Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It's Happening.

Tomorrow is the first day of school.


And no I don't have pictures. My life is too much of a hot mess to take any pictures right now.

And no I don't have any thoughts that are all that profound. Just staring at my calendar at that sacred date coming up tomorrow: August 1. The date I've had marked off since April as one of the biggest days of my year.

I probably should feel frantic, but I don't. Probably because ignorance is bliss. If I REALLY knew what I was in for, I wouldn't be getting much sleep tonight. We've only had a week in our classroom to set up and I am FAR from sure of what tomorrow will really look like. I can't believe the time has gone so fast and that, somehow, I begin tomorrow. Am I ready?

Well, it doesn't matter.

Because ready or not, here they come. Room 27 is open for business tomorrow morning at 8:00!

Monday, July 30, 2012


I went home for the weekend...hit up some Holland Fest (Cedar Grove goodness at its very best)...and got a little bit of clarity. I can say that I'm still un poquito terrified to start this teaching thing, but I can also say that I am feeling more centered in the concept that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. I will survive. (Sing it, Gloria. Sing it.)And that I know more than 2nd graders know, so I will always at least feel like (one of) the more competent people in the room. A trip home is wonderful for getting your footing back.

This morning we did a little photo sesh with Xanman and Soyjoy. I've concluded something about these two: they're cute.

Monday, July 23, 2012


This post might seem a tad melancholy, and it is a little bit, but is not meant to be completely that way. Just more reflective. Today was spent going over lots of HR information, e-mailing with Teach For America AND Dominican University people about my licensing classes, and perplexing over how to set up my classroom with my co-teacher. It's that third thing that made me kind of do a double-take of my own self today.

I did a double-take because there I was, in a classroom with my co-teacher, who is extremely professional and good at what she does, and I felt like a big faker. Like I didn't have what it takes and that I couldn't shoulder my half of the work in making this first grade classroom a successful place. Sometimes I feel like a faker in this whole post-grad world in general. I feel like I'm actually still 14 years old and just masquerading as an adult. In this new apartment, driving my Volkswagen down new streets, attending new churches, and starting a new job. I feel like I have to overcompensate sometimes and be all, "Yeah! I'm totally great and I'm loving it and I'm really good at what I do and I'm on this adventure that is exciting and cool!" While all of those feelings are true sometimes, sometimes they're not. Sometimes I'm tired and feeling sick from 4 hours of sleep a night. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed. Sometimes I feel inadequate beyond measure. Sometimes I hate that I can't park wherever the heck I want to park. Sometimes I wonder why I haven't just called it a night on this whole Chicago thing and thrown in the towel. Sometimes I wonder if I'll be good at this teacher thing at all. Or good at this being-an-adult thing at all. I think that's the biggest one that weighs on me. 

But there are other times too. It's all mixed up, really. There are other times where I feel great about who I am and what I'm doing. 

Today during our HR session all the new hires were together so we had to introduce ourselves, where we are from, and something that we are proud of. I had a moment of happiness when I had to think of all the things I'm proud of because I have many. I'm proud of graduating college. I'm proud of my English degree. I'm proud of being accepted into Teach For America and being hired by a charter school right after graduation. I'm proud of my friends. I'm really proud of my family. I'm proud of the people I love. I'm proud of how I put myself out there with people, even if it's gotten me hurt from time to time. I'm proud of being hurt by others and still being optimistic anyway. I'm proud of my sixth grade summer-schoolers. I'm proud of being a small-town midwestern girl. I'm proud of my faith. I'm proud of moving to a new city by myself and starting adulthood this year. 

Maybe that's how it's supposed to be in those transition times. The good and the bad stuff. The doubts that you have and the...we'll call them the prouds that you have. I'm still strapped for cash and racking up quite the debt with the Bank of Brian and Kathy. I'm still really scared when I think of my lack of experience at my job. And I'm still a little overwhelmed when I feel like I'm going through this alone. But I'm also hopeful, excited, and proud too. Maybe I have to find that balance between being proud of who I am and what I can do while also using my lack of experience as a motivator to work my tail off to try and try and try until I get things right. 

