I lean over Harry's desk. He is a kid with shaggy dark blonde hair and an attitude problem. He's brilliant. He won't do homework. He fails all his classes and there's no good reason for it.
He's in my writing elective; he's just mentioned that he's not planning on publishing in our print issue coming out in a couple weeks. I'm checking in. This kid has written an excellent biography and several short personal narratives that could be polished with minimal work.
"We're probably not going to have another chance to publish for several months. I'd just hate to see you miss the opportunity," I say.
"I know. I'm working on this story. I just don't have anything that's ready, anything I want to publish this time."
His blue eyes meet mine. I want to believe so badly that he will work hard on this story--that he will do what it takes to make himself proud. "Okay," I say. "It's your work. It's up to you."
Harry has days that he gets minimal work done. He also likes to socialize and stare off into space. Today, he works the entire period, neat rows of blue ink in his writer's notebook.
I hope what he needs this time is a choice, a sense of control.