Spelling Test Failure

Grandma Kc wrote this on January 10th, 2014 18 Replies

This is a special memory from my own childhood.

I can’t recall what grade I was in or who my teacher was when I had my first huge public spelling failure, but I was very young. I do remember it being a very cold and dismal day so all of the overhead lights were on in the classroom. One wall of our classroom had lots of windows so when it was sunny out those lights weren’t on. In my mind’s eye, I was either in my 1st grade or in 3rd grade because of where those windows were but I can’t really be sure which.

I remember our teacher standing at the front of the class and reading the words for us to write down. I can picture in my mind my desk and the way it faced the front of the class. I can even see the paper I was using on top of my desk. When we were finished, she would call on one of us to give the correct answer. To be honest I never was very good at spelling. It wasn’t until I was in high school and really fell in love with reading that I became a good speller.

I know there were other words on that spelling test but I only remember one. When it was time for a volunteer to spell that one word I waved my hand like crazy. The teacher called on me! I was just thrilled. I had this word nailed! I was going to get it right.

I had spent the previous weekend learning how to spell my Aunt’s name. I am not even sure why but I was so happy that I had as that made it easy for me to spell this word correctly. I stood up proudly next to my desk, “foil, P H O I L, foil”. While I can’t see her face, I remember my teacher reacting with shock. “PH? Why would you spell it phoil?” I explained to her that my Aunt’s name was Phyllis and that Daddy had taught me that PH could make the “f” sound, too. “Wasn’t that right”?

It wasn’t right and I was humiliated. My teacher wasn’t very understanding either! There are many other words that have the “f” sound but are spelled with “ph”, you know. Words like phone, phonics, physician, etc. The English language can be very confusing to anyone, especially a little girl!

Kc the Child and Aunt Phyllis

This is the same Aunt Phyllis who is my Favorite Volunteer, Inspiration and Role Model.
She has been in my life forever.

18 thoughts on “Spelling Test Failure

  1. Olga

    As a life long poor speller, I got over that feeling of humiliation early on and made friends with the dictionary. Later, as a teacher, I was once praised in an evaluation for my modeling of dictionary use for the students…even though it was really all about me at the time, not them. Oh, yeah, heh, heh, that’s what I was intent on doing…modeling.

    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      I have never gotten over believing I am a poor speller. I have a bookmark to Dictionary.com on my desktop and go there daily! 99.9% of the time I am right – and it surprises me! But as Jenna would say — I lack spelling confidence!

  2. Judy@grandparentsplus2

    Love this post because it brings up so many thoughts. I was a good speller but worked at it and carried one of those small paper Webster dictionaries and a thesaurus around all the way through college. Can you imagine now with computers, google and spell check? Our grandchildren may not learn cursive and will they be able to spell without spell check? Would they know what to do with a dictionary or a thesaurus in paper format? Mine are still hysterical over me using a paper phone book periodically. Keep these memories coming – I love them. :-)

    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      Things certainly have changed! I admit I use Dictionary.com over a hardbound book but I do understand what you mean! I am thrilled that Amara’s school is still teaching cursive. Amara is a very good speller and I think it is because she has been reading or read to since day one. She loves books – paper and electronic! I love that the internet has brought us such easy access to so much information. Should be an interesting future. Glad you are enjoying the memories. I am having fun!

    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      Aunt Phyllis really is a sweetheart and definitely my role model! You just reminded me that I will have to print this and mail it to her! I don’t know if SHE knows this story and I bet she would love it!

  3. KImberly

    I hope you were in third grade and not expected to spell “foil” in first. While I don’t agree with the teachers reaction, I can’t imagine anyone that wouldn’t be thrilled that a first grader had figured that out. I’m thrilled when my fifth graders make real connections to any learning. Sad. I always wanted to be Auntie Mame to my nieces and nephews. I bet your auntie would have loved writing from you, even if ever after you spelled her name, “Fillus.”

    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      It would make sense that it was 3rd grade. It is funny how I can remember some things from that day so clearly but I cannot see my teacher’s face. I do remember my 3rd grade teacher though and I can see her shaking her head and not being the least bit understanding. I can almost hear her voice!

      Hope you had a good weekend. Amara goes back to school tomorrow after 3 long weeks off! She can’t wait to talk to all her friends. She is growing up!

  4. Sandy Siegel

    I want to just wrap my arms around little Kc and hug her! I think your teacher should have been a little more understanding, and maybe even proud of you for sounding the word out. You’re right about the English language. If it’s hard for us to learn, imagine someone from a foreign country trying to make sense of it!!

  5. sarah christian

    Oh, my goodness, bless your heart. The teacher could have handled that a lot better than she did. It obviously left quite a memory. And then when you started reading you learned to spell! Problem solved! Way to go!

  6. Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs

    Oh, poor little Kc’s heart. A crushing blow. Your logic made sense; it’s our language that doesn’t. Hugs to the little girl you.

    I remember only one spelling word from long ago. It was fourth grade. This one I got right, though, but only because by fourth grade I’d already dealt with it far too many times. The word was pneumonia. I was the only one in the class that got it right! I can still see it written on the chalkboard as the teacher explained the spelling to the rest of the class. Another idiotic spelling of a word, for sure.

  7. Joyce

    Hmmm….just sitting here wondering why that teacher couldn’t have replied that you were certainly correct that there are many examples of that in the English language – just not for the word “foil.” She could have launched into building a list of those words to prove your point and educate her students. “Phlox, Philistines, philosophy, phone”….now that would have been a lesson to remember!
    My other reaction is the same as Sandy’s – I want to reach back into time and hug that little Kc and whisper to her that some days kids are smarter than their teachers – and this was one of them!

  8. Launna

    I was always a pretty good speller as I had a great love of reading from a very early age… but I did not like to be on center stage in school… sure enough I would make a mistake at that time and feel humiliated… I’m glad for getting older and realizing that none of that was as important as I thought it was… I still don’t like to be on center stage but I am working on it… I hope you have a great week ahead :)

  9. April

    Thanks for sharing your story! Isn’t it amazing how something like that can remain with us our entire life? It is a good reminder to not just teachers, but to all adults, to remember how much our words and reactions can affect children. I think your response was extremely clever. I still use a dictionary, a thesaurus and spell check. I am sure Aunt Phyllis would love it if you shared it with her. Love you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>