Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Monday, July 25, 2011

To Be or Two B or Not Too Bee

I've said it before, I'll say again. I'm mildly dyslexic. Consequently I'm hardly the world's best speller. Spell check is a wonderful boon and has actually helped me improve my spelling ability.

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?


  1. My favorite teacher was in sixth grade--Mr. Dick (yes, an unfortunate name). He was hilarious and I loved going to school every day just to find out what he'd say or do next. I've never been in a spelling bee, thank goodness.

  2. I stuttered horribly so there are countless humiliating experiences in school.

    You've come a long way, Bish, struggling with dyslexia. Did you know that our dear friend Mel Boring also suffered? May he rest in peace.

  3. I loved my first grade teacher, Mrs. Doyle! She used to bring all the kids home with her for lunch every now and again. Couldn't happen now! But I'm glad you can canoe a canoe now!

  4. Terror and humiliation. Yup, that about sums up secondary school :)

  5. Ms. Coffey does indeed sound inspiring. Teachers are such special people.

    Luckily for me, I didn't do any spelling bees. I also can't remember any humiliating moments. That might be a good thing.

  6. I wish I had an inspiring teacher. Most of my teachers were not that great. Through elementary school, high school, university (one year), and college.
    Wait ... now that I think about it ... there was one! Mrs. Loach! She was my math teacher in high school. I took this math course once just because she was teaching it. She was an amazing teacher.
    I was humiliated a number of times in school ... I don't think I want to talk about that! :P

  7. My best friend always struggled with spelling. She's creative and bright, and thanks to her I've always known that being able to spell has nothing to do with intelligence.

    We had two wonderful teachers, Mrs. Pattison and Mrs. Sweeger. They were both funny and inspirational and kind, and I wonder if they had any idea how much I admired and respected them -- and profited from their teaching.

  8. I loved all of my teachers, but especially my fourth grade teacher because she was the one who discovered my intellect and motivated me!
    I do think every speller, whether a good speller or not, is so nervous in school spelling bees.

  9. I've had more than one favorite teacher, although none of them did anything as fun as the projects you described.

    My greatest school humiliation didn't come from class, despite more than one teacher that tried. I guess I could be an unholy terror when I wanted to be.


  10. Oh no, Bish! That's horrifying.

    I can't think of something right now, but I'm sure there have been many such moments. Perhaps I've blocked them.

  11. Oh, Bish, I can imagine your young horror and humiliation! I had more than one such "moment" during the school years.

    My second grade teacher, Mrs. Dennison, though, will always hold a special place in my heart as she encouraged my love of writing.

  12. I had a lot of teachers I loved - and some I didn't, either because they weren't very nice or because they were boring - but by and large I think I was very lucky. Had tons of terrifying, embarrassing school moments, though - I don't think you can avoid them in that environment, kids pick on everything!

  13. BTW, I just noticed a spelling error in your About Me box! Consiquently.

  14. heart aches for terrified Little Bish.

    Spelling Bee aside, Mrs. Coffey sounds amazing. I love that she made learning fun.

    I had a great high school English teacher, Mrs. Meys. She believed in me. She's one of the people who made me want to be a writer.

    Great post!


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