I know eventually I'll get some things right. I know that every truly good thing comes with a price. And I know that every time I grow or get something to work out, it hurts a little (even a lot) at first on the way to get there. And I know, parking tickets and rent checks in tow, everything will work out in the end. At least that's what I believe. So with that, right now I'm going to live in the tension between the doubts and the prouds and work as hard as I can to make them even out. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012


This weekend was a big one. I finished the last day of Teach For America's Institute, said goodbye to my wonderful TFA friends, moved into a new apartment, met my new roommates, and will continue on as a real-life adult tomorrow in my real-life professional development session at my school. (I feel like I say "real-life" a lot when referring to my teaching and post-grad life...I think I do this because while all of those things are very real, I don't usually feel like a "real-life" adult.) Maybe I'll write more reflectively on the past little segment of my life in a day or so, but for now I'll let you know the cool things that went down in the past few days.

On Friday night my cousin Craig (who has a very high cool factor) invited me to go see his friend's band at the House of Blues. I grabbed Zach, my co-teacher who loves concerts, and rode up the Green Line to meet Craig and his friends (as well as unexpectedly run into one of my absolute favorite human beings, Lauren Sandberg! Ah!). 

Okay now a word about Zach. This kid has expressed how he feels snubbed for not being mentioned by name in the blog so far, so here goes: Zach was my better half in room 309 as the fellow Reading and Writing teacher and probably saved my life a million times by telling me to stop worrying, finding my lesson plans for me that I misplaced, and telling me that the lesson didn't go THAT badly when it definitely DID GO THAT BADLY. He's a Bostonian, so I like to repeat things in his R-omitting-accent (pahk the cah instead of park the car) while he often makes me repeat my Wisconsin-style pronunciation of "bag." One commonality that made me really excited: He also calls it a bubbler when you other people would refer to it as a drinking fountain. He is in the Milwaukee corps for TFA, so I don't have to say goodbye permanently, I just am super bummed that my partner in crime won't be there for me to make fun of and pester in Chicago all the time. But remember how I'm not getting too upset with saying goodbyes anymore? I'm an adult and I'm sucking it up. (Not really, but I want to sound confident so that's my story for now.) 

We saw the band Mike Golden & Friends headline at the House of Blues and it was AMAZING. They have such a cool vibe to their show (you can download their new album here!) and convinced me of their rockstardom in just a short hour and a half. It was a fabulous night to be in the city. Then reality hit. The next morning I opened my dorm door at IIT and saw this:

Yep. Move-out day. It sucks. Not only are you sad to leave your friends and awesome fun memories behind, you have to sweat like a beast and haul crap around in this sad nostalgic state. But then, all of a sudden, after 14 trips up and down four flights of stairs carrying everything I hold dear, Move-out day turned into Move-in day! Wouldya look at that?  See how that worked out to be an okay day after all? Nice. Here's a sneak preview of my apartment in Pilsen. It's a beaut. I'm just learning about how cool and authentic the neighborhood is as I'm hearing more about it and seeing it for myself. My roommates are two happy and fun girls, so I am really thankful for this living set-up. I'm still a little iffy on how I feel about being on my own in the real-life adult world (there I go again), but it's going to be a fun adventure to figure it all out. Look at me, a Chicago resident!

Not only did all those things happen this weekend, but another HUGE event in my life occurred. I discovered Cookie Butter. It might rank up there with starting a new job and moving into a new apartment on the gravity of impact that it's made on my life. I know there are others out there who have been on this train and I'm just hitching on now, but I have to say that it is the most delicious bandwagon I've jumped on since the joint Pizza Hut-Taco Bell drive-thru craze hit Sheboygan County in 2006. This stuff is amazing. It's hard for me to remember to spread it on other foods instead of just eat it by the spoonful on its own. I'm telling you, give it a shot. Right now. You won't be disappointed. I'll be spending tonight eating this, getting ready for bed, and falling asleep in a brand-new-to-me place. Real-life tastes good. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Notes of a TFA-er: You're Gonna Miss This

Yeah, I linked a sentimental country song to describe my feelings, okay? Yeah, SO?

