Fresh-Squeezed Words

Use ’em like fresh-squeezed juice from a fruit. Leave the stale dull words behind.

I need a snowfall of new words. Freshen my point of view. Startle me from the stale winter of tired words. Throw open the windows. Be surprised by words wherever you find them: a conversation, a visual landscape, the words of a favorite author.

Be willing to see anew.


Every day in the writing classroom is a lesson in humility.

Humble people are quiet and timid, right? Is that what makes a good writing teacher? Humble people retire from the spotlight and deflect attention from their accomplishments. Is that what makes a good writing teacher? Humility has had negative connotations for me in the past. I could never be humble. I have too many good ideas, and I like results a lot. I like action. How could humility be the quality I most needed to cultivate to be an effective teacher?

I have learned some stuff about teaching over the years. One lesson I learn over and over is this: Arrogance gets in the way of good teaching.

Working with middle school writers has taught me a lot about being humble. Now I know that being humble isn’t a timid stance; being humble takes strength. It’s a decision not to assert one’s way in favor of hearing another way. It’s a decision to stay quiet in favor of allowing another person’s voice to emerge. It’s a decision to take no credit for the magic that happens in a writing classroom. The magic belongs to the group. The voice belongs to the writer.

It’s best to create the space that allows for magic.

No credit needed. Just a lot of humility.