Tag Archive for Teens

Teen Instruction: Academic Coaching

Recently, my Academic Coaching was successful for two students, ages 13 and 15. 

teen.4One prepared creative writing and dramatic monologue auditions for an arts magnet school, learning new approaches to excel in writing and presentation.  On her first try, she was accepted!

The other, a high school freshman, worked on getting up to speed with the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards requiring writing and reading in every class.  This former A student was blindsided by the increased workload.  Suddenly, homework was taking five times longer.

Her mother wrote, “Our initial face-to-face meeting with Wayne was amazing.  He brought concepts and strategies to a level she understands, really getting her attention by using analogies between writing and dance, her passion.  He helped her examine and break information into manageable pieces, then organize her thoughts and work to make the writing process more natural.    She meets weekly via telephone and likes his clear explanations.  I like her positive progress and how he encourages her to come up with a solution rather than providing it.”

This student grasped new study strategies and was on the winning track in less than 6 weeks!

Read other success stories about a teen needing confidence, another needing an attitude adjustment, a college hopeful, and a real job seeker.

My work with teens has included students from public, private and home schools.  During six years as a certified tutor, I’ve work with college freshmen, sophomores, dual enrollment learners (ages 16 and up), as well as students from cultures around the world.  I get them to talk, ask questions, and reveal what they want and need.  I start with the skills they possess, have them recognize this, then celebrate each new achievement as they move forward.

*Academic Coaching available by appointment

Teen Writer Success: ‘Real Job’ Seeker

Academic Coaching available

Writing resumes and cover letters can be daunting to students.  This rite of passage on the track from school to career forces them to truthfully examine their lives and, perhaps more difficult, write persuasively about it.

Sixty students piled in the classroom equipped for 25 at my workshop for freshmen at Georgia Perimeter College in Clarkston.

teen writer 4I showed them what the resume and letter represent and the basics of how to craft good ones, then I talked about common mistakes, answering their many questions along the way:

“All I’ve done is study, and I feel like I can’t get a job because I don’t have any work experience?  What can I do?” the student lamented.

“Well, you could give up,” I replied.  The student laughed.  “OR you could highlight the work you’ve achieved — school, extracurricular activities and volunteering.  Employers understand this for an entry level job.  Starting right where you are is perfect!”

“I was thinking I would put my resume on orange paper to get their attention.”  His large personality was even brighter.  “What do you think about that?”

“Well, it will definitely get their attention AND you’ll be remembered. . .but not necessarily for the reason you want.”  Everybody laughed.  “You’re not inviting someone to a party.  You’re showcasing your skills, experience and goals, plus showing how you can fit in the culture of a working environment.  Now if the business throws parties…!”

“I’m from St. Thomas,” she said, her accent thick and her English flawless.  “I removed all my experience gained on the island because it’s another country, but now there’s not much left in my resume.”

“Of course there isn’t!  You’re 19!  Leave your experience in,” I grinned as I saw her sigh in relief.  “Who knows?  St. Thomas could be your foot in the door.  Then it’s up to you.  Never discount your story.”

In the days after the seminar, several students worked with me privately.  One in particular was charged to get his resume out for an open position he really wanted.  The next week, he announced, “I’ve got an interview!”

I coached him on preparedness in answering typical questions like “where do you want to be in three years?” as well as those from his resume.  I even gave him hints about what power tie to wear.

The following week, he came back in.  His enthusiasm was still good, but he informed me he didn’t get the job.

“I wish you had gotten it,” I said, “but that position did its work anyway, huh?”

He shrugged.

“Well, it got you on the fast track to a great resume AND gave you experience in interviewing, both very good things in only a week!”

“You’re right,” he said. “I found two more ads I’m answering today.”

With great attitude and focus to move forward, he’s onward and upward at 18.

This student knows his future starts now.

Here’s another story about Teen Writer Success.

*Academic Coaching available by appointment

Disclaimer —  It’s true: writers write what they know, and, yes, I write from my experiences.  However, all characters and situations in my stories are fictitious fusions, creative amalgamations.  Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or real interactions with me are purely coincidental.

Teen Writer Success: Curtained Confidence

Academic Coaching available

While conducting a writing workshop for teens, I encountered a 14-year old boy who didn’t interact in discussions or make eye contact.  His jet black hair covered his face Emo-style leaving only piercings and tattoos visible.

teen writers 4After giving instruction followed by an exercise, I walked the room for individual questions.  The boy was silent, sitting like a statue with black-nailed hands in his lap.  A notebook was perched atop the desk opened to a blank page harboring a lonesome, loitering pen.

Kneeling next to him, I asked him about his writing experience.  His head upturned toward me, and I imagined he was peering through the thick locks that hung over his face like a sheepdog’s.

Quiet and well mannered, he peeped, “I like to write, but I’m a bad writer.”

