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We had a legendary week of snow last week, after two big storms hit us hard. The perk of being a family of teachers: we still celebrate snow days!

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It all started with a big Sunday snow, which resulted in a mini-snow-day of its own when it canceled church. We stayed in, and only went outside to play. Our outdoorsy girl loves being outside, so we bundled up to go scoop.

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Norah even got to build a snow fort with daddy after the first snow.

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…that only improved in height with each snow day!

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To our bewilderment, the cold temps and high winds meant that a snow day was called for Monday at 4pm on Sunday for both UNL and LPS! A teacher’s dream.

After a quick day back at work, though, we had another day off on Wednesday for our second big storm. A bonus Snow Day 2.0!

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Needless to say, it was an awesome week.

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Wednesday, November 14th:

Wednesday nights this semester have been my “night class nights.” I’m lucky to be taking only 3 classes this semester–my practicum every morning, one online class, and then my only night class.

Oddly enough, Wednesday nights are one of my favorite nights of the week! For this, I’m so grateful.

Throughout the last several years, I’ve come to LOVE night classes. 50 minute classes seem way too short now! I love the conversations that we’re able to generate. I love being able to put all of my time and energy into synthesizing the week’s work–rather than working every other day for a discussion that is inevitably cut short!

Even better, my night class is made up of an amazing group of people, and gathering each week to talk about a passion we all share–teaching English–is so rewarding. I always leave feeling more prepared for the upcoming week than I did when I walked in because of the amazing professors and colleagues I’ve met here. I can’t tell you enough how truly remarkable the educators in my program are. I only hope to be half as influential on my students’ lives as my cohort professors have been on mine.

Wednesday, November 7:

Today, I’m grateful for a great practicum experience. I gave a presentation on my 7th and 8th grade classroom tonight, and I was talking about my students I realized that I was so proud of them. I could hardly stop myself from telling just one more story, describing just one more student, detailing one more way they’ve made me a better teacher.

The students at my middle school site have truly changed the way I teach! Being around such a diverse group of kids has been such a great experience. I never could have anticipated how their personalities, their needs, their skill levels, their interests, their ah-ha! moments, their struggles, their defiance, or their triumphs influence me both as a teacher and as a person.

I’ve learned that 7th & 8th graders still need your approval–desperately–and a little positive feedback goes a LONG way.

I’ve learned that they still need explicit instruction in everything–from how to write a personal narrative to how to walk down the hallway–even when they say that they don’t.

I’ve learned that it takes them 10x longer to do the lesson than I originally thought–and that that’s ok.

I’ve learned that a little humor and the occasional Harry Potter reference makes me look more human to them.

I’ve learned that they crave consistency–even when that consistency comes in the form of high expectations and discipline.

And most of all, I’ve learned that I love middle schoolers more than I ever thought I could, and I selfishly wish that I could stay with this age group forever! Can’t I just student teach in middle school and then get a job there, too?? Anybody hiring for grades 7-8 in December 2013?!

Saturday, November 3rd:

Today, I’m grateful for grad school.

(A tired, collective “Sure!” ought to be resounding from anyone who has ever made it through a Master’s or Ph.D!)

But really, I’m so grateful that Peder and I have the chance to continue with school and learn everything we need to in order to succeed in our fields.

In math, it’s almost ridiculous to suggest that Peder could accomplish all of his goals without a Ph.D, and I’m ridiculously grateful that his program provides us with a house, food, and everything else we need in order to be here right now. Without all of the long (long, long, long) hours Peder puts into his math, there’s no way we would be able to do everything that we do here. More than likely, we wouldn’t be here! For his dedication and for his scholarship, I’m incredibly grateful.

If one graduate degree weren’t enough for us, I’m also grateful that I also have the opportunity to go to grad school right now. Even though everyone says that English degrees are one of the most transferable degrees you can get in undergrad–

I respectfully, completely disagree.

English is awesome. I clearly believe that, or else I wouldn’t be here! But an English Lit degree on it’s own, with no focus, is useless. You have to be driven to apply that degree–in publishing, in writing, in education, in something–in order to make the most of the skills you’ve learned in this discipline.

Therefore, I’m terribly grateful for the opportunity to get my teaching certification and my Master’s in Education in order to pass on my love of reading and writing. I am so, so blessed to be in the program that I’m in, to be learning the things I am. I wouldn’t be the same person that I am without the instructors, the colleagues, and the students that I’ve met in the last 2 years. I can’t imagine being in any other field, and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to focus on grad school right now so that I can have a wonderful, fulfilling career later.

