There was a moment today that gave me goose bumps. This may have been the first time that this happened to me this year, so I have to share what happened.
There have been many happy, life-altering moments in the classroom over the course of the last nine months, but a moment today took the cake. I was in the middle of giving a good old fashioned spelling test to three of my students when the headmistress called me out of the room. I thought nothing of it, I told my boys the next two words they should write and then left, assuming I’d be returning momentarily. A minute or two later, I returned to the room and finished reading off the remaining spelling words for the boys. When the test was complete, I gathered their papers and quickly began to grade them before moving on to the next subject. As I graded the test of the one boy in class who struggles particularly in spelling, I noticed a strange pattern. First, he was getting more words correct than I ever would have imagined him getting correct, plus all of the words in the beginning of the test were right while the words at the end of the test were all incorrect. I suspected cheating.“Did you cheat when I left the room?”
He and I went back and forth for a solid five minutes. He refused to admit to cheating and I, knowing how the boys typically are (have no qualms about being dishonest whatsoever) kept assuming he was not being truthful. When the lunch bell rang, I dismissed my whole class, but this boy hung back. “Sir, I did not cheat.” He then asked me to give him a verbal test, promising me that he would be able to spell all of the words. I gave him the benefit of the doubt since he is never so insistent. I pulled out the list of spelling words and read the first word. He answered back one letter at a time, spelling the world perfectly. I rattled off the next word. He spelled it correctly, too. We made it through 15 words before he spelt one wrong. He had told the truth, he didn’t cheat—he knew his spelling words. As he spelled 15 words in a row correctly, I could feel the goose bumps bursting into life on my arms as we moved on to each subsequent word. Here he was, this kid who couldn’t spell four-letter words correctly in September, rattling off ten and twelve-letter words like they were a walk in the park for him.
I couldn’t help but high-five him a good half dozen times at the conclusion of his verbal test. “You really know your stuff, buddy! I’m so proud of you. I’m sorry I said you lied.”
“Sir, I can spell. I know these words.”
At the beginning of the year these were the headmistress’ words in reference to this boys’ spelling:
“He is a good student, but his spelling will drown him.”
Today she said this in reference to his spelling:
“You have performed a minor miracle.”
I am a proud teacher today. I am so, so, so thrilled with my kid. I couldn’t be more pleased. My faith in him is through the roof. A little drive and determination on both of our parts, along with repetition and…boom! He’s a kid with a fighting chance now. Bring on that grade 6 exam next year.