Header/Navigation Bar/Social Media Icons

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Educator Spotlight: Melissa Ferguson

Hey, y'all! I hope if you're back to school that you are having a wonderful week back and if you haven't went back, then....I am super jealous (haha)!

I must say I am impressed and a bit skeptical all rolled into one. I blogged earlier in the week and my hopes were to have a post each Thursday. Fingers crossed I can stick with it! I am excited for a new "segment" on the blog. It will be called Educator Spotlight. I don't know about you all, but I learn the most from others. Everyday I learn from our teachers, from fellow administrators, from our paraprofessionals, and central office staff. I enjoy talking about education and getting ideas from others. It's so neat hearing a totally different perspective. My vision is to interview different education professionals to ask questions, share their ideas, and have the chance to celebrate how awesome they are. Megan and I may be doing this on Principals with Purpose (you can find that here), as well. So, be on the look out for that!

Today I am super excited to share a little Q&A with a sweet friend of mine. She is the counselor at the school I work at and is a past Kindergarten teacher (teacher of the year to be exact)! Her name is Melissa Ferguson and I thought since it was her first year as a counselor, it would be a wonderful opportunity for her to share her thoughts so far. You would never know it's her first year because she is rockin' it. She also has a new blog called Classroom to Counseling and you can check it out HERE I am beyond excited to read this. Melissa is a wealth of knowledge and I learn so much from her. I have a feeling it will also be quite witty (think Lorelai Gilmore).





So, let's start. 



1.      What has been the biggest change going from the classroom to counseling?

There are two changes that really stand out for me going from classroom to counseling. The not having anyone else on my campus that does what I do.  This is especially difficult, when it is your first year!  I remember my first year teaching, when I didn’t know something, I just went next door J. But now, when I don’t know something, it requires a phone call, email or car drive.  It really did feel like an island at first.  When you are teaching, there is always someone right there to bounce ideas off of, put out fires with,  commiserate with, look at (you know the look – “Oh, my gosh! Are they kidding me right now?!?!”), laugh with. With teaching, you have built in relationships with your class and with your team. You also have built in teacher support on every campus, in the form of administrators and specialists.  With counseling, I have to cultivate that support and sometimes it is not easy to do, when the litany of things that I trying to figure out is ever looming!
That transitions nicely to the second biggest change, going from being very confident in what I am doing, to being reminded EVRYDAY of all I do not know and still need to learn J.
All that being said, I do feel like I have won the 1st year counseling lottery by being on campus with the magical Melanie Acker, not many people get to have an AP that was a former counselor!  Also, my principal and everyone on my campus has been so supportive and welcoming, it has really helped!
2
           What's your favorite activity to do with a student on a first visit?

I love, love, love coloring/ drawing with students.  We can talk and share our drawings and it really helps to facilitate conversations.  It also gives them a chance to know me! 

3     What would be your advice for new counselors?

·         Find your person, both on campus and off.  Someone to talk to, cry with, laugh with and keep you accountable.

·         Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know.

·         Try out as many documentation systems as you need to, to come up with what works for you.

·         FOLLOW THROUGH – no matter what.

·         SAY SORRY – when something comes up and you can’t follow through until laterJ.

·         Don’t be afraid to ask questions – LOTS OF QUESTIONS!

·         Schedule time during your day for programming.

·         Laugh A LOT!

·         If you are not humble already, you will be…and that is ok.

·         Practice empathy – EVERYDAY!

·         I could go on and on, but I leave it at that…for now J


 I love her advice for new counselors. I think it can apply to all of us in education. My favorite piece of advice that I agree with 100% is "If you are not humble already, you will be....and that is ok." I believe this statement to be so true because we make mistakes, we don't know everything, and each day we are learning together. We have to be humble and give grace because heaven knows we will sure need it some days. At least, I sure feel this way!

You can check out Melissa's blog HERE
You can follow her on Instagram: @ferguson451
You can follow her on Twitter: @clsrmcounselor
Follow her on Facebook at:  Classroom to Counseling


Also, you can now follow Megan and I on Twitter for those of you who read Principals with Purpose
@meganandmel
My Instagram & Twitter: @melroseacker
Megan's Instagram & Twitter: @megangist
 

Thank you so much, Melissa, for being on the blog today. I hope you all have a magical day and thanks for stopping by.






Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy 2017

I hope you all had a wonderful 2016! A fresh, new year and a new school year are the two most exciting times for me. I love how it signifies a fresh start and an opportunity to become better or refine what you are rockin'.

When I began this blog back in 2012 (wow 4 years), I was an elementary counselor. My purpose for this blog was to share my journey at a Title 1 school with a diverse population all while throwing in bits of fashion and lessons/ideas. God has taken me on quite a journey in those few years from an elementary counselor to a middle school counselor, from a middle school counselor to a middle school assistant principal...and now back to where my heart is in elementary as an elementary assistant principal. While my topics may have changed, my purpose hasn't and that is to share ideas and resources, collaborate with you all, and have fun.

