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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Suicide Prevention and where it starts....

A topic that has been on my mind lately is suicide prevention. Being in a middle school and in a district where two teens committed suicide last year, this subject weighs heavy on my heart. As a counselor, past teacher, and mom....it breaks my heart. Each day I meet with such wonderful kiddos who I am constantly amazed with. I ask myself the same question...how are some so resilient and others so fragile. Of course, life throws us fastballs and things aren't always fair but this stirs me to think of how we, as counselors and educators, can help kids realize just how amazing they are and what a bright future they have.

There are two areas we can target: Internet Safety and Self Esteem. I know both can start as early as Kindergarten and should be implemented and show up all year long.

I searched some of our fellow bloggers great ideas and found some amazing lessons:

 Self Esteem:

I loved this activity I saw over at Scrapbook of a School Counselor:

This is a super creative activity where kids would have a keepsake. This is from the School Counselor Blog:

I know there are so many more great ideas out there but I think the key to suicide prevention is building self esteem as young as possible while also focusing on resiliency. The second area is internet safety since most bullying takes place on social media. Most reports I hear of bullying or as the cause of depression are linked to online harassment.

When I was an elementary counselor, I loved the resource our district provided us. It was called NetSmartz.You can find information here. The kids loved it and I feel like they really understood the concept.
Here is a clip of it. It is available in Spanish, too!! The  website has so many resources for parents and educators. The super cool part is that it has videos for Tweens and Teens, too. This may be hands down one of my favorite resources!!!

I feel that with a combination of these two topics that we can really educate our students and it may help to prevent some of the other stuff. I know suicide will still happen but I think as counselors we need to at least do everything we possibly can to stop it!!!

If you haven't liked my facebook page, check out the Stylish School Counselor on facebook where I post resources, articles, and answer any questions new or existing counselors have!!

Have a great week!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Music in Counseling: Part Two and a Whole Bunch More!

Hey y'all! I am so happy to have a chance to sit and blog! I have had sooo much to say and write about.

I would love to start with using music in counseling. I love music....all kinds of music!!! Music is amazing because a song can bring so much emotion and strike up so many memories...good and bad. I love using music in small groups for self esteem and friendship groups. The possibilities are endless!! When I am using songs, I try to use popular songs that the kids can relate to. Some of the songs that I have used and plan to use are:

1. Taylor Swift: Mean (Friendship Groups/Bullying)
2. Katy Perry: Firework (Focus: Celebrating Differences)
3. Demi Lovato: Skyscraper (Bullying/Friendship/Self Esteem)
4. Katy Perry: Roar (Celebrating Differences/Self Esteem/Bullying)
5. Sara Bareilles: Brave (Social Skills/Self Esteem)

Here are a couple of the videos and I always listen to the song first to make sure it is appropriate and if there is a part that is not, I mark the minutes of where to stop ahead.

The possibilities are endless with ways to use songs and they can cover so many topics. I usually have students listen to a song and we might do an activity to discuss the words in the song and how it applies to their life. A group that I had in the past decorated journals and we would listen to a song each week or every other week and they would write about a time that they felt how the song explained and would share with the group.

Speaking of decorating journals, I wanted to somehow incorporate my Bully Police (which you can read about here) but in middle school.  I am starting out small and just seeing how it will go. Basically, I had a group of students who are super sweet kiddos who would often visit to report bullying or not so good character. So I asked them to be like secret agents and meet with me three times a week (for about 10 minutes) or as needed to report any bullying or situations that concerned them. They have been AWESOME!! I may expand the group but I think keeping it small works best to protect their identity. The other day, they enjoyed a couple of minutes decorating their bully reporting journals. And let me add....glitter makes everything better!

It's also Bullying Prevention Month and I wanted to share a super cool resource that I found the other day!
This is a link for students to sign a digital petition to put a stop to bullying. It has free resources for both elementary and middle school.

This site derives from the above Pacer site that is targeted for teens and provides resources, stories, poems, and videos from teens who are being bullied or have been bullied and how they overcame it. Great, FREE resource!!!