I almost feel like I haven't been updating this week because each and every day since Sunday has brought so much along with it. I'm missing a lot of things...not in a way that I want to complain about it, but in a way that I want to talk about how much I love the things I'm missing (or will soon be missing). Here's a list of what's racing through the mind of a TFA-er at the end of Institute:

1. I miss my summer school kids. Honestly, I do. It's not that I haven't forgotten the cuss words, the weird smells, and the BADitudes that accompany 6th grade summer-schoolers at all. I remember those things very well along with the other stuff that drove me nuts. But I also remember the larger-than-life personalities, the original rap lyrics, the funny jokes, the brilliant thoughts in their responses and essays, and the trust and understanding built in such a short time.

I remember E, one of the kids who tried my patience the most, who wrote a letter to the class and teachers as a farewell message:

My favorite parts: 1) He made a special note in saying goodbye to the teachers to say "I'm going to miss you guys and you woman." 2) How E closed the note with: "Love you all, no homeo." Classic.

I remember a group of three awesome girls who performed their original "New Girl Swag" rap song that could rival a Nicki Minaj verse.

I remember J, a girl whose eyes lit up when I told her I lived in Spain for four months, and how she now plans to study abroad and study photography in Spain when she goes to college.

I remember two star soccer players, A and I, each morning bragging up the fact that they scored 2, 3, 4, and even 7 goals in their games the night before.

I remember during one of our opening morning sessions when we asked students to contribute positive thoughts, how P raised his hand, stood up by his desk, and resolutely yelled out, "I'm black, and I'm proud!" and sat back down. So awesome.

I remember T, one girl who is bent on attending University of Chicago. T also has some major behavior habits that got her a conference with me for the first two minutes of the lunch period almost every single day. I remember how I was amazed that this daily punishment actually turned out to be the thing that got us to be really close by the end of Summer School.

I remember H, one of my favorite boys, answering a question after reading a book about a woman who was a fishing boat captain when most every other captain was a man. I asked him why he thought this book was important, and he responded: "Some girls think that just because they're girls they can't do anything boys do. It's important because I think girls should believe in themselves to do anything they want to do." 

I mean, do you sees why he's one of my favorites (okay I know you're not supposed to have favorites but whatever)? Life in Room 309 was full of moments like these.

2. I miss my Trinity friends. It's weird that I'm going along through this intense process without my Trolls. I feel like although I'm only 30-45 minutes from most of them, I've been secretly living a life 10,000 miles away.  I miss waking up in a house of my best friends and never having to walk to dinner by myself like I do here. I miss knowing the exact daily schedule of my friends: when they are free from classes or when we can coordinate trips to Target and the mall together. I miss hanging out at the houses on the weekend nights. I miss knowing how all of their days have gone and whether they are having a good week or not. I sometimes miss being around people who think about the world in the same way I do. I actually enjoy being in the minority here at TFA in my religious and political views, but it definitely also can be tiring to remember where I really stand. The newness and independence of this awesome adventure is super exciting, but it's hard sometimes too. I know my college friends are there for me even when my schedule doesn't allow that much communication and face time, but still. I miss those little rascals. 

3. I'm going to miss my CMA group. So much. You were introduced to my CMA and CMA group already. These 13 people are awesome. In two short days we will all be off in a million different directions, off to take up our placement to begin our two-year commitment to TFA in different cities. Although it's only been 5 weeks, these people have been in the trenches with me since day one. As a way of coping, instead of seeing this as farewell, I'm seeing this as an opportunity to have free lodging when I visit St. Louis, Jacksonville, Milwaukee, Detroit, Seattle, and the Twin Cities. Stay positive, right? I have to say, it's going to be extra hard to begin teaching in a classroom without my collaborative of these three guys: John, Tray, and Zach. They make me laugh so much that I don't think it's allowed to classify our classroom instruction as work, but somehow we got away with it.

4. I'm going to miss Institute. Before I got here, I heard SO MUCH about Institute. I heard: "Good luck with that," "You're never going to sleep," "It's the hardest thing you'll ever do," and my favorite: "Institute is the worst." I can sometimes agree with those sentiments, but truly I've loved these five weeks. Don't believe the people who hate on it. I'm living the dorm life, not worrying about making my meals or grocery shopping, hanging out with tons of new friends, working all day with said friends, and getting to know the city in the process. I move into a new apartment on Saturday, live with new roommates (who are really great too!), start paying rent and buying groceries, and basically begin adulthood. Not to mention I'll be starting real-live orientation next Monday at my real-live job. Having my hand held by advisors, fellow corps members, co-teachers, and supervising TFA staff during summer school has been an awesome support system while doing my first teaching experience. I've grown as a teacher so much already and this process has been nothing but memorable and important to me. My first-graders will be sitting in front of me in 13 days on the FIRST of AUGUST (commence nervous twitching), and I have to be ready for them. Institute gave me the first HUGE push to get there.

