Some Do’s and Don’ts For Coaching Great SpellEvent EFL Spellers: The Correct Way To See The Cistine Ceiling (Michelangelo’s Masterpiece)

The Cistine Ceiling

“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” (J. K. Rowling)

Wow! What a profound quote. Really. It’s deep. For me, it seems to be saying: what you choose to do will define you, not your abilities.

If you choose to be a coach of a gifted speller, a great speller, that choice alone will define your achievement, as a spelling coach / spelling teacher, and more importantly, the learning results of your students.

What follows is this: “if you set high goals, your achievements will be high.”

Conversely, “if you set low goals, your achievements will be low.”

You can quote me on those two statements. Rarely does a person with low goals achieve high results. Just as rarely does a person with high goals achieve low results.

So, what does all this have to do with “coaching great and gifted spellers”?

Answer: Everything. Gifted spellers, when one is lucky enough to see one in action, is a thing of beauty, a work of art, a masterpiece.

A Masterpiece

Let me tell you about Michelangelo. Who’s Michelangelo? He painted the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. Let someone tell his story who knew Michelangelo, a student of his, a man named Ascanio Condivi:

A true genius

Ascanio Condivi was one of Michelangelo’s students. Condivi was not a particularly successful artist, but he did have an intimacy with his tutor that allowed him to write a compelling biography that was published in 1553. He describes Michelangelo’s experience during the four-year ordeal of painting the Sistine Chapel:

“He finished this entire work in twenty months, without any help whatever, not even someone to grind his colors for him. It is true that I have heard him say that it is not finished as he would have wanted, as he was hampered by the urgency of the Pope, who asked him one day when he would finish that chapel, and when Michelangelo answered, ‘When I can,’ the Pope, enraged, retorted, ‘You want me to have you thrown off the scaffolding.’ Hearing this, Michelangelo said to himself, ‘You shall not have me thrown off,’ and he removed himself and had the scaffolding taken down, and on All Saints’ Day he revealed the work, which the Pope, who went to the chapel that day, saw with immense satisfaction, and all Rome admired it and crowded to see it.

For this work and for all his expenses, Michelangelo received three thousand ducats, of which he was obliged to spend about twenty or twenty-five on colors, according to what I have heard him say. After he had accomplished this work, because he had spent such a long time painting with his eyes looking up at the vault, Michelangelo then could not see much when he looked down; so that, if he had to read a letter or other detailed things, he had to hold them with his arms up over his head. Nonetheless, after a while, he gradually grew accustomed to reading again with his eyes looking down. From this we may conceive how great were the attention and diligence with which he did this work.” (End of Quote)

What have we learned?

A masterpiece is created with attention and diligence.

What should we do if we would like to achieve similar results, in the teaching of spelling?

Do: Work diligently, pay attention to the entire concept of what it means to spell a word, to know it completely.

Don’t: Don’t think that memorizing a list of words makes you a champion speller.

Do: Memorize the List of Spelling Words for the 2011 SpellEvent. That’s the entire list, every single word. 100%, completely and totally, fully. Leave no word to chance.

Don’t: Don’t think the Word List is the be all and the end all for the SpellEvent. After you memorize the Word List, the work is really just beginning.

Do: Diligently study difficult words, from the Merriam Webster Dictionary.

Don’t: Don’t learn the British spellings. The SpellEvent uses the North American spellings. Example: “colour” is not acceptable, “color”, the North American spelling is used for the SpellEvent.

Do: Enjoy yourself. Learning is fun. If it isn’t fun===> Do something else with your time…

Best regards,

About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
This entry was posted in Culture, Education, Education Technology, EFL and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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