Even though the nights are long and I couldn’t even tell you the last time I didn’t have a paper due, I still think the grad school years are some of the best of our lives. After almost 6 years of professional studying, I think we’ve got this down!

Every day at dinner, Peder and I say a prayer together. Then, we list what we are grateful for from that day.

We started the tradition last year or so, when we wanted to refocus our dinner time. It’s stuck with us ever since!

So with everyone posting their “what I’m thankful for” every day this November, it reminded me of our dinner time ritual. I thought it’d be great if I could take a moment every day to expand on our gratitudes and post them here.

Today, I’m grateful for a great day at my practicum. I taught today for the first time in a week (after giving my partner a turn to plan and teach), and it went really well! Some days are still struggles to effectively plan my lessons and to implement them well, but today was a great day. The kids were on task (even though it was like pulling teeth to get them to read aloud with me!), and when I asked them to start writing leads for their personal narrative stories, all of their little pencils started scratching away. I LOVE that they all have ideas to write about, and no one fights us on writing. That, in itself, is a gift to be thankful for!

Right now, I work with two groups of kids: 7th & 8th graders at my middle school practicum, and Kindergarteners through 5th graders at my after-school job. Both groups of kids have had some pretty fun reactions to learning I’m pregnant!

I told my coworkers at the after-school job that I was pregnant almost right away–when I was about 9 weeks. At the time, I was working there full-time (full-day summer care–super fun work normally, but not when you’re nauseous and exhausted during the first trimester!), so I felt that I needed to fill in my bosses incase I needed some extra support. I work in the behavioral room and sometimes my kids get violent. For those cases in particular, it was super important to me to have adequate back up!

Even though I told my coworkers right away, I waited to tell the kids until just a few weeks ago! Actually, my boss spilled the beans, when a kid wiped a bunch of hand sanitizer on my belly and she (being the amazing, overprotective friend that she is) kind of freaked out on him. After that, the secret was out! The little ones just think that I don’t look pregnant yet (because how could a real baby fit in there?!) and the big ones just can’t believe that I’m not finding out if the baby is a boy or girl. Every time I walk in to a classroom, the kids all go “You’re having a baby!” and then the ones who don’t know yet go “WHAAAAT?!” and I end up causing a disruption. But luckily, it’s all for a good cause, and I have wonderfully supportive coworkers who just pipe in along with the kids.

At the middle school, however, I’ve only been with them for about 7 weeks. Even though I’ve been pregnant the entire time I’ve known them, I felt strongly about waiting until they got to know me a little better before busting out the big news. Once I told them, though, their reactions were among some of my favorites!! When I announced that I was going to have a baby in February, one of the girls in the 7th grade class  got this big, open-mouthed grin on her face and immediately looked around to her friends to share in the excitement. The best, though, was an 8th grade boy whose face lit up when I told him the news. Then, his entire head dropped down to look at my belly, and then snapped back up to look at my face again–all while still grinning!

Oddly enough, the 8th grade boys have had some of the best questions and comments. One day, out of the blue, they asked me if I was having twins. Thinking they were about to make a crack on my weight, I quickly diverted the topic to focus on how I am a twin, but I am not having twins. However, I don’t think their line of questioning was in any way harmful–being that their next questions was, “Is the baby a soccer player??” (said in a totally serious voice). I said that it honestly felt like it, most days!!

Overall, it’s been so fun to share this pregnancy with so many children who aren’t my own. I spend several hours with these kids every day and I care about them SO much, and they’ve been huge influences on me and what I want to be when I’m a parent. Though I’m secretly dreading the day when they want to put their sticky little hands on my belly, I’m still happy to fulfill their quintessential childhood experience of having a pregnant teacher.

Norah-roo

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Our family

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Norah’s words & signs

Words:
Mama (7 months)
Dada (12 months)
Kitty (11 months)
Bear
Bath
Book (12 months)
Bird (12 months)
Baby
More (13 months)
All done
Cheese (12 months)
Fish (12 months)
Norah (14 months)

Signs:
Kitty (10 months)
More (10 months)
All Done (10 months)
Bird (12 months)
Dada (11 months)
Mama (13 months)
Train (14 months)
Please (14 months)
Carrot (13 months)
Banana (13 months)
Fish (12 months)
Horse (14 months)
Goat (14 months)
Thank you (10 months)
Milk/Noms (12 months)
I love you (15 months)