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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

My Hope for You...

When you think of your students...what is your hope for them?

One of the back to school activities we had at Shannon this year was to have our team members (staff and families) write their hope for our students on a card to be displayed in the hall. I was blown away by reading the cards because I think our team captured it all perfectly. It all boiled down to reaching every child not only academically but emotionally.

I think we can all agree that we want students to be academically successful and have high expectations set before them. We want them to rise to challenges and be resilient.

Yet, when we look at the child as a whole...our hopes for them involve more than that.  As educators, we work with students that have all types of backgrounds, differences, and challenges. Our job is to teach them even more than they "need" to know, make them feel safe, and help bring out the best in them (their talents, strengths, & abilities).

So, as our year gets settled, I challenge you to reflect on your hope for your students. What do you want for them? What do you need to do to bring that out in them? I feel that when we understand what our hopes for our kids are, it helps us focus on our why.

At the beginning of the school year, Dr. Anderson (our Secondary Chief Academic Officer) shared a video (below) by Michael Jr, a comedian, that talked about knowing your why. In the video, he said something that was so profound to me. He said, "When you know your why, your what becomes more impactful because you're walking towards or in your purpose."

This made me reflect on my why which brought me to what I hope for the students that I work with. So, as the busyness of the year consumes your mind, I hope that you will have the opportunity to reflect on your hopes for your students in your class, your school, and your district....and what your part will be in making that a reality.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Fall Faves: Books, a Conference & More!

Fall is here! Besides Christmas, it is my favorite time of the year. The excitement of a new school year, pumpkin everything, and the amazing weather (in Texas that means low 80's but I will take what I can get).

Since it is Fall, it's the perfect time to share some of my favorite things (some school related and some not). But I first wanted to share about an amazing opportunity to learn, grow, and build your personal learning network! My friend (and school counselor who blogs HERE) Melissa and I will be presenting at the upcoming Lone Star School Counselor Association Fall Conference. This will be my first time to attend and present. Melissa went last year and said it was amazing. If you are interested in attending, you still can! You can find more information HERE!
I don't know about you but other than coffee, one of my favorite things to buy are books!! I love educational books, children's books....I will take them all. I try to keep a list on my phone when I come across a neat book I would love to add to my own kiddos' collection, for use at school, or for me to read. My husband then orders a few here and there for me when he orders other things on Amazon. I was so excited the other day when two books came for me!

The first book is called The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig. This is a great story to read that could hit so many topics such as; self esteem, promoting kindness in others, building relationships. You can find it on Amazon HERE

You could even do a quick reflection activity like the one below.

The second book I wanted to share is called Rude Cakes. This book is sure to bring laughter and teach a lesson on bullying and manners. This would be great for small group or guidance lessons geared for students K-2 on respect. My own kids loved the illustrations.

Now to some of my favorite things this season!

1. There's actually 3 things in this pic that are my faves (of course other than sweet E)
Tassel Earrings ($2 at Walmart) A sweet teacher was wearing them at school and then texted to tell me they were now on clearance...that's a win. They are super light, too!
Lip Gloss: I am wearing Lipsense (one coat of Precious Topaz and two coats of Champagne Pink)-Message me if interested, my sister in law sells it!
Fall Hair: After my thyroid surgery, my hair has been falling out a bit. Highlights (with bleach) probably wasn't helping so I talked to my amazing hairstylist, Mallory, and she gave me a new, fall look that was probably better for my hair situation.
2. Fall Nights
There is nothing better than a fall night with a cool breeze making memories with your family. Even having our windows open and a cup of hot tea makes for an amazing "mommy break."

3. All the Fall Books and Coffee
I just love reading Fall books. It reminds me of all the Shared Reading as a Kindergarten/1st Grade teacher. We even pulled all of our fall books to put in a basket to read.

And when I say fall coffee, I don't mean anything fancy which will cost $5. I love a plain ol' coffee with non fat milk, 3 stevia, 3 pumps of pumpkin sauce, light whip, and pumpkin spice topping. It is so good and only around $3....it's my cheaper version of a pumpkin spice latte that isn't as sweet.

Hope you are all having the opportunity to enjoy all of the small moments this Fall season and that you are taking time to take care of YOU!


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Hello...it's me.

Hello, it's me....anyone else now have that Adele song in your head? I hope you have all had a wonderful start to the year. I can't believe it is mid September. Do you ever feel like you have so many ideas and things you want to do but you also want to just make sure you are on top of everything that you need to do? #storyofmylife

I often have ideas running through my head constantly about school whether I am driving, in the shower, cooking dinner...it never stops. Thank goodness for running to do lists.

I have a few things I would like to share with you all today (one of them is a bit embarrassing but we will get to that later).

