“Remember, keep your eyes on your book and then your voice will stay at zero and you will stay in your seat. I’m starting the timer…now!”

I look around. All eyes are on books. All voices are quiet. Everyone is in their seat. Our previous record was two minutes of everyone reading silently. Would we pass that? I wonder.

“We’ve read two minutes!” I announce. “Let’s get to three!”

I walk towards the table where two students often get off task, but both are quietly reading. I move towards another table where a student has a hard time staying quiet, but his lips are silently mouthing the words on the page.

“Three minutes! You’re doing great! Let’s get to four!”

I circulate through the room, whispering encouragement. I’m so proud of how they are focusing on their books.

“Four minutes! Way to go! Let’s get to five!”

As the timer speeds closer to five minutes, I notice a few students starting to get restless. One finishes her book and doesn’t immediately pick up another one. Another’s eyes drift towards the windows. Just after the timer passes five, one student puts down his book and stands up, moving towards another student to make a comment. I immediately click the stop button.

“Five minutes!” I announce before the student can start talking to his classmate. “That was awesome! Pat yourself on the back and I’m going to color in our stamina graph.”

I’m giddy that we more than doubled the amount of sustained independent reading. After reviewing the expectations chart, we transition to partner reading and every single student is highly engaged. They hold their books between them, taking turns reading aloud, helping each other with the words, discussing what is going on in the text. It’s beautiful. I’m so encouraged, and so are they.

This is why I love teaching.

*two days ago I was feeling extremely frustrated about this same class. Thank you to everyone who shared encouraging words and helped me shift my frame of mind!

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