Spelling tests always terrified me. I would study and study trying to memorize the words but it seemed no matter now hard I tried when the moment came, the correct arrangement of letters would slip away from me. Invariably when I got my tests back I'd be barely passing.
In 7th grade we had a wonderful teacher by the name of Miss Coffey. We all loved her and to this day when my classmates and I get together we talk about her.
When we were studying Native Americans she gave each of us a tribe and asked us to research, write a report, and build models of their homes. I got the Haida of the North West. I chose to write my report as a kind of diary written from the point of view of a young girl in the tribe. I built a long house out of balsa wood, carved a totem pole and made little people out of modeling clay. I remember one boy, who had the Eskimos, built a wonderful igloo out of sugar cubes. Then we invited the whole school to tour our classroom and see our handy-work.
When we were studying medieval times Miss Coffey divided us into four groups. Our task was to build a model of a castle. I happened to be with the most creative group. One of the boys had a toy medieval army, complete with knights on horseback and working catapults. We built our castle to scale to fit the army. It had a mote with water and a working drawbridge. Around that theme our class had a kind of Renascence Fair and again invited the rest of the school to come visit. I dressed up as a minstrel, brought my guitar and sang Green Sleeves along with other old English folk ballads that I knew.
Miss Coffey was an inspirational teacher.
Imagine my horror when she announced we were going to have a spelling bee and that all of us would have to participate. I don't remember any of the details. All I remember is becoming more and more terrified as the day of bee grew closer. At least the rest of the school wasn't invited to watch my humiliation. It was bad enough my classmates would soon learn the truth.
And then, there I was up at the front of the classroom, along with everyone else. My heart was racing, my palms were sweaty. I was maybe the third or fourth to get a word.
The word was canoe.
My mind went completely blank. I have no idea how I spelled it, probably something like, canoo or cannu, but needless to say I got it wrong and was the first one out of the first round.
I have never been in another spelling bee.
Did you have an inspiring teaching? Did you ever have a moment of terror or humiliation in school?