Institute, obviously, is not just the experience but the people who go through the experience right alongside of you. I said often in Spain that it wasn't the places that made the semester great (although seeing the sights was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity) but the people who were there with me. If Institute is teacher boot camp, it's the people who have helped me survive. I'm off to embark on yet another step of independence next week and I'm not sure that I'm completely ready, but these people have helped me start to get there. They've pushed me, laughed with me (or mostly at me), and given me amazing examples of individuals who embrace their leadership to DO SOMETHING about the injustices that they see around them. If I could describe how I feel about these people I could say a lot of words, but the main one that comes to my mind is inspirational. I'm a lucky girl to even be here in their presence.

Now it's time to hug it out, pack it in, hang out, go out, move in, and gear up. August 1st is coming soon. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Summer school teaching ended on Friday, so this is the first of many sentimental posts on what this crazy Institute experience means to me as it comes to an end this week. I honestly don't understand how the time has gone so quickly. I already miss my sixth graders so much, but more on that later. For now, I'll clue you into how amazing my CMA (Corps Member Advisor), basically my camp counselor, is. We had staff appreciation day on Friday, and we appreciated James with a video message from our entire CMA group, appropriately named SQUAD. I think there's an acronym that goes with SQUAD that somehow shows we want student achievement to happen, but we basically just made that up in order to keep this as a funny name. Oops. This was our video to James for his amazing dedication to our development and success as n00b teachers:

And here is a picture of SQUAD, in all of our glory. These people are all going to be teaching in the fall in Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Louis, Jacksonville, Seattle, and Detroit. My collaborative (I'll tell you more about them later) is all from different cities so I'm already cringing at the thought of starting my teaching career without those three hilarious and energetic guys by my side. I thought I was DONE with goodbyes when graduation happened! Apparently this is one element of adulthood that I just have to get used to: learning to say "see you later" to make it not suck so badly. They truly are my family here at TFA.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Just a little note of excitement that my friend Sam and I pulled off yesterday. Okay, maybe it's not that exciting to YOU, but you're talking to two people teaching 6th graders for summer school in 90 degree weather, and we take whatever we can get for a moral victory.

Sam is one of my good friends here at Institute (see pictures below of the Ba-Ba-Reeba dinner and the Sox game) and she teaches math. Since I'm doing prep during math periods, I could help her out in her delivery. Her class was working on ratios. She wanted to work out the ratio of 2/5=20/50 and asked me to work it into a baking example in a faux letter from Mario Batali to the class. I, an avid Iron Chef fan, was pleased to oblige. I wrote the letter and had her approve it (which she did) and came into her class at the beginning of the math session.

She goes, "Class, I think we  have a visitor!" I ran to the front and said, "IS THIS ROOM 303!?" They looked confused and nodded. So I proceeded to tell them that a VERY IMPORTANT message arrived like fifteen minutes ago and it was specifically meant for this very classroom. Then I read the letter:

Dear Room 303,

Mario's my name, and food is my game. I've been working like crazy here in the kitchen this summer. As you know, I'm a famous chef and I'm in high demand. I've been catering a LOT of fancy events and dinners. While math is not my strong suit, I heard that you guys are THE go-to classroom for fractions, decimals, and percents. When I ran into a little bit of trouble the other day when making my signature frosting recipe, they said, "Mario! You need to ask Ms. Handel's math class for help! They will know what to do." So I'm wondering if you can help me out. The fate of a cake depends on your math skills.

The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of vanilla for every 5 cups of sugar. I was in a rush and already threw 50 CUPS of sugar in my massive mixing bowl! So here I am, ready to put in the vanilla, but I need to make sure I follow the recipe EXACTLY because it is my top secret formula that makes the perfect combination of flavors.

Can you help? How much vanilla do I add? I am forever indebted to your math abilities.

Sincerely Yours,
Mario Batali

Then I said that I wish MY classroom was lucky enough to get a letter like this and my job was done.

