The Spelling Assignment
I stood in the classroom and observed the second graders as they presented different stories. It was my first time student-teaching. I was a college sophomore, which is the youngest you can observe classrooms in schools.
A familiar little girl stood up and presented her story. I looked at her as her bangs covered her eyes and her thick bobbed hair covered her cheeks. She reminded me of someone I’d babysat from four years ago. It couldn’t be Emma Da Silva, who used to play with a stuffed polar bear she’d called Spike.
The child faced the class and read the story. “For our spelling homework, I wrote about a polar bear named Spike.”
I gazed at her.
“Once upon a time, there was a polar bear named Spike. Spike wanted to play with the otters and the elephant seal on the glacier. There was a rainbow in the sky, which made Spike happy. But the other animals said no when he asked if he could play. Spike was sad and cried. His mommy came and gave him company. She walked with him back to the other animals and made them say sorry. Spike ran toward them and they accepted him. They lived happily ever after. The end.”
The class applauded. Mrs. Jackson, the teacher, stood up. “Wait to go, Emma. But you missed some of the spelling words.”
“No, I didn’t,” Emma said.
“You missed the words, bitterness, community, social, alligator, and cooperate,” said Mrs. Jackson.
“Aw,” said Emma.
“Sit back down,” said Mrs. Jackson. “We’re going to move on to something else.”
I approached Emma as she returned to her desk.
“What is it, Miss. Whitney?” Emma asked me.
I hesitated. “That was an interesting story you wrote.”
“But I’m going to get a zero,” said Emma.
“Well, I remember a little girl who also had a stuffed polar bear named Spike,” I said.
Emma tilted her head. “Are you talking about me?”
“You used to babysit me?” asked Emma.
“Is your last name Da Silva?” I asked.
“I… I did babysit you.”
Emma brightened her eyes.
“Jaylin, get back here,” said Mrs. Jackson.
I returned to the chalkboard but continued to gaze at Emma. That story made me smile.