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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Counselor Q&A: Part Two and a Freebie!!!

Hey, friends! Hope you are soaking up every bit of summer. I go back Friday...yes...this week. It's always bittersweet! I love being with my family but I also love being there for my students!

Today, I am finishing up my Q&A from sweet counselors that emailed or messaged questions. If you didn't see the first one, you can check it out HERE! So here we go, Round 2!!!

I will be a first year counselor, what do you think is the hardest thing about being a counselor?

In terms of being hard, that could fall into a number of areas. For me, understanding how much of a multi-tasker you need to be was tough to figure out. Counselors do a lot on campus (which can be an amazing thing so that we have accountability). I think just getting down your system as in how do you handle 504, crisis, staff support, admin support, parent meetings, planning activities, possibly testing or scheduling depending on the grade level. Once you know what to expect and can fit it into your system, it all kind of falls into place. I won't lie, I just finished my first year at a new campus/grade level and I am still learning.  Another hard thing about being a counselor is the emotional attachment. I am a mom and I meet with kids and want to save them all. Learning when it's beyond what you can do and that your hands are tied is the hardest thing EVER. Those were the hardest things for me but at the same time, I wouldn't give it up for anything.

I am currently an intern in an elementary school. What are some ideas of things to do with kids who may not want to talk or just sit there?

Haha...I wish there was a magic activity or one liner I could give ya' but honestly it is all about making the kiddo feel comfortable. I never want them to feel forced to talk to me. I want them to know I am here for them and that I won't "make" them tell me something unless of course they are being hurt, are hurting someone else, or wants to hurt theirself. Now I will say with some of my Kindergarteners and Firsties at my old school...puppets or stuffed animals always worked well. Some of them would just need to pick one up to hold to feel safe before they start chatting. I would always have a basket of them near where kids sat. Also, good ol' fashioned paper and crayons can sometimes tell you so much. They tend to open up more and feel like they have something distracting them. You can even sometimes get some intense things from what they draw. But I would say creating a warm, welcoming environment and being very visible to kids so you don't seem like a stranger are the best things to do.

I have seen you post about planners, which one do you recommend? 

Well, I must start by saying I kinda love planners and notebooks....just a lil' bit.

 It really depends on what you're looking for and are needing. Some people need a daily page for appointments or need super large boxes for their month at a glance. I researched planners a lot and also have used a variety!!! 

The ones I would recommend are below:

Erin Condren
I have gotten Erin Condren planners for the past 3 years and have loved them. The only setback for me was needing more room for the monthly at a glance. Other than that, I love them!!!! It also has stickers for appointments, parties, etc. I will so miss that now!!! 
Price Range: $65-75

 Kate Spade

I am trying this one out this year and I won't lie...I got it because it is so stinkin' cute and I heart Kate Spade. It seems clean and together. My only concern is that the monthly calendar boxes are too small for my bubbly handwriting. Now, I will say that a week after my co counselor and I purchased ours, Swoozie's got a new shipment of larger ones. Bummer!!! If I would have known about that, I would have waited for the bigger one. But so far this one seems really nice.
Price Range: $36-48

Emily Ley
My sister in law has one of these and loves it. This one seems like it has more room for you to write daily/hourly. It looks amazing and she swears by it. She needs the daily page and I focus more on the monthly. So for her, it works great and for me, I needed something with more room to write in for months.
Price Range: $65-75

Let me also say that $10 planners from Target can be equally amazing. It just depends on what you need and are wanting. 

Well, before I leave...let me leave you with a Freebie!!! 
How cute would this be on your door or enlarged for a bulletin board or in the hallway??
Gets yours for FREE, HERE

I hope you all have a great week! Please feel free to email or message me with any questions or ideas for posts. Hearing from y'all makes blogging 10x more fun!!! 