Honestly, I'm thinking about renting out my services as a faux letter deliverer. You get to be there with the kids, you only have to be in charge during the fun part of the lesson, and it's not up to you to do any discipline! Perfect! 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

5 Things

I'm about to go to sleep before midnight and decided that this is an event to be celebrated. You see, while going to sleep before midnight when you're NOT at Institute for Teach For America sounds like some sort of cruel punishment, here it is the best thing that could possibly happen. I am loving this so much that if you would offer me the choice between a cupcake party and a 10:30 bedtime, I would pick the 10:30 bedtime. And then I'd probably steal the cupcakes to get the best of both worlds. But still, you get the picture. Here are 5 things that you should know before I go to bed:

1. My name is Anna Gesch, and I am addicted to SmartFood popcorn. I have the kind that's White Cheddar flavored and I literally can't stop. My fingers were covered in that cheesy residuey goodness and I licked them off like a redneck just now to type this blogpost. Yeah, that's right boys, this one is classssyyyy and singlleeee!

2. Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba is the best place to eat dinner for a Sevillan girl like myself. This fine establishment is up in Lincoln Park, so we just hopped on the Green Line, switched to the Brown Line, and it was a block off of our stop (and in an adorable neighborhood). If you like sangria, delicious tapas, and bacon-wrapped-dates, this is for you. So that means it's for everyone. It was UNBELIEVABLE. We went with eight people for a 10:30 reservation (I felt so authentically Spanish eating that late) and ate and sipped to our hearts' content. I'm officially making my parents take me there if and when they choose to visit me.  The picture below has extremely weird lighting, but these were three of the girls with whom I dined. It was bliss.

3. Help me, I'm poor. TFA, believe it or not, does NOT pay me during Institute. I get paid just like any other teacher when classes begin in August. This makes me, Miss Wedding-attendee-new-apartment-livee-new-city-slicker-extraordinaire, very hard up for cash. Plus, the craziness of this schedule impedes my ability to rake in the millions with my usual babysitting jobs, so I'm looking for every way possible to get some extra money. If anyone's looking for a kidney, mine's for sale to the highest bidder. I'll throw in some plasma if you want that too. I'm looking to finance a trip to D.C. for my brother's wedding, so you better offer top dollar for this. My organs are top sellers.

4. Samara lives on my floor. Now I don't know if you've ever had the tortuous experience of watching The Ring or not, but it is the one horror film that I just can never shake from my brain. When I was a sophomore in high school on a basketball road trip, once I was seatbelted in and the car was moving, my friends put it on the screen in the van and I had to watch it the whole way. It was terrible. And if you haven't seen it, Samara, the main character and CREEPY AS HECK girl, has LONG BLACK HAIR. And there are community showers here. And there is this long black hair clump that makes its way into the shower and sets up camp there. I honestly get the creeps erry day when I see it. And then I almost throw up a little because it's also really gross. And then I get creeped out again after the near-puke experience.

5. I'm living up to my childhood camp nickname. At camp in 6th grade a girl from another cabin called me "Raspy" because, inevitably, I'd lose my voice by Wednesday of every week at camp of my life, as a camper OR a counselor. I'm a talker, people, and it can't be helped. But teaching in front of 20 distractable 6th-graders during the day followed by nights of talking and lesson-planning with my collaborative followed by 4 hours of sleep all adds up to one raspy voice for me. I sound like an old construction man who decided that 60 years of chain smoking would be a fun activity to try. I'm trying to embrace the art of the whisper. I'm also going to try to drink gallons of orange juice to solve it as well, because when I was growing up that is what my mom prescribed for literally every physical ailment. If I complained to her about feeling sick or having a cold or being tired, she'd give me the "Well, did you DRINK ORANGE JUICE YET?" line and "the look" to accompany it because if I hadn't had any orange juice up to that point well then I really was completely to blame for being sick in the first place. Maybe she was right this whole time. I'll let you know how it works out.

So there's your five things. Week 3 (the last one!) of teaching Summer School awaits. I'm off to bed so wish me luck in finding that voice I keep losing before morning comes. She's a hard one to hang on to.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Notes of a TFA-er: Halfway.