Some of you had asked if I was going to share my office this school year. It is nothing fancy and, honestly, it is quite simple. This year I really just wanted to create a collaborative, open space. Last year, I hated to meet with staff members and students behind a big bulky desk.

Over the summer, my principal and I both wanted to clear out our offices. We wanted to make spaces that people would be comfortable in and not full of furniture that felt like barriers. I prefer to sit beside people when I meet with them or in a more casual setting. Money was limited so I had to work with what I had.

I found a standing desk (it adjusts and can be at a normal height or at a standing height). I used that as a little table between the two chairs I already had. We (well really my principal) took off part of my huge desk and turned it facing the wall so I could still have desk space and use it for storage.

It has made a huge difference! I must say that I love it!

 The decal on the door was created by the daughters of one of our sweet teachers.

 Now, my dream office would look like this. Can't all schools be like Google offices?

I could just slide on down to visit classrooms!!!

The other thing I wanted to share with you is a little embarrassing. I had shared my 2017-2018 Office pack over the summer (you can find that post HERE). If you purchased it, you may have noticed a whole bunch of letters....but I did not provide an example of what they were for. Luckily, our sweet counselor figured out the puzzle!! Below is what it looks like!

The other day, I noticed some kiddos playing with Pokemon cards at lunch. I must say I am amazed by how strong Pokemon is still going. I remember my little brother playing with those (and he is about to turn 27). I was thinking it would be so cool if there were Character Cards. Students could create their own characters with character traits. They could leave them for friends or for other students to find, they could collect them, or share with students who are displaying that trait.

I have this posted in my TPT store for FREE!!! Below are some examples. I wanted my kiddos to create them but they are not home, I am sure theirs would have been much more creative! Get your copy for FREE HERE!!!

I am so excited about my next post and I hope you come back to check it out. Have a wonderful, restful weekend!


Monday, July 10, 2017

Book Giveaway Winners and A FREEBIE

Good Monday Morning, friends! I hope you are all having an opportunity to refresh and renew before we begin planning to head back to school. I am not sure when all of you go back, I will return in 2 weeks and I must say I am excited although I will miss sleeping in past 5:30 a.m. and being with my family.

I just wanted to announce the winners from author Erainna Winnett's book giveaway. If your name is listed, please email me at: melroseacker@yahoo.com with your full name and mailing address so I can get the needed information to pass on to Erainna.Thank you again to the wonderful Ms. Winnett for sharing her inspiring story of how she began creating products and resources and for giving away books to some readers. What a great book to start off beginning of the year guidance lessons. If you missed her guest post, you can check it out HERE.

If you did not win, I don't want you to walk away empty handed, so I have posted a Feelings FREEBIE that I hope you can use in a guidance lesson on feelings (where students can fill in the blanks) or you can use it to refer to in small group or individual counseling. You can access the freebie HERE!!!

 I am excited to share my next post......it will be a little different that posts in the past but it will definitely be an eye opening one! Take care!


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Educator Spotlight: Counselor and Author Erainna Winnett

I am so excited and grateful to have author and counselor Erainna Winnett as a guest on the blog today. Not only is she sharing a little about herself and her journey to becoming an author, but she is giving away 5 signed copies of her book Mrs. Joyce Gives the Best High Fives. Read below to be inspired by Erainna and to see how you can have a chance to win!

First, thank you so much for having me as a guest blogger, I am honored to share my story with your readers. I’ve been in education for the past twenty-two years. After fifteen years in the classroom I felt a calling for something more—a deeper way to connect with and help children, which is how I discovered school counseling.

I moved from classroom teacher to school counselor in 2011 and absolutely fell in love. However, I soon discovered there weren’t a lot of up-to-date resources available for school counselors. After hearing me gripe about it for months my husband finally told me to write my own resources. Isn’t it nice to have someone who knows what you need before you do?

And so, I began researching self-publishing and taught myself the basics of publishing a book. To be honest, there were some costly mistakes: the cover for Mrs. Joyce Gives the Best High-Fives was redesigned five times—YIKES—before I found one that I felt was ‘right’. Most students didn’t even know their school had a counselor, much less how one could help them.

The first week of school during my second year as a counselor I went into every classroom and read the Mrs. Joyce book. The children loved it and I received many thank-yous from teachers. Needless to say, the following week my office was constantly busy.

I continued listening to my students and knew that I needed to write other books to address individual needs. This launched me into the Helping Kids Heals therapeutic activity book set. I’m thrilled with how well all of these books have been received. Just last week, I woke up to an email from Ireland requesting copies of my books. Who would have ever thought a small-town Texas counselor-author could reach professionals across the ocean?