Have you ever had an activity that you did that was so simple yet SO powerful? When I don't have tons of time to prep or if I am meeting with a student for the first time and they aren't so chatty, I always do this activity. They can draw or write: their family, favorite food, hobby, goal, something that scares them, and something that makes them happy. I jot this down on a paper I fold to where there are six boxes.

I know it's not cute or anything but I would say 75% of the time, I get SO much information and the discussion takes off just from these simple little things. I did this with a middle schooler but my elementary kiddos usually enjoyed drawing the pictures! Please share and comment any of your simple yet effective things you do!!!

Last week, I had a reader message me on facebook about my name  the Stylish School Counselor. She asked if since my name has "stylish" in it, could I post some of my outfits on my facebook page? Well, I don't always feel so stylish but I try to dress comfy and cute on a budget! I got the name for the blog because I had someone at my last job always say I look stylish and I like to create cutesy things so I thought it would be a cute name. If you see me at home as I type this in my very worn pink striped pajama pants and lime green church t-shirt, you would think I am VERY far from stylish but I do think it would be fun to post some outfits when I don't look crazy or have food stains on my clothes...haha! So feel free to follow me on instagram @melroseacker!  Here is a glimpse of what I wore Wednesday.

Speaking of clothes and accessories...I am crossing my fingers my hubby will let me order these adorable rain boots I have been lovin'. Here in Texas it has been a bit rainy and fall has finally made it's arrival! How stinkin' perfect would these be in my closet...and maybe yours?

Hunter Tall Gloss Rain Boots

Hunter 'Original Tall' Gloss Rain Boot (Women)
I am about to cuddle up with a cup of hot green tea and catch up on all my favorite counseling blogs!! Hope you all have a great week!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Day in My Life....

So I saw Tabitha at Scrapbook of a School Counselor and Danielle at School Counselor Blog do posts on "A Day In My Life" and I loved it so I thought I would do one today!!

1. CAFFEINE!!! I swear that Starbucks gives me super human powers. You give me a venti iced coffee with fat free milk and 3 splendas and I will do wonders. I work three times faster than normal. Haha...funny but true. I am trying so hard to cut out soda because it kills my stomach but you can see this was a day I needed a lot of caffeine hence the diet coke!!

2. I was planning for Red Ribbon Week and I absolutely love looking through the Positive Promotions catalogs. Have any of you seen the INOK (It's Not Okay)??? It is a program that builds respect among campuses. I love it all and I feel like it works so well for middle and high school. If you haven't seen it, check it out here!!!

3.I have also been planning a lot of parent meetings and 504 meetings. I feel like I have had so many meetings but I have enjoyed getting to know the families at our school, it offers so much insight and I love the relationship building aspect of our jobs as school counselors!!

4. Here is me in the morning...again....getting hyped up on caffeine. But, really....I am thinking of how blessed I am to be a school counselor!!!

I also wanted to chat a bit about my daily routine. One thing that is HUGE to me is trying to answer all emails and phone calls as soon as possible. I hear parents make comments all the time about how frustrated they get when they call the school and don't get a call back! I can understand as a parent how stinkin' tough that is! So I make sure to call and respond within 24 hours of receiving their call or email. So usually, I take care of this first thing in the morning. After that, I see students and of course take care of any situations that arise throughout the day. I also plan meetings, do classroom observations, and hope to start some groups within the next week. I have seen a big need for a social group and new student group.

As I said before, I feel like I am still finding my way and learning a lot but I am thankful for every minute!! I am putting the finishing touches on my TPT Fall Into Character Unit and hope to post it this weekend along with some freebies!!!

I hope you have a great week and have a Fabulous Friday!!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Finding My Way

If you met me in person you would probably never guess that I was a middle school counselor. Maybe a Kindergarten teacher or elementary counselor but not middle school. My voice, my personality, and everything about me screams I love arts and craft, the smell of crayons and glue sticks, and saying things are "special!" Haha...funny but true. But can I say that I SO love middle school!!! I do miss elementary at times but I am enjoying middle school way more than I thought! I mean talking to these kiddos is amazing because it's on a whole new level and having conversations about their academic future is just so stinkin' cool!!! So I would have to say that I am finding my way. I have so very much to learn this year and I am going with it and just hittin' the ground running the best I can all while taking notes for next year of how I can make things better!