Thank you to those that are still hangin' in there and for those of you who have recently started following the blog. It has been amazing getting to know some of you (through Instagram and Facebook) and learning from you. I look forward to 2017 and blogging often is a goal of mine.

I am also excited to share with you a new blog by my friend, Melissa Ferguson. It will be up and running soon and I will share the link with you as soon as it's ready. She has a heart for teaching and counseling and I am eager to learn from what she posts. I mean, y'all.....she is the counselor at the school I work at, loves coffee, and loves Gilmore Girls. Enough said...you will love her.


My sweet friend, Megan, and I will still be blogging over at Principals with Purpose 
Also, a big congrats to her. She was just named as the elementary principal at a new school that will open in Fall 2017 in our district. So proud of her! I know she will impact so many in a positive way!
So...what's happening on the blog you ask?

There will be scheduled posts each Thursday here!!! I haven't decided a time but will post them on the Facebook page as soon as I know!

I also have a freebie for you all to kick off  the new year! I typed this up to put in my planner. It sounds cliche but I was jotting down my "why" after watching a video of Jon Gordon speak and I wanted to have it with me. I thought it would be a positive thing to have up in an office, classroom, or planner.
You can download it FREE here.


I received a message a few weeks ago about whether or not I will be doing an Instagram challenge soon. The answer is YES!!! Below are the details. Please feel free to share!

These are always fun and a great way to get to know each other and get a peek into each other's day. If you participate in at least 4 out of the 5 days your name will be put in a drawing. The winner will get a pack of my fav new Sharpie fine point pens in fun colors (pic below) shipped right to their door (thank you, Amazon)! This is not just for counselors, this is for everyone! :)




 Hope you all have a great rest of your break!


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Fall Faves, Must Haves, and a Counseling Craftivity

Hey, y'all. I'm baaaaacccck. I finally feel settled into my new position as an elementary assistant principal (which I absolutely love) and I have some things I am working on that I am really excited about that I will share with you soon! It feels good to feel back into the swing of things and to have the ability to create, blog, and network with all my fellow educator friends!

First up...my Fall Faves. This is one of my favorite seasons. I love feeling cozy, baking with pumpkin and cinnamon, and relaxing with a nice cup of coffee (well, I may do that all year round), and just enjoying the season with my family.

So I have to share my new favorite family picture with you all. It's nothing fancy but I feel like it captures our personalities so well. Joey and Ella are being silly and Grayson and I are just cuddling! Can't wait to get it framed.


Speaking of coffee, one of my current favorite things right now is this coffee (Kauai Coconut Caramel Crunch). Oh.My.Word. It is so good that I have cut down Starbucks from about 4 or 5 times a week to just 2 or 3. I went with my mother in law last weekend to Costco and sampled some and then went back and asked for one more cup...after the 2nd cup I knew I had to have it. I am not a fan of flavored coffee but this was an exception. It is literally the best coffee I have ever had that you make at home. It was around $15 or $16 but seems like it will last a long time. I am the only one at our house that drinks coffee so I will really be able to stretch it out. It came as whole beans but Costco had a coffee bean grinder. It smelled amazing! I brought my Keurig to my office at work and got a new coffee maker at home that takes ground coffee so it worked out perfect!

Mug from The Sister Studio
With fall weather comes some of my favorite wardrobe items like booties, scarves, lightweight kimonos, jackets, and vests. I would love to break out some of my new sweaters but here in Texas it has stayed around the mid to high 80's so I am keeping my fingers crossed I can wear them soon.
When I was looking at pictures of my favorite outfits lately, I noticed a common theme: black and white stripes. I love to stick with classics and add trendy items but giggled when even the clip art version of me had black and white stripes on. I think I love how versatile it can be. You can mix different prints, color, and textures and it can work.
 
Top Left: Utility Jacket and Striped dress (Groovy's), Leopard booties (Larue), Necklace (Kendra Scott) Top Middle: Favorite striped top ever (Groovy's), Necklace (Kendra Scott), Booties (Groovy's) Top Right: Striped dress, choker necklace, booties (Groovy's), Bottom Left: Leopard kimono (Amazon), Striped loose tank (Maurice's), Necklace (Kendra Scott), Moto Jeggings (Groovy's), Wedge Peep Toe Booties (Lucky Brand: Nordstrom), Bottom Right: Educator tee (LaRue), Striped cardigan (Groovy's-a few years ago), Old Navy jeggings, Converse High Top (Nordstrom)

My must have this month are moto jeggings. They are seriously the best invention ever. They are so comfy but you can dress them up with a longer top and jacket for work or wear a cozy shirt and booties for the weekend. I have bought my burgundy (shown above) and olive ones at Groovy's and hope to get some in black soon. And y'all....they are stretchy which are perfect for brunch and Thanksgiving meals..lol.

