Miss Cardigan's Blog

Instilling Catholic Values, One Middle Schooler at a Time

Getting to know you! Getting to know all about you! September 20, 2010

Filed under: Welcome — misscardigan @ 12:57 am

We started school the Wednesday after Labor Day.  While in some respects it is hard to believe we have only been in school 8 days, in others it is hard to believe we have been in 8 days!  There is so much to do in the beginning of the year: the set up, teaching procedures, figuring out what information the students know/have retained over the summer months, what their interests and needs are.  Perhaps the part that is most important, and at times frustrating, to me is the getting to know you phase.

“Getting to know you,

Getting to know all about you.

Getting to like you,

Getting to hope you like me.”

Taken from the musical The King and I, those words perhaps best sum up my feelings at the beginning of the year.  While I know it shouldn’t matter to me whether or not my students like me, I know that we will have a better year if they do like me (at least a little bit).

So far, I feel like we are off to a good year.  There are some things we will fix tomorrow, and some things that we will just be working on all year, but all in all, I’m hopeful that it will be…



Grace Filled Moment July 19, 2010

Filed under: Simple Moments — misscardigan @ 2:48 am

Besides being a teacher, I also work at a summer camp.  I have known many of the kids who attend camp for YEARS as many of the kids return to us summer after summer.  There is one particular camper who I have enjoyed getting to know for the past 6 years.  She is entering 8th grade this fall…it is hard to believe that when I met her she was going into 3rd.

One of the most wonderful aspects about seeing these kids year after year is that I can truly appreciate their growth in a different way from my students.  It’s true that I see how my students grow year after year and can appreciate their maturity, but it is not exactly the same as watching my campers for 6 or more years.

One of my first memories of the camper I mentioned is her singing Don’cha (Don’cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me…) as an 8 year old.  I’m still a little scarred.  And now, I listen to her talk about the various boys she has crushes on, and who she likes at camp (I don’t have the same “no boys” rule with my campers that I do with my students).

But today.  Today, I had the opportunity to see yet a different side of this camper.  What I didn’t mention is that this camper happens to attend my parish.  From time to time I will see her and her family there.  Well, today she was there–she was an altar server.  It was a bit of a shock when I saw her, since I attend mass regularly and have never seen her before, but it ended up being a truly grace-filled moment.  She was so reverent and attentive to the altar– I was so awed by watching her up there.  A far cry from the little girl who used to sing “Don’cha.”

I talked to her after mass, and it turns out she has been an altar server since the 5th grade.  Apparently they usually only schedule her for morning mass.  I’m glad they assigned her to this Sunday as well.


Glimpses of Success July 17, 2010

Filed under: Modesty — misscardigan @ 2:50 am

Today I went to a local town fair with one of my best friends.  We enjoy spending time outside and spending little money, and as this was outdoors and free (minus our ice cream–totally worth the outrageous price!) we thought it was right up our ally.

The one thing about going to local events is that they are local.  Since I teach in a local school, it is always possible that I’ll run into students.  Tonight was a popular fair night as they had fireworks.  So, as to be expected, I ran into several former students, from both this year and two years ago.  It’s always great to see former students and tonight was no different, although there was something special about it.

My friend and I have similar thoughts on our faith, particularly in how we live out our faith.  We are both very social justice oriented and try to present ourselves in a conscientious (read: modest) way.  We’ll often go out and comment to each other that we can’t believe some of the clothing choices girls, teens, young women, older women choose to make–specifically in the cleaveage they show and the short length on shorts/skirts/dresses.  As I’ve indicated in previous posts, I try my best to instill some of these values into my students.  I always wonder if they are worth it…

Tonight was no different for my friend and I.  As we walked around, we saw plenty of cleavage and too short shorts.  We shook our heads as we tried to think what was going through theirs (if ANYTHING was going through theirs) when they got dressed.  Then it dawned on me: my girls were dressed appropriately.  Their shirts were not necessarily anything I would have worn, but I saw no butts, no bras, and no boobs.  Apparently they remembered the 3Bs.  Success.