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Trendy Thursday: Counselor Style

Hey yall! With school starting back soon, I am sure we are all thinking about back to school activities and what to wear!!! Haha! I am sharing with you today a post from my personal blog. I thought it would be perfect to share here, as well. I will be posting my 2nd Question and Answer series this weekend along with a freebie. And if you missed my last post, you can now get your own 2014-15 Office Starter pack!! I just printed mine and started putting it in my office. Pics will follow! I go back to work next week so I hope to post more once I am in action.
You can get your own HERE! Hope you enjoy! 

So this past Tuesday, Lauren and I headed out to Uptown for my sweet mother in law's (her mom) birthday!! We had so much fun! Of course we ate at Breadwinner's, rode the trolley on McKinney Avenue, got energized at Starbucks and then made a visit to West Village to the Kendra Scott store.

Let me just say....the sales gals probably thought we were crazy ladies!! We were so stinkin' excited and overwhelmed! I had never been to an actual Kendra Scott store. I had only looked at her stuff at Nordstrom's.  Can I just say that I am officially in love and I think that birthday/holiday shopping just got easier for Joey because there were so many pieces that I loved!!! So today I am going to share my purchase and my wish list!

Here we are basking in the cuteness of Kendra Scott
I was really impressed with all that they had in store. They had so many colors, shapes, and varieties of everything. I was SO in love with their earrings but I can't wear very heavy earrings at all. I have said this before but my heart is broken over the fact that I can't wear all her cute earrings BUT I did find one pair that wasn't too heavy!
These were the only ones that didn't hurt my ears....I loved them but want to get a bright color

I am thinking these!!! These are the Jane drop earrings in Magenta, I had them on in white.

I also found a lot of necklaces that I absolutely loved!!!
Loved this pink one and it's only $65

I loved the clear Rayne tassel necklace. It could go with so much!

This was hard to see but it was like the pink one above but in white
I love the way this person layered these two. Lauren got one of these in a different color and I am loving it, too!
So what did I come home with??? Well, I would have came home with more BUT I wanted to see if I could get any of it at Nordstrom so that I could use my Nordstrom card to get points. Luckily, Nordstrom has the necklace I want there so I can buy that and rack up those points. I did however get something that you can only get at free standing Kendra Scott stores. I got a ring from the Color Bar. It was so fun creating it and they put it together right then and there for you to take home. No waiting...which is great because I stink at waiting for things I am excited about!!!

I wanted to make something that could go with a lot of things so I went with pearls and clear stones. I was so tempted to make a fun, bright one but...again...I wanted something that I could wear with a lot of stuff. You can also choose if you want your setting to be gold or silver. I got silver because the girl helping me said it is not as noticeable and could go with everything!! The necklace and earrings I get will be bright so this was a pretty, simple piece.

What is neat about the Color Bar at Kendra Scott is you can make just about anything: necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings. I loved it but remember it is only available at the actual Kendra Scott stores and you can make your own unique piece.

Before I go,  I wanted to share about this little vest. I LOVE it and had a lot of people ask me about it when I posted about it on instagram/facebook last week! 

Excuse my freakish looking arm. I paired it with blue skinny jeans, leopard wedges, and a striped tank. Simple but fun!

I can't for the life of me find it anywhere but I did find some similar ones! I actually would like a 2nd one for fall and winter! You can add it to a dress or over a long sleeve fun print shirt! Believe me....I never thought I would say I love vests. But I am starting to love jackets and vests more. I think it's because it can make outfits look more put together and layer nicely! So here's what I found:
This one is super cute and edgy. Not sure I could pull it off. You can find it HERE. It is part of the Nordstrom Anniversary sale and is only $84.90 but will go up to $128 after the sale.

This one would be great for the weekend and work! I am loving this one! It is also part of the Anniversary sale. It's on sale for $57.09 but will go up to $88.

And this is the one I am ordering NOW! It is on sale for $23.40 and here is the best thing...it comes in a coral color, bright blue, and white!! You can find it HERE!

