents at Wal-Mart.

It’s Flashlight Friday. And for 30 minutes every Friday I am in English teacher heaven. Not because I can get some grading done or make my weekend to-do list. Not even because they’re completing the state ELA objective of sustained reading or the fact that they’re just plain happy or the accomplishment of building a reading culture yadda yadda yadda.

This is my piece of heaven because it’s sacred.

You can take my instructional time and force me to use a canned program or workbook or pacing guide.

You can take my assessments and benchmark, standardize, and data-drive them to death.

You can take my students and level them and trade their precious electives for a remedial reading class.

But I refuse to let this time be taken.

In this holy time, real reading gets done. Reading that is founded on choice. Reading that is fostered by access to good books. And reading that is flourishing because of time. Sacred flashlight Friday time.

(Edit: After I turned the lights on, F said, “Back to the real world.” Ah, yes, sweet pea, here we go.)

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