It also seems that a huge must have item are booties.Side note: everytime we are out shopping and I say booties, my kids can't even handle it...they laugh and just lose it. My favorite ones have been my Lucky ones (in black) I scored at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. The price has went up a bit but they are well worth it. You can find them HERE
 I have my eye on these TOMS booties, as well, and am hoping they might go on sale later since they just came out. They are very different and would look so cute with some rolled up jeans, a tee, and a cozy cardigan.

Each weekend, we have been doing fall activities (painting pumpkins, baking anything and everything pumpkin) and yesterday when my niece came over we decided to make some paper plate pumpkins. When the kids were talking about how their pumpkins looked (angry, mean, scared), I thought "this would be a great counseling craft-ivity" for a guidance or small group lesson." 

You can have students paint a paper plate and then decorate it with a feelings face. We used glitter, scrapbook paper, and other craft items. My kids are 6 and 9 and my niece is 4 so this would be a great K-2 or K-3 activity.
Sad, worried, and angry

To extend, the kids could write their feeling word or could reflect and write about a time they felt that way. There could be a lot of discussion on what different feelings mean and examples of when we have felt those feelings.

If you don't want to deal with the paint mess, you can try using orange paper plates as shown on the Kids Activities Blog seen HERE. I am thinking painting them would be better for a small group activity and using paper plates that were already orange would be better for a guidance setting. This along with their writing would be a great bulletin board, as well. 

You could ALSO  just have students create pumpkins with their own style and discuss the importance of being unique and looking at how special we are and that it's okay to be different. You could even read the book Spookley beforehand. If you don't have the book, you can find the book being read aloud HERE. 

 Do  you have something you would like to see on the blog? Leave a comment below or on the FB post and don't forget you can follow me on Instagram @melroseacker or on Twitter @melroseacker. Hope you all have a magical week! Remember, we have the best job ever...so no matter how crazy or stressful it gets....remember you have the opportunity to change someone's day, week, and even their life!!!



Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Power of Failure

When you think of failure, your proudest moments probably don't come to mind. You think of defeat, despair, and inadequacy. Yet, some of the greatest innovations in time have been the result of failure. How can we use failure as a positive tool that teaches our students resiliency and fuels their curiosity to continue?

As a student, I was never the best. At a lot of things, I was far from the top but there was one thing that kept me going...I wanted to learn and soak up anything and everything that could make me better. and I had to work hard. In our own schools we have students very much like that. We also have students who are highly intelligent and always excel and when they meet failure, they are paralyzed with what to do next. We have students who don't appear to care and are okay with "failing," although we know that is far from how they really feel.

So what can we do as educators (and parents)?  I think there are lots of ways that we can cultivate a growth mindset but there are three things that really stick out to me (at least from my experiences).

1. We have to change how we talk about failure

When I worked as a counselor, I did a lot of academic conferences with kids. In these conferences, we would discuss where they were with their grades and classes and then set goals of where they would like to be. When students used the word "fail" it was heartbreaking as to how defeated they seemed to feel.  Many times, they would say there was no point in trying because they were already failing. We had to change how we talked about failure. It was not a permanent, shameful place to be. It's called being human. Then we talked about how it was a learning experience and not a forever state of being. We have to have conversations about failure. I love the video with the founder of SPANX and how she said every night at dinner, her and her family would discuss something they failed at that day, they laughed about it, and then talked about what they learned from it. Check out the video below!! We have to change the connection that kids make with failure and embarrassment. Many times, that's why kids would give up. They were embarrassed and didn't want to to risk that feeling again through failure.

2. We have to celebrate GROWTH but still have expectations
This is such an important piece. I truly believe growth equals hope. If you don't celebrate the "in between" from where you're struggling and where you hope to be, it can be a long, unrealistic road. If you have a student making a 63 (even though it's not passing) but they went up from a 52, CELEBRATE. Obviously they are doing something to head in the right direction and we have to encourage whatever they are doing to make progress. It's important to balance celebrating progress yet still having high expectations. We want to encourage their success along the way but still have high hopes of where they are going!


3. Reflect and Support

The thing about failure is there is always something to be learned. If we want to create the connection between failure and learning, we have to make sure kids are reflecting on what exactly it is they learned from the experience. I believe that having meaningful reflection is the biggest piece in creating this growth mindset in our kids. When they experience failure and are reflecting on the why (why did it go that way) and the how (what can they do different next time), that is when the most exciting ideas and meaning come about. That's also the time when it's important to provide support. As educators we have to let them know it's normal to fail at things and the exciting thing is that there are many more chances, and we are right there to support them.