 And I want to share one more that I think I will also be ordering today. This is a cropped, drape front blazer that would be cute with jeans and heels, a dress, or a cute skirt. Perfect for a fall date night or to work. I am thinking the pink or blue for me! It's on sale for $23.40!!!! Find it HERE
Don't forget to check out Lauren's blog HERE! She purchased some super cute Kendra Scott stuff and it was so funny to see what we were drawn to!!! 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Back to School.....

It will be back to school for me and many of you!!! I go back August 1st but start back with meetings and things in the next 2 weeks. I am excited but sad because I feel like I have been in my own wonderful bubble with the kids. Sleeping in until 8:30 a.m., wearing a bathing suit and cover up with no makeup, and making plans with friends every week sure has spoiled me. On the positive side, I am so excited to see students and get the year going...then we have the holidays to look forward to!!!

I won't lie, this year will be a little scary. As many of you know, last year was my first year on the campus and this year most of the administrative team I worked with and loved will be gone. They moved on to other things and it is bittersweet. I am so happy for their new ventures but geez....I just really loved those people and learned so much from them! Our new administrator seems fabulous so I am sure it will be a great year. Change is just hard but usually ends up bringing so many neat experiences!

Okay.....so with back to school comes getting our offices ready. When I say ready, I hope to have mine decorated and organized. With that, I wanted to get my 2014-15 Office Starter Pack together in case anyone needed it to help get them started and I will be using it too. This is not just stuff I make to sell, it is stuff that I actually use. I am excited about this year's pack because I made it somewhat neutral and trendy so that it can be versatile. You can purchase it HERE!

I am still working on some units and powerpoints for guidance. I hope you find this helpful. I will also be posting a freebie this week so be on the lookout for that!!

I also wanted to share an awesome video many of you might have seen but I would hate to not share and someone miss out on it. Colbie Cailat came out with a beautiful song called "Try." Oh.my.word! I can't wait to use this for a self esteem group. Don't get me wrong, I love me some makeup and getting dolled up but I know that is not who I am. It does help me feel good about myself but at the same time, what example do we as women set for girls? This is a great video that shows how beautiful people can be....just being them. Our outward appearance should not define us...our hearts should.
Here is the video.
I hope y'all have a great week and soak up every bit of summer!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Counselor Q&A: Part 1

Hey y'all! I had posted about counselor questions you may have because I had hoped to do a little Q&A. Now, let me first start by saying....I am definitely NOT an expert. I have been a counselor for only 4 years going on 5 and have tons to learn.

I feel like I have some ideas to bring to the table and wanted to help any questions new counselors or interns may have. I know how scary it can be looking for a job and starting your first year. Being a counselor can be a scary job because we are a big part of our students' lives but it sure can be the most rewarding job! I broke this up into two parts because I wanted to be able to give thorough and hopefully helpful answers. So let's start!  These are some questions that sweet counselors sent in!

I am going to be interning at a middle school in the fall. I love doing small groups, but they are not done often at this school. My supervisor says I am welcome to give them a try. I have experience with groups at the elementary school. Do you have any tips/ideas/resources for groups at the middle school level?

Great question!! I had to figure this out, as well, this year. I moved from elementary to middle school and did tons of elementary small groups (12 to be exact) but was clueless as to how I would run them at the middle school level. With different lunches, CAIN time (student support after lunch), and different periods I was a bit overwhelmed at first but then I tried to get creative. 

I emailed teachers a couple of weeks after school had started (I think the 2nd six weeks) to ask who may benefit from some of the groups I was going to start (based on the needs of some kiddos I had already met with).  From there I looked up each of their lunches and created a chart to see if I had any common kiddos at specific lunches for specific topics. From that, I was able to do lunch bunch small groups similar to what I did in elementary. 

In regards to resources, I usually kept it simple. I did, however, use this book a lot. 
You can find it on Amazon HERE!
I also used a lot of music for "free writing" activities, journals for coping skills, paper and markers for writing goals, and I also loved looking up fun icebreaker, team building activities online.