Is this what you get? April 18, 2010

Filed under: Teaching — misscardigan @ 7:35 pm

Friday was the 8th grade retreat.  My grade partner and I had planned an off campus retreat, on a nearby retreat facility, lead by two retreat directresses.  Truth be told, I was a little skeptical.  I love retreats.  I originally wanted to be a Theology major so I could become a high school campus minister and run retreats.  I have gone on tons of retreats, many of which were incredible experiences.  I have also been on retreats that…well, let’s just say they a lacked a little bit.  I know that 8th graders can be difficult to impress and I didn’t want this experience to turn them off from retreats.  Luckily, it was awesome and I think over all the girls had a great time.

The day’s events started with prayer, and a reflection down 9 years of memory lane.  It was so fun to watch the girls explore and explode over the memories of the time they have spent together.  They discussed their gifts and talents and how it is important to allow everyone to follow their dreams (we also watched a very poignant clip from Happy Feet–such a good movie!).  It ended with an opportunity for them to write their dreams and ambitions for their lives. Broken into small groups, they were handed a paper which had a circle drawn on it.  In the circle they needed to put their hopes/dreams/ambitions/desires for their lives.  Outside the circle they were to record any obstacles to achieving those dreams.  As I walked around and glanced at their papers, I was amazed at their thoughts.  They wanted anything from travel, to education, to marriage and children.  They recognized obstacles as well–and ranged from almost anything and everything.  One obstacle that consistently struck my eye was “boys.”  I was glad that they recognized the potential distraction and obstacle that boys can cause in their lives.

At the end of the exercise, they put their papers on the wall and the retreat leaders went over them.  My grade partner and I were sitting next to each other, slightly removed from the group, taking it all in.  One of the obstacles the retreat leaders found on the paper was “other gods.”  She paused and question the group about it and they discussed various idols, etc.  My grade partner leaned over to me and said “is this what you get?”  At first I was confused and didn’t know what she was referring to.  Then, it dawned on me–in her teaching of math and science, she rarely sees the depth of our girls.  We had a quick laugh and I explained to her, yes, I see this all the time.  It made me think though.

Sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in the difficulty of trying to instill good values into our students, that we forget to see the gems of what we have in front of us.  And that yes, for every student we have who will potentially make some bad decisions, we have a BUNCH who won’t.  And at the end of the day–they do know.  They do get it.  They may choose to ignore it, but that is their decision.  All we can do is encourage them and pray for them and the decisions they will have to make.


Purple Chin March 22, 2010

Filed under: Teaching — misscardigan @ 8:03 pm

One of my daily struggles is reminding my students not to write on their hand.  They do it for a variety of reasons–as a reminder for homework,  missing worksheet, or because they are bored.  I try to encourage the use of the planner for reminders and scrap paper for doodling, but at the end of the day, I have to choose my battles.  So, I do verbal reminders and “the eye” when I catch them.  I try to discuss with them why they shouldn’t draw on their hand…messy, Body as the Temple of the Holy Spirit (does God want “math worksheet” written all over God’s temple?  Personally, I don’t think so), and the fact that it is a rule.  I’ve even thought about referencing Sarah Palin’s hand check during an interview as a way to dissuade them (You don’t want to be a famous politician and get caught looking at your hand for notes during an interview do you?—here it is, in case you missed it!)

Today, however, was perhaps the best lesson in “why not to write on my hand.”  I came back to my girls after they were at a special class and noticed that one of them had a faint purple tint to her chin.  I went over and inspected, trying to figure out what could possibly cause purple skin discoloration.  Finally, I looked at her hand and there it was—a big purple box on her hand.  CAUGHT!  She had clearly rested her chin on her hand and the ink had transferred from the hand to the chin.  Well, she dashed out to the bathroom to do some damage control.  I hope this experience left a lasting mark (hehe) on her!


