The perfect paper
When I realized near the end of the paper that I really didn't have much to say about it except, "Wow. That was a really interesting paper," I got a little nervous. I had that "I'm supposed to be the expert here" panic attack. So, I scraped the bottom of my brain barrell, and came up with nothing. So, I just said, "That's a really good paper. I can't think of much to say about it. You seem to have nailed the assignment." She told me, "thanks," and then we chatted about Kenya for a little while. Then she revealed that she knew it was a good paper, and that writing was her passion, but that she had to come into the center to get credit for a class.
At first I felt bad about not being able to "improve" her paper. Then I realized that I had learned some things about writing as a result of the session. So, I chalked it up to providence, and now I have a great story to use as an example in my teaching: find a topic that affects you, that has personal significance, that might even save your cat's life, and it may lead to a more effective research paper.