Ultimate Camp Resource had a lot of neat ideas for icebreakers. You can find the site HERE. With my students, I noticed they enjoyed team building and just talking more than anything!! I just tried to see the needs of the group and the vibe the first meeting and that helped me to plan for future sessions.

Any suggestions on how to make yourself stand out when applying places!? I have just finished a year leave replacement and am now looking for a new position.

This may be corny...but I think being yourself is the key to standing out. Focusing in on your talents and letting a glimpse of that show in your interview really sets you apart. At the same time, it's also important to understand that not only do you want a job....but you probably want to be at a campus where you are the right fit. When I applied for elementary positions, I knew that I was going to be flexible and adapt but luckily the principal that hired me wanted someone creative, positive, and upbeat! When I went into my interview, I created a not so traditional resume that was fun and highlighted my strengths. Note: I also brought my regular resume.
Here is an example of what I gave them as a way to see how I enjoyed being creative.
 I think letting them see your passion shine through and being genuine makes a big difference!!! I also think dressing professionally is so important. I have sat in on many interviews and helped out at job fairs and there have been times I was either shocked by how short a skirt was or how low cut a shirt was or how it seemed like they didn't try at all and just threw on something. I am in no way judging or saying looks matter but if you are wanting to obtain a job and work with kids, dressing professionally is important. Professionalism is so important! Now, have I gotten every job I applied for? No... but I remember thinking that I will be put where I am supposed to be and that gave me a sense of peace about it all. I know it can be heartbreaking and stressful and put you on a roller coaster of emotions but just be yourself and know that you will end up where you're meant to be!! Good luck!!! : )

Starting out as a fresh new school counselor: Any tips on some must haves I should have in my tool box?

 I think no matter what grade level you have, there are some simple, budget friendly essentials.

#1 Paper and markers
It's amazing what some markers, paper, and prompts can do. At my last school, we had a lot of students that did not speak English. We had refugees from around the world and when I had them come to me, I was so thankful for paper and markers because somehow we could communicate with pictures. It was amazing. 
There are so many activities you can do with those basics. For elementary, it may be drawing how you feel or drawing something that scares you. For middle school, it may be writing down goals or drawing/writing how you feel when people call you names, etc.

#2 Stress ball or something students can "fiddle" with
Sometimes I have students who truly need to see me but feel so awkward. That is when a stress ball or a squishy ball comes in handy. They may want to talk it out but have something to "fiddle" with to possibly avoid eye contact or use it as a way to distract their nervousness. I am actually on the look out for more items like this!! 

#3 A laptop/technology
A laptop or ipad is a must have! Whether it is to play a song to reflect on in group or a video for students, or a way to access college info...a laptop or computer is a must for any counseling program. 

#4 A Planner
Being organized is one of the biggest qualities a school counselor must possess. As counselors we wear many hats and having a planner or electronic way to keep it all together is an absolute must!!

#5 Books
For elementary, I had a lot of books that I frequently used in my guidance lessons and even small group (Ex: Julia Cooke books). For middle school, I would love to do a book study or integrate more literature into lessons but even they sometimes love the younger kids' books. I remember reading Oh the Places You'll Go and then creating goals and plans of action!! They loved it!!

I would say we could add so many items to this like puppets, printables on the wall, etc but really you can start off with these simple things and do so much!!!

I hope these were helpful and I look forward to the next round of Counselor Q&A's which I will post this week! If you have any more questions, please feel free to email me at melroseacker@yahoo.com or comment below!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Examples of Character and Just Way Too Much Typing....

Hey, y'all!!! I have been pretty busy this summer soakin' up every second with my littles since I go back to work August 1st. It is always bittersweet because I love my job but I absolutely enjoy feeling like a stay at home mom in the summer. I have loved seeing many of you at the ASCA conference and have already read some great blogs on what was brought back. If it weren't for us just going to Disneyworld last year, I would have been there in a heart beat.

