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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!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

For the Love of Spring....




I am on spring break this week and I am loving it. Spring and Summer are probably my favorite seasons. I love the bright colors, fun patterns, being outside with my family, iced coffee, and eating light!

Today I wanted to share some of my favorite spring items with you!! Some of these I own and some I hope to own soon!


1. Lily Pulitzer Inspired Monograms on EVERYTHING!

I heart Lily Pulitzer items for the spring and summer. It is so preppy, classic, and girly! I also have a heart for monograms, so mixing the two together equals pure joy. I just ordered this style monogram to put on my solid color phone case and one for my laptop cover. I got it from Sweetpeavinylshop on Etsy. It's a fun, cheap way to personalize items for the season. They were only $3 or $4 each!

This is the style I ordered. I kind of want to order them for daughter's things too!!!
2. Nude Color Wedges
I am still on the hunt for the right pair. I own two pairs but I need a good "meet in the middle" wedge height. I want something that isn't too tall but not too short and comfort is key. If y'all know of any, please let me know. Nude wedges can be dressed up or worn with distressed jeans. They are great for work or the weekends. Below are some I have my eyes on....
BP Wedges at Nordstrom
Steve Madden

3. Bright Accesories
I love wearing fun, bright jewelry during the spring! I love this tassel necklace. The one I got is white beads with a turquoise tassel. I purchased mine in downtown McKinney this past weekend at a little shop but this one is from Monday Dress which is one of my new fav shops!
I also love tassel earrings! They are so feminine and fun. I have ivory ones from Southern Roots last year that I love but I am dying for a pretty pastel color like the ones below (also form Monday Dress).
4. Monogrammed Purse

Y'all, I am kind of in love with this purse but of course it's currently sold out. It is a nice, clean and simple tote that is perfect for this season. It is from Marley Lily and if you're interested you can go to their site and click this product and enter your email and they will notify you when it's available. The best part? It's only $59.99 INCLUDING the monogram. I.can't.even.
I used to buy expensive purses but now I love having personalized bags that are a little easier on the wallet! Last year, I purchased one similar to this (I did ivory monogramming) and still love it!
5. Cute Little Girl Outfits
Dressing my son couldn't be easier. I throw some Under Armour or plaid shirts and shorts and he is set and pretty adorable. But y'all, girl's outfits in the spring and summer...oh my word!

We just found out Ella will be a Brand Rep for Paisley Punkins.....and we couldn't be more excited. Their outfits are ADORABLE and at a great price (all under $30 for an outfit). You can check out the great deals by following the shop on Instagram (paisleypunkins), Twitter (@paisleypunkins), and liking it on Facebook (PaisleyPunkins). Below are some of the items I am swooning over. I couldn't love ruffles and floral prints more! Ella and I are both in love with the pink ruffle cardigan!!! I love dressing Ella like a little girl because we are in no rush to grow up!!

The clothes are definitely sweet yet fun! If you have a little girl you shop for, following this store is a MUST!






If you are on Spring Break, I hope you have a wonderful one! We have had a rainy one but are making plenty of memories. I have a FREEBIE this week and I am wanting to see the interest level on releasing the 2016-2017 Office Pack early?? Let me know and have a fabulous rest of the week, friends!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

EdCamps, A New Blog, and MY NEW FAV COUNSELING RESOURCE!!!!!

Good evening, y'all! I hope you are all having a great weekend! I am sure you are all super busy with high school planning, testing, and transitions starting to fire up!!!

A few weeks ago, I posted a picture of my fun day at an Ed Camp! It was my 3rd Ed Camp to attend and I had some messages and a comment asking what they are!! So, today I wanted to share what an Ed Camp is and how you can use it with other counselors, educators, staff members, and even students!!!!

What is an Ed Camp???

Below is a great definition.
Basically, its an informal conference. Attendees show up and by the use of sticky notes or a Google Doc list topics that they would either like to learn about or facilitate. Those organizing the Ed Camp combine the topics based on interest (there may be multiples) and then assign them to a room for all of the sessions.

What is really cool about it is that it is NOT a "sit and get." Everyone can interact and ask questions. If you don't like the session, it' more than okay to walk out and go to a different one. It is very laid back and interactive.

As I said, this is my 3rd one. You get out of it what you put in.

Below are some ideas of ways to use Ed Camps:

  • Counselor Specific Ed Camps-this would be a great way to share resources, trade ideas, and grow your PLN
  • Campus Ed Camps-teachers could come with areas they need support or things they want to learn more about. As a teacher I would love this because I would feel like I could choose what I go to AND I can get what I need from staff development
  • Student Ed Camps-you could have a social/emotional Ed Camp where students could learn about relaxation tips, anger management, and self esteem, (if those are the areas they are interested in). You could give a topic and they could create the sessions! 

I will be at a conference this week in Orlando and I hope to participate in an Ed Camp there!!


Another thing I wanted to share with you all is a new blog me and my principal/mentor/friend created! It is called Principals with Purpose. We wanted to start it because we both share the same educational beliefs and wanted a way to continue to collaborate with each other because we know we won't always be able to be at the same campus. There is some good stuff, y'all! She is awesome and I learn so much each day from her.  You can check it out HERE.

Last, I want to share a really neat resource with you. Many of you have probably heard of Go Noodle! It is a free website that has indoor recess ideas, brain breaks, and music for kids. Yesterday afternoon, I was relaxing with my 8 year old and he said we should do relaxation. I was trying not to laugh but then he brought up Go Noodle. From the main page (you will need to create a free account), you click CHANNELS. From there, click FLOW.  There are tons of neat, calming videos. I was thinking of when I was an elementary counselor, how perfect these would be for my "friends" that had cool off time with me. They are the perfect amount of time and there is even a voice that guides them through!!!
Here is an example of one called Think About It. It is for when students have hurt feelings.
See it HERE or below
Y'all if I was still a counselor this would be one of my NEW FAVORITE resources!!! Love that my own kids think it's so neat and that it is FREE!!!!!!

Next on the blog, I have a OOTD (Outfit of the Day) post and my 5 favorite items of the month!!! Make it a great week....you are AMAZING!