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Back at the end of first grade, my class was learning about simple alphabetical skills with Ms. Stevenson. I got a feeling of empowerment (as much as a first grader could have) practicing and being able to spell a short list of words, and was proud of that fact. When learning, we were all huddled, cross legged on the floor, so everybody could see everybody. The last week before winter break, Ms. Stevenson began asking the class how to spell words as a morning warmup exercise.
That particular morning, she wanted one of us to spell the word, ‘cat’. I was so excited to get the answer correct that my hand shot up before it even registered in my brain that it had. Without hesitation, I said “k-a-t,” with a smirk on my face, presumably knowing I got it right, I looked for approval from my teacher. My smile faded very quickly when I saw her face disappointed, and then bluntly said, “who can spell the word, cat, correctly”.
A hand promptly rose, spelled it right and seemingly 33 heads turned back towards me laughing, to see me cower with embarrassment. The rest of the year, I practiced the alphabet diligently but never dared raise my hand.
Once I got to second grade, I gained a reputation as the ‘kat guy,’ with squeaky seven- year old voices continuously clamoring in my ear that I didn’t know how to spell. I now dreaded morning alphabetical warmups as much as I disliked eating broccoli.
The funny thing was I could now spell broccoli without hesitation. Every time Ms. Stevenson asked a question, my head bowed down and clasped my hands together to prevent my hands going up by all means necessary. The worst feeling in the world was when my head started to itch because Ms. Stevenson called on anyone who moved their respective hand was in the upward direction.
It was now a Wednesday morning, and it felt like any other second grade day, in which I kept to myself and didn’t want to gain any more nicknames of sorts. After roll call, Ms. Stevenson asked one of us to spell the word ‘bottle.’ She scanned the class, but know one raised their hand at first. In my same routine, head dipped down, the front side of my head exuded with an itch that wasn’t going away. I had to relieve the pestering irritation, so I tried as subtly as possible. My hand slowly came up to my forehead and scratched my head.
Ms. Stevenson sharply turned in my direction and saw me just as I my hand was going up. Pleasantly surprised, she called on me. Heart racing, I said ‘b-o-t’ and then hesitated unsure if there was another ‘t.’ I went with my gut and finished the word, ‘t-l-e.’ I looked up and saw Ms. Stevenson smile and say, “good job,” then moved on to the next portion of class. Relieved and extremely excited, no one else in the entire room cared, but that was the best reaction to have happened. Confidence was restored and I had to thank my itchy scalp.
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