In the first 3 weeks of school we have already celebrated College Week and we had a blast! Here's a couple of things I planned for college week!!!

1. The Ever So Classic Door Decorating Contest
 Last year at my elementary school, my principal let me give the winner of the door decorating contest an opportunity to order items for their classroom. My new principal was awesome enough to do the same! Here are some pictures of some of the doors! The teachers did a great job and got creative!! I love how they let the kids do it and be involved. The winning class will get a donut party!!!

2. Guess that Grad Display
I thought it would be fun to get teachers to send in college pics and display them for the students to try to guess who they are. The staff seemed to enjoy this too!
3. College Signing
I also made poster sized sheets with college names for students to sign their intent during lunches and passing periods. They signed what school they hoped to attend in the future!

4. College Trivia Announcements
This was probably my favorite activity. Each day on announcements I would feature a "secret college." I would say what the mascot was, how far in terms of driving it was from our campus, what city it was in, and about 3 to 4 fun, interesting facts. The students could then come between classes or after school to drop off their guess and I drew a name and if it had the correct guess, they won a college themed goodie bag with pencils, stickers, etc. I was surprised by how many kids participated and I loved seeing them excited about trying to guess. I even had some students stop by to ask me about the colleges I featured!!
Of course we also sent out activities for teachers to do in the classrooms and had themed days to dress up. Examples are:
*College shirts
*College colors
*High school shirts to the high school we feed into
*I tried to tie in being college and career ready: dress as the profession you want to be
One of our cute little teachers sportin' her scrubs!
It was fun and there are things I will use again and do different next year but overall it was a lot of fun. If the students were even somewhat engaged or thinking about their future....that is what matters to me!!!

I also wanted to show you a super easy bulletin board that was inspired by Danielle's over at School Counselor Blog. Her version is much fancier than mine because I was super short on time but I loved the idea of it and hopefully next year I can make one more like hers!

I saw Danielle's idea and just tweaked it to fit my 10 minutes that I had to create on my computer!

I also am excited because I am working on a teachers pay teachers unit that will have printable games, bulletin board displays/starters and much more that is all Fall themed. I am hoping to have it up by next week and of course I will also post plenty of freebies!!!

We have been busy packing up our house so I feel like I have been missing. I have loved reading up on fellow counselor blogs and getting new ideas!!! It is such a blessing being part of such a neat, supportive community of counseling bloggers!! I think it has truly saved me the past two years with job changes and adapting....and also reader comments....so THANK YOU!!!

I had a great weekend celebrating our son's 6th birthday!! I can't believe how big he is! My hubby and I could not be prouder of the little guy he has become!

I hope you all have a great week full of new learning experiences! Please remember YOU make a difference on your campus!!!!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Marketing our job...

Hey, y'all!! I have been so super busy as I am sure all of you have but I finally had a little time to relax and blog...which I love to do because it makes me feel like we are all just havin' a little chat!! I have a hodge podge of things to talk about today so bear with me....you may see some ADHD tendencies goin' on!

As counselors...of course, we love counseling but there are so many other aspects of our job as school counselors. I think we have to be the biggest advocate for school counselors by our actions, words, and attitude. The past two weeks, I have witnessed great speeches and great staff developments. I have been blessed in every district I have ever been in and this new one is no different. In convocation, we heard from Dr. John Draper and he said we have to market our district, school, and profession. When we make comments about how we don't like doing this part of our job but we love doing this part...we really aren't marketing our job as counselors. Now, are there things I don't prefer as much as other things?? Yes... but I know that BOTH parts make up my job! In schools, we can't just show that we are counselors who provide guidance, individual and group counseling but we have to show that, yes, we do schedules and support teachers and meet with parents and do LOTS of paperwork!! It shows accountability for us! I try to be positive and save any "venting" for a close friend or my husband because I want to advertise my profession and show the people in my school that I keep going and I am there to support our students and staff every day with a smile!! !

Sorry, y'all! I was just feeling so passionate about that today because I think sometimes we do a disservice to ourselves when we have a negative attitude. There are already sooo many people who don't understand the importance of school counselors and I want to show them we are the heartbeat of the school!!