“Do you ever write just for yourself?” I asked.

He shook his head.

I instructed him to change his thinking, so he could exercise his desire to write and become a good one.  “Write just for you right now.”

teen writer 5The mop of locks slowly swayed from side to side as he turned away.  I thought of how some teacher, some parent or sibling, even some friend – a saboteur of his creativity and expression – had not liked what he wrote for some reason, then put him down, teased him, maybe lowered his grade.  He believed this person was right and himself to be very, very wrong.  Unrepairable.

I picked up his pen, handed it to him, then tapped the paper and said, “Please, can you give it a try?”  He tilted his head down, and the screen of hair fell upon the page like a final curtain closing on a poorly reviewed production.

When I came around a few moments later, I asked how it was going.  Without saying a word, he handed me the notebook.  On it was scrawled, “I want to write more.”  He wasn’t ready to say he was a good writer, but with the saboteur hammering on the walls inside his mop-topped head, he’d made incredible progress.  With five words, he showed he was willing to face his fear and express his thoughts in writing.

“That’s great.  You’re moving forward.  Keep writing.”

With barely detectable fervor, his head bobbed and the curtain shimmied like a musician playing a slow jam.   His arm was moving across and down the page.  I wondered if he was drawing, but never got a chance to look inside the curtain until a magic moment when it lifted as his head came up to face me.  There on the page were words, row after row of words from a teen experiencing freedom.

I hoped he could see my encouraging smile.

Here’s another story about Teen Writer Success.

*Academic Coaching available by appointment

Disclaimer —  It’s true: writers write what they know, and, yes, I write from my experiences.  However, all characters and situations in my stories are fictitious fusions, creative amalgamations.  Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or real interactions with me are purely coincidental.

Teen Writer Success: College Hopeful

*Academic Coaching available by appointment

The flustered Mom called me eager for help with her daughter Lily’s college application process.

teen writer success 2She mentioned Lily was an aspiring fashion designer who maintained good grades alongside strong extracurricular activities, but struggled with writing.

When we met, I was puzzled after reading the first of four essays. Her mom saw the bewilderment on my face and slunk out the door.

On the topic of a proud moment in school, the teen’s messy essay explained leaving art class and being alone in the hallway when she heard her name announced over the intercom.  She’d been chosen for the homecoming court.  Lily went on to write that she didn’t win, but she was proud of being thought of as pretty.

Looking up from the paper, I found Lily poised and smiling, no doubt like she had been on the football field during halftime.

I affirmed that, yes, she is a lovely young woman, but she wasn’t applying to modeling school.  More importantly, the essay had no interaction, no moment showing her character other than being flattered, much less something that exemplified her integrity in academic or artistic endeavors.  It didn’t illustrate her hard work or pride in her efforts.  The only attribute highlighted was simply looking good.

She argued with me, so I pulled out my best impersonation of Project Runway’s Tim Gunn to let her know the judges would look for a focused message and strong writing skills.  It was time to show herself in a garment of her accomplishments and goals.  “After the entrance committee reads this, do you want to be in for the big college career, or do you want to be out and go home from crafting a pretty, but shallow story?”

She wilted into her thoughts, reluctantly agreed, then bellowed, “But I don’t know what to write!”

“Come on! Tell me one proud moment now.”

“Ah, well, I dunno.  I guess winning Governor’s Honors in art and going to camp—“

“Great!” I shouted as I wrote it down.  “Another!”

writing and sketching“When I accepted my school’s art award and saw the look on Mom and Dad’s—“

“Excellent!   Again!”

“Um, working with Habitat for Humanity then going to the ceremony and being hugged by the single mother who—“

“Splendid!  You have three to choose from!”

“But which one?” she whined.

“Any of them!  What one begs to be written?”

The wheels raced in her head. “I guess the house where I had fun painting the interior after nailing on part of the roof, but I didn’t expect the new owner’s joy to make me cry.”

“Great!” I said, holding up my hand for a high-five before adding, “You can do this!”

Her mom popped in with a hesitant smile, “Going good?”

“Yes, Mom.” Lily genuinely smiled.

“We have a new topic and are underway on Essay 1.”

The mother smiled, and when Lily lowered her head to begin writing, Mom winked at me and mouthed “thank you!”

Looks won’t get anyone accepted into their top-tier college choices, but after writer’s coaching, schedule management skill work, and learning the importance of revision, Lily was in.  All of them.  She had a full court of great opportunities to choose from.  How beautiful.

Read other success stories about academic coaching for immediate needs, a teen needing confidence, another needing an attitude adjustment, and a real job seeker.
 
Disclaimer —  It’s true: writers write what they know, and, yes, I write from my experiences.  However, all characters and situations in my stories are fictitious fusions, creative amalgamations.  Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or real interactions with me are purely coincidental.