Here am I. On the fourth of July. Am I on the beach in Sheboygan all day laying out and then watching fireworks late at night, you ask? No, no I'm not. I'm actually lesson planning all night. But that's okay, because I figure as long as I got to spend our freedom holiday up until now (finally) outside in my swimsuit with Liz and Karley, then I can spend the night doing things that contribute to the educational freedom of my awesome kids. See what I did there? Just being optimistic. I think the founding fathers would have liked that.

I AM HALFWAY DONE WITH INSTITUTE. Whaa? How? Can it be? In just a few short weeks this whirlwind will be over, I'll be moving into an apartment, and my real life teaching gig will begin. I'm amazed at how quickly this is all happening. How quickly life is all happening! Here's a list of some shtuff that is going on as I'm looking back on my first 7 days of teaching summer school and forward to the next 7.

1. Friends make things better. While it's hard to make real friends in the midst of 800 sleep-deprived crazed new teachers, I am managing to meet some fun people! My co-teacher Zach spends about 15 hours of his day listening to my weird comments and somehow chooses to not kill me. That makes us friends, right? I've met tons of other inspirational, hilarious, fun, and energetic personalities while I'm here too. I'm realizing that lots of people actually use sarcasm in their daily life, just like me! (See text convo below for some proof.) Not only am I making a  few new friends, but my girl Mel came up to visit yesterday for my first ever White Sox game!! We had great seats (lie) and got to see an amazing 19-2 win. So fun. 

2. I'm running a lot these days. I mean I'm not super hardcore yet or anything, but ever since graduation I've been going as much as possible. During institute it's kind of nuts to wake up at 4:45 am to fit in 3 miles before class, but I'm managing to do so about 3 times a week. I don't even use an iPod anymore. While I used to be so annoyed with the sound of my own breathing, I feel that the electronic-free method helps me keep a steady pace as well as sort through all my thoughts and re-center my life. These days are kind of hectic days, so a stress-reliever like running seems to be doing the trick. We're about a mile from the lake here at TFA Institute, and running up the beach in the morning looking at the skyline is pretty amazing. Also, I go with people who are super chill and don't mind going at my really slow pace. And sometimes they threaten to race me, like my friend Colin, as you can see below. 

3. Sweat. The sweat. Nobody told me that to be a teacher you have to deal with living in your own filth all day long. It is the MOST I'VE SWEAT IN MY WHOLE LIFE. My classroom has its own AC unit, but honestly it barely helps. The second I walk up the 3 flights of stairs to my classroom in 93 degree heat, it starts. The first day of class I had on a light blue dress shirt. Big mistake. My sweat stains were making me not want to lift up my arms, which made for very awkward hand gestures and writing on the board. Like I was some sort of weird self-conscious waddling penguin with my arms at my side. I think I need a prescription. As a TFA-er, I think I need to start SOLUTION BASED THINKING and deal with this sweating problem ASAP.

4. Rollercoaster Time. I've only been teaching for seven days and I'm realizing what an up-and-down job this is going to be. Monday was terrible. The mood of the room was so negative and I'm fairly sure the only thing anyone learned is how to make me feel like a major amateur. Tuesday was fabulous, nobody misbehaved to the point that I had to keep them in for their lunch period, and my lesson went well. I'm seeing that it's going to be majorly important to seek emotional stability...no stress-out-freak-outs are going to be solving anything. I'm learning to take deep breaths instead of hyperventilate when stuff goes awry.

5. Which leads me to THE 'TUDES! Oh the attitudes of some of my students! I love it. When I call them out for the sass, it just builds up even more, slinging back at me ten times faster. I'm fairly certain this is God's method of justice for all the crap I dished out to my elementary school teachers in my day. When I was in school, even in college, I just couldn't keep my mouth shut. I always had (and still have) comments and sarcastic crap to say to show that I was on top of everything. While I see how this is insanely annoying in my own students, it's also really fun. They've got spunk. It makes me excited for their future years, because if they can figure out how to channel those 'tudes into powering their own cool adventures with their own cool voice, they will have an amazing ride ahead of them.

6. Teaching involves dealing with bodily functions. If you want details on one particularly egregious example of this, ask me about it. I love telling the story, but I feel wrong embarrassing one particular 12-year-old on my own blog.

