When I was teaching in Middlesbrough, N.E. England,my first job was at Fleetham Street Juniors. Townie kids to be sure.
As a new teacher I was always keen on having students enjoy creative writing.
I would take in objects from time to time and have them describe them....obviously hoping for a wealth of adjectives.
I could (and still CAN) read my students' stories and understand what they are saying even though the words are not spelled correctly.
One day, at Fleetham Street Juniors, I was 'well and truly stumped'.
A student had written, when describing one of my hand-made pots which I had taken in for students to see and write about, " It has a nolnt".
I was at my wits end trying to figure this word out nolnt. I wrote it in white chalk on the green blackboard and stood back. I tried so bloody hard to figure this one out. I hated letting my students down by having to ask them what they had written, especially when they had done their very best.
Eventually my colleague, and mentor, Sybil, came down to my classroom. We were waiting for her husband to come and 'pick us up' for the drive home.
I asked for Sybil's help because SHE had been teaching for 5 years and, therefore, had much more experience than I.
Sybil couldn't figure 'nolnt' out.
After about half an hour I yelled (yes YELLED)
"Eureka! I've got it!"
Sybil asked what I had figured out.
I told her I had imagined the way the student talked, in his townie Middlesbrough accent, and then looked at the 'piece' I had asked my students to describe.
"It's not ONE word," I explained to Sybil, "It's FOUR words"
Obviously, Sybil asked me to explain.
"Well," I began, "Just look at my 'piece' - It has a hole in it. The lad is describing it very well in the best way he knows. It has 'NOLNT' "
On asking the lad the next day, to read his piece back to me, he did read 'It 'as 'n 'ole 'n it".
So, educators out there. Do NOT 'write off' your 'poor spellers' as 'illiterate'. They have great imaginations and they have many, many, stories to tell if you will just accept them and make an effort to read their stories and get past their spelling.
I DO hope Mark and his team 'pass' this because I do believe it is a very important message which needs to be sent in order to encourage future writers.