Sunday, March 13, 2011

Teaching and Adoption Updates

I recently admitted to a group of friends that I have a teacher's version of "senioritis."  I am losing motivation to grade papers, conduct writing conferences, and instruct effective development of an argument.  I am so tempted to just tell my students stories the entire class period or let them tell me stories.

I have been teaching English for five years, and I tutored writing at BYU for three years before that.  I did the math (I'll admit, it was difficult for me), and I think in the past eight years, I've helped about 750 students with their writing.  With each of those 750 students writing several essays a semester...oh, I don't even want to think about the number of papers I've graded or hours I've spent grading.

I will not miss the grading.  But I will miss witnessing the learning.

Yesterday in class,  I stood at the front of the room and smiled as I watched my students intently peer editing.  I told them it "makes my heart happy" to see them ferociously writing comments and then thoughtfully conferencing with one another.

It also made my heart happy when I was grading essays during my lunch period, and I realized that their writing is improving.  I looked up from the stack of papers and said to my co-teacher in an awestruck voice, "Sherry, their writing is getting so much you know what that means?  It means they're listening." 

I am proud of them.  And I love them.  I love that we have ridiculous conversations like this one that occurred in the computer lab earlier this week:

Me:  Nick, you can't eat your lunch in here.
N: Oh come on, Mrs. Nielson.  I'll give you one of my cookies.
Me: No--put it away.  [I walked several steps before his words registered, and then I stopped and turned back to him:]  Are the cookies homemade?
N: [Sensing that he had identified my weakness:] They are.  My mom made them last night...chocolate chip.
Me:  [Pausing to think for a moment--but not much of a moment because we all know what a sucker I am for homemade chocolate chip cookies:] Okay.  Just this once.  [The entire class laughed as Nick handed me one of his cookies. I turned my attention to the rest of them and said:] Don't look now because I'm accepting a bribe!!

These are the moments that I will miss as a teacher.  And, believe it or not, I may only have about six weeks left.

Ryan and I recently found out that we are going to have to move to Colorado sooner than we had thought in order to be approved to adopt before the baby comes.  It took us months of paperwork to get approved to adopt in the state of New York, and we basically have to do it all over again for the state of Colorado. 

So we will be leaving Buffalo very soon after Ryan graduates.  My last day of teaching will probably be Friday, May 6th, and I will spend the next week packing and participating in graduation festivities (including our families coming to town).  Shortly thereafter, we will drive away from the life we have built and loved here.

It makes me sad just thinking about it.

My students don't yet know about the adoption or that I have to leave before the end of the school year.  I think I am going to tell them about the adoption on Tuesday, and I will tell them about our move before the end of the month.

As excited as I am to be a mom, I know I will miss my students.  This has been a great phase of my life--but I know the next phase will be great too.

We are going to meet Katie and her boyfriend and their families this week.  I am so excited!!  It has been such a wonderful experience to correspond with them this past month, and we can't wait to meet them in person.

I want to thank everyone for your overwhelming support.  Your blog comments, emails, phone calls, and in-person congratulations mean the world to us.  We are so very fortunate to have so many people rejoicing with us.  It is humbling and so exciting.

Several of you have asked if we will find out about the baby's gender.  At Katie's last doctor appointment, they gave her an ultrasound and were pretty sure that they could determine the baby's gender...but we will know for sure on Friday, and I will announce it at that time.  Eeeeeeeeee!  (That is an excited squeal.)

Can I just say that I am so excited to have a chubby little baby to squeeze and snuggle???

We feel so good about everything with Katie, and we have removed our adoption profile from the LDS Family Services website, so anyone who has our button on your blog can take it down.  Thank you so much for your help and support!!  It filled me with hope when I would see our button on the blogs of our friends and family.  It was a constant reminder, "Rachel, people care.  People are praying for you."  Really, as difficult as the last year and a half has been for us, it has been a huge comfort and blessing to feel the love of so many people.

I will never be able to say this enough: thank you.  Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you.

Wish us luck this week!  Keep us in your prayers!!


  1. This may be one of those times when being a touch sad is actually a good thing. Being just a little sad about finishing your teaching career (for now) and moving away from Buffalo means you have enjoyed your life--not just survived it in the meantime while you were waiting to have a baby (not that anyone who reads your blog would think that about you). My sister-in-law who is 33 is getting married (first marriage) in May. She has waited an awfully long time to be getting married and we are all thrilled for her, and even so, it's just a tiny bit sad. She isn't ALL OURS anymore. She won't have the independence she is accustomed to, etc. Obviously, these are concessions worth making, but it's still valid to mourn the loss. I can't tell you how thrilled I am for you that those chubby cheeks (and thighs and knuckles) will be yours to squish and squeeze and snuggle in a few short months! Much love and congratulations headed your way! (And prayers too!!)

  2. So many things happening! I am so excited that you get to meet your birthmother/birthfather and family! We will continue to pray for you, Ryan and the birthparents.

  3. Since I had our daughter during finals week in May I didn't have to return to teaching til after the summer break. I made it 3 days into the new school year. I kept crying that I missed my baby too much to leave her all day . . . so my husband encouraged me to resign. Best decision!! However, in the following months, I would randomly sigh deeply and exclaim . . . I miss my students. If I ran into one around town I would get a huge hug and a request from them that I return. The rest of the day, I would be a bit sad about all the "kiddos" from my class. My husband would just laugh.

    I think it is a sign of a good teacher that you care so deeply.

    Enjoy your time at home with your little one! They don't stay little long. I would often tease that I traded 150 students for 1 and she was keeping me busier! Our daughter is about to turn 4 now and begin school herself this fall :( I know she is ready . . . but since I have already been teary eyed a few times, I know it is me that is not ready for her to start spending chunks of time away.

    Good luck on your move.

  4. That story is classic!!! I am really scared and sad to move on, too. Even though I'm moving (probably) to a place I'm totally comfortable with and where family is, it's still a big change from my current way of life, and I HATE moving. Ugh.

  5. Oh boy, hoops to jump and paperwork to redo! Bagh!
    As I'm writing this, Penny is sitting beside me picking her nose. Just think, this will be you pretty soon. :)

  6. I love that story! That is totally something I would do. I once saw one of my student's latin roots presentations by accident (I walked in to give Jen something while she was presenting) and the sentence she had made up for an original use of the root "sacre" was "Chocolate is sacred to Laura." What the?!? She didn't even know I would see it!

  7. So exciting!!! Congratulations!! Have you received any more bribes?

  8. Hi,
    You don't know me, I'm one of Betsy Hawkins cousins and I started reading your blog after she posted about you guys a couple months ago. Just wanted to let you know even strangers have been, and are, praying for you. :] So glad to hear about your upcoming adoption. It makes my heart happy to know you'll finally be able to be parents. Good luck. We'll be praying for you. :]

  9. The bit about the cookies made me laugh out loud! I remember bribing a teacher in high school with chocolate truffles.


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