So...I have been missing lately because I have been doing schedules which has made me realize how stinkin' important us counselors are at the beginning of the year (see that advertising)??? Haha!

We also went to Meet the Teacher night for our first, sweet baby who is going to Kindergarten. Oh my word, Monday will be super tough....I better wear water proof mascara!
We couldn't ask for more amazing teachers for our sweet boy!! He absolutely loved visiting the school!! My hubby works there so he will love having Daddy as his PE teacher. And look how cute the bulletin board is.....isn't this wire like ribbon fabulous border??? It would look darling on some counseling bulletin boards!!!

Now on to counseling!!!! I attended an absolutely fabulous counseling staff development and can I say that our district Guidance Director is amazing!!??? Ms. West is so stinkin' cute and shared with us such a neat intro activity. First, she showed us this video clip from the movie " How Do You Know"? (After seeing the clip, I rented the movie and it was pretty cute).
Pretty sweet? Huh? Then Ms. West gave us all a small play dough container with the quote: ""We're all just one small adjustment away from making our lives work." She said she had used this in a training with other staff members and had them take the playdough and create something and pass it around the table with each person making a small adjustment and it was really cool to see the outcome. She related this to, us counselors, as an example of also being flexible in our jobs. Do things get stressful? Yes! Are things in education always changing? Yes! But instead of being negative and complaining, we can be flexible and ever changing like playdough to adapt to our situations and environment which can make it all work!! I loved this activity, example, and movie quote so much....I created a little sign that I plan to hang in my office...so on those tough days, I can take a gander at it and remember that!!!
You can a free printable of this: HERE

This got me thinking about play dough and all the great uses in counseling. I especially thought about doing a similar activity in possibly a self esteem small group and having students describe how they feel about themselves and what they would want to change, what they can and can't change and possibly creating something with the play dough (maybe how they think they look, how they think others thing they look, etc). I hope to create a Small Group Counseling activity book in my TPT store pretty soon, so be on the lookout for that!!!

I also wanted to share an exciting Dollar Tree find!! I tried one of these wall stick ons and they had a lot of good counseling-type quotes there. I picked this one out to see how it would work and it was easy to put up and you can't beat a $1!!! I added it to my Believe. Dream. Achieve printables which you can also find HERE for free!!!

In other news...we are just waiting to see if the contract and everything else will go through on our current house and then we will start building!! We are just praying and seeing what happens. But here is a picture of where we will start  building if everything works out!!

Our students start tomorrow so I have enjoyed this last weekend before school REALLY starts with a wild manicure, shopping with my sweet family, and prepping for our sweet boy's first day of Kindergarten!!

I hope you all have a great start to your year! Please know that you are such an integral part of your campus and to "advertise" yourself and profession!!!! Keep a positive attitude and be flexible!!! I know I will keep that in mind this year!!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Counselor Blog Hoppin' and Tons of FREEBIES!!!!

Wow, y'all! I can't believe the start of school is just around the corner! Aaahhhh!! Not only am I excited to greet the kiddos at my new school but our oldest is starting Kindergarten (giant tear) but exciting all rolled into one! Where did time go??

What I have to share today sure cheers me up, though!!! The Helpful Counselor has organized an Ah-mazing Blog Hop with some pretty awesome fellow counselors!!!

Check out these incredible counseling pages!!!

Blog Hop Participants:
Colleen - One Stop Counseling Shop

There will also be links to their TPT stores where you can purchase some pretty neat things they have created but also download TONS of FREEBIES (over 54 to be exact)!!!! So check out their pages and find links to their TPT stores there!!

Here is mine: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Stylish-School-Counselor 

Here are some samples of things you can purchase or grab for FREE!!!!




Happy shopping and I am sure you will find some goodies from all of these amazing counselors!!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Relaxation, Organization, and Games....say what?

