G is for Gratitude


Dear Year 8,

I first met Kate Mitchell in the 1990s, when our school was shrinking and the government in power wanted to force its closure. The principal at that time, Robert Jenkin, refused to cave in to the demands of that government. Mr Jenkin was not an easy man to intimidate. He had worked as the president of the teachers’ union and he was used to resisting the pressure of politicians.

Mrs Mitchell took over from Mr Jenkin and she has worked with the utmost dedication and resolution, ultimately making the role of principal her very own and putting her stamp on our school. In the process, she has had to withstand considerable pressure herself, just as her predecessor did. Two decades later, our school has 1300 students and is highly regarded in the community.

Although she began here as a regular teacher, Mrs Mitchell rose rapidly through the hierarchy, becoming the year twelve coordinator, then the deputy principal and finally the principal. In this position, she has worked tirelessly to improve the school environment, to appoint committed and highly competent teachers, and to ensure that the school retains its friendly and welcoming nature. This is a school where teachers and students can simply be who they are: those who love reading can sit in the quadrangle and read; those who are gamers can go on a camp together; those who love the arts can display their talents; those teachers who have a special dream or a wild idea can follow it and realise it.  

We tend to take these daily wonders for granted until the people who make them possible leave us. This week we say farewell to Mrs Mitchell. How can we express our gratitude to her?

Please write a comment in which you describe what you most appreciate about Mrs Mitchell or about the school where we work, learn, make lifelong friends and pursue our varied endeavours.

For instance, I am deeply grateful to have worked for two principals whose kindness, integrity and decency are beyond question. I am particularly thankful that  Mrs Mitchell allowed me to travel to Germany on two occasions to complete courses with the Goethe Institute in Frankfurt and Munich. Most of all, I appreciate having the opportunity to teach in this school. Your class, like many others that I have encountered, fills me with pride and delight — and gratitude.

Kind regards,

Ms Green

S is for Spelling Nightmares

Actually, I have no idea how many exceptions there are to the rules of English spelling. That number is just a wild surmise. 1

Dear 8B,

As you all know, English spelling makes Melbourne weather seem predictable. There may be rules, but they are diabolical 2 rules that are bent and broken at every turn. Sometimes I think that, for every English word that is governed by a clear spelling rule, there is another word that refuses to be subdued 3, like a peasant who is rebelling bravely against oppression 4. English words are defiant, headstrong and perverse 5.  

Melting pot: A melting pot allows one to melt and mix many metals. This phrase is also employed to referred to a process of development with many elements being blended together.

In fact, English spelling sometimes seems as unruly and tumultuous 6 as a peasants’ revolt. One reason is that our language was forged in a melting pot 7 of many languages.

You may find the task of spelling difficult, but don’t let a fear of making spelling mistakes put you off writing. Just keep scribbling. Your spelling will improve with practice – and so will your writing.

I honestly believe that some English writers are simply good spellers, while for others, spelling is an ongoing torment. If you are a good speller, your life is much easier. If you struggle with spelling, however, don’t let this put you off writing. The act of writing is much more important than perfect spelling.

During my years of English teaching, many of the best writers in my classes have not been naturally good spellers. Console yourself, if you find spelling difficult, with this thought: you can get a machine to spell for you. No machine, however, can write prose with the intuition, the wit and the discernment 8 of a human being.

If you have that kind of writing ability or potential, don’t let a few misspellings hold you back.

Despite these words of support and reassurance 9, the Kahoots provided below are aimed at helping you to improve your spelling of the trickiest and most troublesome words in the English language.

Forgive me, I’m an English teacher. It’s my job to be a pedant 10.

Kind regards from Ms Green

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Write a Comment:

List your worst three “danger words” in English spelling. Do you have a method for remembering how to spell them? Here are two of mine: perseverance and diarrhoea.

I try to cultivate the first and avoid the second! 

  1. surmise: a guess or supposition that is not based on evidence
  2. diabolical: horribly unpleasant, devilishly tricky
  3. subdued: brought under control, restrained
  4. oppression: prolonged cruel or unjust treatment by an abusive authority figure
  5. perverse: deliberately and obstinately unreasonable and uncooperative
  6. tumultuous: here: disorderly, confused
  7. melting pot: A melting pot allows one to melt and mix many metals. This phrase is also employed to referred to a process of development in which many elements are blended together.
  8. discernment: high-quality judgement
  9. reassurance: the action of removing or reducing someone’s doubts or fears
  10. pedant: a person who is excessively concerned with minor details and rules