Oh.M.Gee! Today, I wanted to share a resource with you all that I LOVE. I used this in elementary and have a couple of ideas of how to use them in middle school this year.

You may have heard of the site, it is called Values.com also known as the Foundation for a Better Life. They run the great commercials full of character lessons and examples of showing respect in everyday life. Many times their quick little clips bring me to tears. Here is one:

In elementary school, I would find ones that were age appropriate and related to whatever guidance lesson I was doing. In middle school, I think they would be great to show sometimes during lunch (maybe one every other week) and have a discussion/mini lesson while they eat.

You can get to the site HERE and they have such neat resources. They have inspirational quotes which can be read on announcements, sent out in a school newsletter, or even put on cute little notes for teachers throughout the year. You can also view the tv commercials from the site and if you click AT YOUR SCHOOL and then REQUEST POSTERS AND DVD'S you can get your very own copy of a cd with the commercials and a some posters to hang on your campus for FREE!!

I think no matter what level you are at and no matter what program your district is implementing, this can be embedded. What I see at middle school especially is that we have a school full of amazing kids but sometimes "making the right choice" or "showing respect in the face of a situation" may not be popular. I think a lot of times kids know and want to do the right thing but the aftermath of it not being the "cool" thing to do overrides that. I think if we can work hard to create an environment where respect and values are the norm, it can help change the culture of a school.

Academic support, emotional support, crisis response, and teacher support are on the top of my list as a counselor but I think creating a respectful culture can help in all areas. I would have to say that is one of my biggest goals this year!!

Don't forget to check out the site and get you some FREE resources. I have a little bit of downtime before volunteering at vacation bible schools and dentist appointments for the whole family. So in between play dates and hopefully getting into my office, my main focus is to create 3 TPT items for sale (oh and I can't wait to post them, they are halfway done), make some newer versions of freebies, and finish some stories to hopefully get published. My husband and I are working on one now together (remember he is a teacher) for children's books.

So, please be on the look out for some fun stuff! All 3 TPT items will be posted by the end of July just in time for back to school counseling shopping and speaking of back to school....Andrea (over at JyJoyner Counselor) and I are cooking up some fun posts!!

Let me leave you with a Stylish Spotlight which I hope to pick back up on!!!
This is on my wish list and a piece I would love to have for back to school! It is the Kendra Scott Rayne necklace and is available in so many fun colors. I had wanted the earrings but sadly they were too heavy for me! : ( You can find a link HERE. If you sign up for the mailing list you can get 15% off your next purchase! Maybe my hubby is reading this!!?

And I am accepting any new counselor questions that I will be answering in my next post. So please leave any comments/questions on this post or on facebook. I met up with our new school counselor this past week and we had too.much.fun!!! We talked about plans for this year but mostly had fun!! Maybe too much fun. This was a great time to just spend quality time together.

We had a nice little lunch at a tea place.
We are Chi Omega sisters (different chapters) and went to check out the new Chi Omega house at SMU!
Then we went to Sprinkles and she introduced me to this amazing place called Swoozies. Oh my word! Love! I may have had a mini panic attack because I was overwhelmed with goodness...haha! I told my sister in law about it because I knew it was her style and she said they have a website which you can find HERE! I love anything monogrammed and stationary so this was like a dream place!

Since we will be co-counselors we just had to get agendas together so we got the Kate Spade agendas and left them to get monogrammed.
I got this Kate Spade planner with a navy monogram.

Liz got this one with a black monogram I believe!

We had so much fun to say the least!! I am going to get to work on those TPT units and don't forget to comment with any new counselor questions or just questions in general. I would love to do a Q&A type format.

I have also been blogging over at my personal blog which you can find HERE!

And check our my sister in law aka blogging buddy Lauren's blog HERE!