The Mall

Filed under: Clothing,Modesty — misscardigan @ 1:39 am

Today I went on a much needed shopping adventure with a friend.  It was a long week at work, and we had both decided that a trip to the mall was in order.  Let me just say-it was perfect and exactly what I needed.  But there is something about the mall these days, which always makes me realize how …inappropriate…so many clothes are.

It is hard to try and teach young teenage girls how to dress modestly (and beautifully) when it feels like all they are shown are skimpy outfits that barely cover anything.  On Friday, I had a conversation with one of my classes regarding clothing and how we present ourselves to the world.  Nothing Earth shattering here…pretty basic “Body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit” so we should respect it and present it to the world as a place where God dwells along with “We all make snap judgments about a person” so let’s make sure we are sending the world the correct message about ourselves.  We discussed three girls: Girl A is modestly and attractively dressed, is clean and put together.  Girl B is grungy in baggy sweats, has stains, and obviously hasn’t showered in a while.  If Girl B is “overdressed” then Girl C is “underdressed.”  She is showing too much skin, her pants are skintight and her makeup is out of control.  We discussed how Girl A has a positive self-image and is a confident young woman.  Girl B has a low self-image and does not care much about herself.  Girl C also has a low self-image and doesn’t believe she can do better (she probably also has poor interactions with young men—but that is a conversation for a different day!).

And yet, none of this is the hardest part of the “clothing” talk.  No, the hardest part is addressing the fact that sometimes it is their MOMs who are bringing the inappropriate clothing into the dressing room for them to try on.  This year, I handled the Mom card like this: “Girls, Mom’s are great.  And usually, Mom’s have really great ideas/opinions on clothing and aren’t going to lead you to anything inappropriate.  But sometimes…sometimes Mom’s forget, too.  They are only human after all, and sometimes they get wrapped up in what is presented as stylish and fashionable.  And sometimes, girls—you are annoying, so mom feels like it’s easier to just give in to you, then to fight with you.  So a couple things.  If you see mom looking at a shirt that you KNOW would make Miss Cardigan cry, tell her you don’t think it would fit you properly.  And save yourself a battle, by not attempting to bring clothes you KNOW are inappropriate into the dressing room.  That way, you won’t be annoying and mom won’t have to fight you on a piece of clothing everyone KNOWS is not okay.”

Who knows—perhaps the moms will learn something out of the “clothing” talk, too!


The 3 Bs March 19, 2010

Filed under: Middle School Dance,Modesty — misscardigan @ 8:31 pm

When I was in college and sorority recruitment time rolled around, my sisters and I always spent a lot of time discussing how to best interact with the Potential New Members (PNMs).  There were three things that were off-limits, so to say—the 3 Bs: Booze, Boys, and Brands.

So last week, as I was preparing to host a 7th and 8th grade dance, I revisited and updated the “off limit conversation list” of my sorority, and applied it to inappropriate clothing choices instead.  A few days before the dance, I presented my students with a “Clothing Check List:” 3 Bs: No bras, no boobs, no butts.  It seems logical to me, a confident and moral woman in her 20s, that we should not show our boobs, bras, or butts in the middle of a dance, but I understand that this is not always the message that is presented.  So I set my standards and expectations.

Fast forward to the night after the dance, when I went to a local high school musical and ran into several of my former students.  I explained to them my new check list and said that I wished that I come up with my check list when I still had them.  They got a kick out of it!

Monday afternoon I checked my email and realized that I had received a message from one of the girls I saw at the musical and had been telling about the 3 Bs.  She sent me a link that they had been told about in Theology class—a link she believed would go along with my 3 Bs and that I should share with my girls.

It was a link to Pure Fashion, which is (from my understanding) similar to a Christian modeling program.  It encourages/requires its participants to dress in a modest way.  Although I disagree with some of its requirements (I mean, come on—there are plenty of strapless dresses that show no cleavage—and I personally think there is a time and place for them), overall I think it is a very positive idea.

Here is a link to the Pure Fashion Modesty Guidelines (the link my former student sent me).