With education focusing on innovation, student choice, growth mindsets, technology, and things like maker spaces we have to change how we view, discuss, and confront failure. Our kids have to realize that they are so much more than a number, a grade, or an embarrassing moment...they can turn those moments into moments of great ideas, inspiration, and success.



-Melanie


The Power of Failure

When you think of failure, your proudest moments probably don't come to mind. You think of defeat, despair, and inadequacy. Yet, some of the greatest innovations in time have been the result of failure. How can we use failure as a positive tool that teaches our students resiliency and fuels their curiosity to continue?

As a student, I was never the best. At a lot of things, I was far from the top but there was one thing that kept me going...I wanted to learn and soak up anything and everything that could make me better. I was not one that was super smart and everything came easy, I had to work hard. In our own schools we have students very much like that. We also have students who are highly intelligent and always excel and when they meet failure, they are paralyzed with what to do next. We have students who don't appear to care and are okay with "failing," although we know that is far from how they really feel.

So what can we do as educators (and parents)?  I think there are lots of ways that we can cultivate a growth mindset but there are three things that really stick out to me (at least from my experiences).

1. We have to change how we talk about failure

When I worked as a counselor, I did a lot of academic conferences with kids. In these conferences, we would discuss where they were with their grades and classes and then set goals of where they would like to be. When students used the word "fail" it was heartbreaking as to how defeated they seemed to feel.  Many times, they would say there was no point in trying because they were already failing. We had to change how we talked about failure. It was not a permanent, shameful place to be. It's called being human. Then we talked about how it was a learning experience and not a forever state of being. We have to have conversations about failure. I love the video with the founder of SPANX and how she said every night at dinner, her and her family would discuss something they failed at that day, they laughed about it, and then talked about what they learned from it. Check out the video below!! We have to change the connection that kids make with failure and embarrassment. Many times, that's why kids would give up. They were embarrassed and didn't want to to risk that feeling again through failure.

2. We have to celebrate GROWTH but still have expectations
This is such an important piece. I truly believe growth equals hope. If you don't celebrate the "in between" from where you're struggling and where you hope to be, it can be a long, unrealistic road. If you have a student making a 63 (even though it's not passing) but they went up from a 52, CELEBRATE. Obviously they are doing something to head in the right direction and we have to encourage whatever they are doing to make progress. It's important to balance celebrating progress yet still having high expectations. We want to encourage their success along the way but still have high hopes of where they are going!


3. Reflect and Support

The thing about failure is there is always something to be learned. If we want to create the connection between failure and learning, we have to make sure kids are reflecting on what exactly it is they learned from the experience. I believe that having meaningful reflection is the biggest piece in creating this growth mindset in our kids. When they experience failure and are reflecting on the why (why did it go that way) and the how (what can they do different next time), that is when the most exciting ideas and meaning come about. That's also the time when it's important to provide support. As educators we have to let them know it's normal to fail at things and the exciting thing is that there are many more chances, and we are right there to support them.


With education focusing on innovation, student choice, growth mindsets, technology, and things like maker spaces we have to change how we view, discuss, and confront failure. Our kids have to realize that they are so much more than a number, a grade, or an embarrassing moment...they can turn those moments into moments of great ideas, inspiration, and success.



-Melanie


Thursday, April 14, 2016

How to Document Students Using Google

Last week, I posted a link to the other blog I have been at lately (I am co-blogging with my principal Megan at Principals with Purpose) and we received a lot of questions on how to create a Google form. Below is a step by step video that will hopefully be useful so that you can create your own. If you missed the last blog post, you can check it out HERE.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

April Favorites and a FREEBIE!

Hey, friends! It is spring and that means it is one of the busiest times of the year. This is my probbaly my favorite time because the weather is beautiful and we get to celebrate success and accomplishments as the year comes to a close.

I hope that you take time from your busy day to reflect on your goals and all that you have accomplished. Sometimes when you're caught up in everything it's hard to see all of the awesome things you did. So, celebrate you!!!! And remember at this time of the year, to just breathe.....

 I wanted to share some of my April favorites with you all! Below you can find a YouTube video! Last time I said plenty of "ummmms" so I thought I wouldn't bore you and said plenty of "sooo's." Ha. I can't even. I get so excited and just don't stick to what I ever plan on saying!
I also wanted to tell you all about one of our teacher's new Teachers Pay Teachers store. Her name is Megan Patterson and she is too adorable. She teaches Special Education and she is rockin' it creating activities. Show her some love and go check out her page! Below is a link to her TPT store and an idea of the products she is currently selling!

The Tangled Texas Teacher: Click HERE


Last, I have a peek of my next unit coming out. With all of the Star Wars hype, I have a Space Wars theme that will be posted on TPT in the next few weeks, but for today...I have a FREEBIE for you! This would be great to use in a kindness lesson or to hang in a classroom, office, or hallway. You can download your freebie HERE!

Have a great week, friends!