Friday, December 18, 2015


Samuel towers over me as we walk down the school's hallway. I am his Writer's Coach and he is in seventh grade. The first time we met, he spoke with a strong, confident voice. Today -- a few days before the holiday break -- his mind is elsewhere. The night before I read the last of Jan Karon's books about the small town of Mitford.  The main character, Tim, is struggling to reach a young teenager who grew up in a dysfunctional family. Tim makes the decision to just love the young man.

I think of that solution as I sit across from Samuel, who I know from our previous session, to be bright and insightful. I spent 17 years teaching students who were Samuel's age. Next to parenting, I  found teaching middle school kids to be the hardest thing I've done. Now as a tutor, I need to let go of my ego, my own perceptions, my desire to be liked, and my own agendas, and just be present with the students I work with. Today, no matter how fidgety Samuel is, I've decided just to love him and let him take from me what he needs to get. I listen to his essay. I ask him questions to help him include more details of the story he is analyzing. I point out the parts where he has done well. In the end, Samuel walks away with an  essay he is satisfied with, and I walk away without feeling the frustration of failure because I put 'just love' in my day with him.

Would you like to tutor as a Writers Coach?  Check out the Writers Coach Connection at their website:  It's a great program that should be nationwide.


  1. I am in a writer's slump. I think I need a tutor. I love your just loving philosophy.

    1. Thank you, Jan. How about brainstorming after the holidays? I think the weather has something to do with writing slumps.


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