7. The lookalikes are continuing. Two fellow teachers told me I looked like Zooey Deschanel last week and I died right on the spot of fangirl geekdom. Then I realized that some people equate being female, brunette, and possessing bangs to being twins. But I'm going to go ahead and take it wherever I can get it. Also, one of my students told me on Monday that I look like an American Girl Doll. Molly in particular. Velma first, now Molly? Although these are not necessarily my fashion icons, I can't disagree with them all that much. Shoot. Check her out below, and if you're not completely creeped out (dolls really scare me), you be the judge of the resemblance.

8. The little things make my day. Whether that's a text from a good friend asking if my day of teaching went well, or the fact that One Direction is playing on the radio on ride home, I get through the stress of starting this whole teaching thing by the little stuff. One of these little things was found on a survey that we gave our students about how they felt about our classroom culture a week into teaching. While most of them gave generic answers, and my co-teachers got MUCH better reviews than I did, one of the kids who was evaluating me wrote that they feel they want to push themselves and reach for college because of summer school. Believe me, I've been told I'm a BORING teacher and that summer school is DUMB and they HATE the book we're reading and WHY do I need to do this because this is so STUPID and why can't anything we do be FUN. But read that one review and try to wipe the smile off my face. You can't. 

Institute, Part Deux, is upon me. It's goin' down. 

Monday, July 2, 2012


Emily and me, after being stateside again for about a year :) 
This weekend was a crazy whirlwind. I went out downtown Chicago with the Milwaukee corps people (they will be teaching in the fall in Milwaukee, but are in Chicago for the summer school Institute teaching) on Friday night (supes fun), then drove up to Sheboygan County on Saturday for a meetup with friends and for Nina's bachelorette party later that evening. Before that I got lunch with my good friends Ryan and Nicole to hear about their crazy and awesome adventures in their first year of teaching. They both moved to Pittsburgh last summer and have successfully completed a whole year of teaching middle school (Ryan) and second grade (Nicole). They definitely have lots of wisdom to impart to a new teacher living in a new city! I ate my weight in chips and salsa during this lunch and loved every minute of catching up. Then I went to Sheboygan for Kristina's bachelorette party before her wedding in two weeks. I've known Kristina since we were 4 and 5 (we've actually been at the same school from Preschool until college graduation!) and bonded over having really big boxes of crayons that everyone wanted to borrow from Remember when popularity hinged on how big your box of crayons was? Mmmm. The good old days. 

On the way back on Sunday I got a HUGE treat. I got to meet up with a great friend from my time in SPAIN! Miss Emily Rottman happened to be in Milwaukee the same day that I was driving back to Chicago. We met up at Bayshore, my favorite mall, and caught up for an hour over frozen yogurt. There were lots of exciting details, laughter, and reminiscing. Spain people just speak to my heart. She is, obviously, being her amazing beautiful self in Santa Barbara and conquering the world with her new cool job. I'm starting to think another trip to California is in order...

This is what a group of TFA-ers looks like when you tell them
that instead of leaving at 6:30 in the morning, their bus will
from now on be leaving at 7:00 in the morning. A half hour
makes a WORLD of difference, people. Still smiling about this.  
On the road again. Wisconsin highways look
so different from crowded Chicago expressways. 
The DELISH blackberry jello shots that Nina's sister made for
her bachelorette party. They were so good. The top layer is
somehow incorporating sweetened condensed milk, so
obviously I was in full support of this appetizer. 
Kristina opening some of her goodies :) So great to
be able to be there for her in the days before her wedding! 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Nerd Alert

Ummm, I'm having a very geeky moment right now. I JUST WON A BLOGGER GIVEAWAY! It's a $50 gift card to a website full of cute clothes called Panache, and I'm really excited about it. Basically, I follow this adorable girl's fashion blog and she, from time to time, offers her readers giveaways. I entered this one and WON. She even wrote "Congratulations to Anna G!" right there on her blog so I'm considering this my gateway into blogosphere fame. Woot woot! I never win this kind of thing! And $50 is a lot of money to a girl like me who has no income this summer.

Aieee! Day=made. Nay, I'd say WEEK=MADE. 

So moral of this post is in two parts. FIRST: You should follow this blog and SECOND: take note how simply giving Anna fifty dollars is a great way to make her happy. Just saying. Throwing it out there. A thought to consider. Think about it. Call me maybe.