Hey y'all! I have missed you so much!! I have so been neglecting my blog! I have been busy starting my new position and prepping for the year. I hope you all are having time to get ready while finding time to still relax. Relaxation is SOOO important even if it means grabbing Starbucks and getting a pedi/mani. I know that and shopping are my ways to relax! : )
I know many readers on here are super busy and have a lot going on outside of counseling, so that is why it is super important to make sure you get your YOU time in. It seems that counselors are the worse about this (even though we know how important it is) because we juggle so many things at work and many times juggle so many things at home (family, outside activities, keeping up the house, Pinterest). I found this quote online and created a little picture below...this quote is so stinkin' true!
This quote is so true. I think about this in regards to being a counselor and a wife and mom. If I don't take rest, how will I be effective to my students and give them my all while I am at work?? If I don't take rest, how will I have the energy and calm mind set to play outside with my kids or spend time with my husband? I thought it was a quote worth sharing!

So I experienced my first day in my new district and by.golly do I love it!!

me trying to be cool and not sure why I wore a cardigan in 100 degree Texas weather...haha

I have my office, for the most part, complete. I have some things to hang and I would love a shelf to store games and activities. I think it's pretty cozy but it feels so empty. After being in elementary for so long, I am used to having tons of stuff everywhere!!

I can't wait to hang my dream.believe.achieve signs somewhere on the wall in a cluster. I want all my kiddos to see them because I want them to have big dreams, believe they can accomplish them, and achieve it!!!

You can get your own copy of these signs for FREE, here: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Inspirational-Posters-Set-of-3-783919
I just purchased some cheap $3 frames to put them in! 

And if you haven't downloaded this for your office, here is the link for FREE counseling signs. They are great for testing and to let people know when you're in a session so they won't interrupt.

You can get them here: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Freebie-Signs-801442

I have been posting on facebook how I would try to blog about organization. I think it will be in small parts because there are so many things to cover. Today, I will start with the basic thing that I can't.live.without.....and that would be my calendars. I have blogged about my love for Erin Condren calendars which you can still order here: http://www.erincondren.com/store/
I use this mostly for personal/family stuff like appointments, birthdays, and reminders but if I have a big meeting or something important at work I record it here so if I am trying to make an appointment for my kids I will know what day not to do it.

At work, I created a binder using my calendar in my TPT store which you can find here: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/2013-2014-Calendar-717126

I created a cover and I put all of the important notes/reference pages that I know I will use often in the front pocket.

This is my absolute.must.have item!!! I record any meetings, appointments, staff development, special days (Red Ribbon Week, Education Week, etc) here! I love technology but I am the type of person that has to write it all down. So basically this little binder is my BFF!
I feel that forgetting a meeting or important date is a horrible feeling! So this is my first key to organization, this is also where I map things out in guidance or small group.

Another way I keep myself together is with binders. I am not a file folder kinda gal. I like having everything clear to see and a place to go.
I like having everything hole punched and behind labeled dividers so if I am looking for something I can flip to it, copy it, and put it right back. That's just me and maybe I am weird. Well, probably...haha.

The next thing and I promise last thing I wanted to highlight are the use of games in counseling sessions. I am a big believer of play therapy and I think kids express the most through play. Below are some games I have used and have heard of people using. I am sure the possibilities are endless with how you use them. I will try to link up where you can purchase them.
This game is Bullies, Victims, and ByStanders. I used this game A WHOLE LOT last year. The kids loved it and it had really good scenarios. I used it a lot in my Friendship group and it was great to hear the conversations that would come up just from reading the cards. 

I have seen some counselors even tape scenarios to the jenga blocks in group and I have also seen this in team building activities. http://www.amazon.com/Hasbro-A2120-Jenga-Classic-Refresh/dp/B00ABA0ZOA/ref=sr_1_1?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1375813483&sr=1-1&keywords=jenga+game 

Buddy Talk

How cool is this? I found this on an AMAZING site called Child Therapy Toys....I am so starting a wish list tonight!!! This would be great as an introductory activity for a group or for a social skills group. 

I know there are plenty more and I would love any comments about games you use and how you use them!!!

I also wanted to show you a new pack I created. It is great for starting up your counseling office if you're new or starting fresh. 

This pack includes the August through June calendar, a check in scale, small group rules (which I always have posted), Rules of Confidentiality (I always have posted, too), to do list, counseling log, and a little activity!

If you have started this school year already, I hope you are having a fabulous start and if you haven't started yet, I wish you the best!!! Don't forget to RELAX!!! : )