EDUCATION : Even your bizarre teacher.

We do a spelling test every Friday. The kids grumble, but it's a cheerful grumble. I'm okay with that kind of grumbling. The kind where they groan and moan a little out fear that they'll sound too excited, but guess what?...

...I call their bluff. They do get excited. Because it's fun. Spelling is fun. I always give a 20-question test, with two bonus at the end with an extra fun one, like Mozambique, so they have the potential, should the stars align, to get 22/20. Whoa.

Homeschool children from age 2 to age 11 doing spelling test at table.jpg

So their first test of the year. I do a lot of pacing and giving of stern looks to make them know just how serious it is. Most of my pacing is in front of a giant whiteboard where I write important stuff, such as their chores, and what sounds good for lunch. Also, I write spelling words they're struggling with.

Magdelana was unsure of the word for the primary county law enforcement authority. Otherwise known as sheriff. I administer spelling tests a little differently than you might have seen in the movies, such as the fantastic documentary Spellbound, or the inspiring film Akeelah and the Bee, or the very not-okay for children Bad Words. What I do is give them a chance, if they're unsure, to write their various iterations of a word on the board. The whiteboard.

I want to write this one up there.
she said.

So she gave me the different iterations.




She agonized over each, going back and forth. Finally, she made her decision.

I'm going with the second one,
she said.
The one with one r and two ff's. 

I said.
Are you sure? 

She hesitated.
I think so...

I said.
You went with the first option. Two r's, two ff's. That could be right.

I know,
she said.
But I'm pretty sure it's the second one. With only one r. 

You positive?
I said.
Your first inclination was to go with option 1. Are you absolutely sure you want to change your mind? Are you certain? Do you know? Do you KNOW? 

She sat up and jutted her chin out.
She said.
I know that's what I'm going with.

Well good.
I said.
Because that's correct. 


We went through a variety of words, bouncing between 3rd and 6th grade:

herd or heard?amendment or ammendment?bizzare or bizarre?

I think spelling is great. But it's not even about the spelling. It's not even about the attention to detail, the importance of effective written communication, or the power of learning Latin and Greek roots to build vocabulary. Those are important.

It's about the conversations that ensue and evolve as we do our Friday spelling test. Our tests are not full of decorum and adherence to protocol. They are lively and energetic and sometimes involve arguments as I pull words from various topics we've been studying throughout the previous week.


...they are about learning things like how to stand your ground when people are pushing you around. When you know what's right and people are trying to get you to change your mind.

Even your teacher.

You gotta be nimble, flexible, and mentally and emotionally strong enough to change your mind when it's warranted.

But equally important,

you gotta learn the importance of changing your mind on your terms, not anybody else's.
Not because you're getting pushed or shoved or railroaded into it. 
Not when it comes in a friendly voice and in the guise of an authority figure.
You gotta learn to listen, absorb, synthesize, summarize, make a decision and stand your ground.

If evidence comes along with a reason for why you should, then change it!

But otherwise: stand for what you believe to be right and don't get nudged into changing your mind because others think you should.

Even when they're a teacher.