As educators, counselors are often the least familiar to parents, students and sometimes teachers. I hope my efforts have offered you some tools and helped you appreciate the power of your roles in our children’s lives. And I invite you to continue to add to our community. I wish you luck in the giveaway and hope you are having a relaxing, restful summer. All the best and Happy Counseling. Erainna

Thank you so much, Erainna, for being an advocate for the role of counselors and for using your creativity to provide resources for educators. You can check out a trailer for her book below and also don't forget to take a look at her other resources and books HERE.
If you would like to enter for your chance to win your own signed copy, all you have to do is comment in the post below for one entry. For an extra entry, you can share this link or the link from The Stylish School Counselor on FB and comment that you did in the comments. Good luck! Winners will be announced on the blog on Friday, July 5th!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

New 2017-18 Office Pack & A Giveaway

Happy 4th of July, friends!!! I just wanted to share with you all the new office pack for this year. You can find it HERE!

I also created a quick video to give a peek at what is in the pack and how you can use it. You can view it below!
Also, don't forget that tomorrow I will have a special guest post by counselor/author Erainna Winnett and she will be giving away 5 signed copies of her book Mrs. Joyce Gives the Best High Fives. Hope you enjoyed plenty of family time on this great day!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Building Relationships with Students

As an educator, regardless of the position that you hold, there is one key factor to success and that is building relationships with students. When we think of businesses, their goal is to reach their customers just as we want to reach our students and make sure they are successful. Personally, I feel that this has been a big goal of mine. I want to know the students I work with. I want them to know I care, that they are valued, and they matter.

There are 5 main things (although there is so much more) that I always make sure to do. These are things I have done as a teacher, counselor, and assistant principal. These may be things that I am sure many of you already do. I have received a few messages on FB asking about tips for a first year counselor and I would say building relationships would be my #1.

#1 Greetings and Smiles

This is so simple yet important. I never want a student to walk by me and not be acknowledged (at least if I can help it). If I have the opportunity to greet a student and smile at them, I will do it. Sometimes, students feel as if they don't matter or no one notices them. A simple hello and a smile can send the message, "I see you and you matter."

#2 Don't Let Your Feelings Get In The Way
As a counselor at heart, this is hard to say but I what I mean by this is I try to not let how I am feeling get in the way of how I make someone else feel. Many times some of our students are in environments where how the adults feel dictates how everyone else feels. I think it's important for kids to see real emotions and how to properly handle them but as someone whose goal is to inspire students and make them feel valued, if I am in a bad mood....they don't need to see that. They deserve the smile, greeting, and time to ask how they are. I am all about self care for educators but just because we are upset...doesn't mean we need to act that way towards our students.

#3 Get To Know Them
One thing I always try to do is make sure I know what the kids' interests are, what the "cool" things are, and what matters to them. When students are in my office or when I'm in lunches, I always make small talk and ask what their interests are or what the cool new trends are. I use that to relate to kids. For example, at lunches all the kids were talking about Pokemon Go so I made sure to memorize at least 5 Pokemon and play it so I could relate to them. My own kids are elementary age so I ask them about what kids are interested in and they give me all the details. I also try to remember one thing about each student I talk to (if they play baseball, if they love art, etc). This has especially helped when I have t o visit with them regarding a tough situation or a rough day, we already have a starting point.

#4 Be Visible & Involved
Many times kids unfortunately don't trust the words of adults. You say you care but they may have had experiences to believe that words don't mean much. That is why it's important to be involved, visible, and follow through. There is nothing that breaks that trust more than when we don't follow through with students or just appear sometimes. I do struggle with this when it's that busy time of year. I always fear not being visible but even if it is a stop to say hi in the halls, lunch, or in a class I will try my best to do it. And if it involves dressing up to get them excited about reading or whatever it may be, I will do it. An example of this would be dressing Ms. Frizzle for Literacy Day when the school voted for it!
#5 Ask Them
This may be the biggest thing that has helped me in building relationships with kids and it is so simple. Ask them their thoughts on things, ask what they think, and ask them what they need. So often we get caught up in what we, as adults, think is best for kids (such as how they learn best) when we could simply ask them. I am a big believer of student voice. It doesn't mean you will always do what they say or make a change but their feedback can be something to look at and consider in making decisions. I do quick surveys sometimes in my office when students visit for various reasons. I will ask them to write something positive going on in the school or something they are really happy with and then I have them write a concern or something they think we should look at. What is so neat to see is that....they are honest. There has been such amazing feedback from our kids. At the beginning of the year, we were trying to think of what rewards to give our 6th grade students for different things. So, we decided to create a survey and the one thing they wanted the most was something so simple and FREE. What they wanted the most was a pajama day. There is so much power, ownership, and responsibility that comes with student voice for the kids. It's also the most important piece of building that relationship and making them valued.

So, as we begin to plan (hopefully by the pool) for this next school year, I hope you will consider these simple suggestions as a way to build relationships with students. For many of us, our goal is to ensure that our students belong, matter, and are valued. I think through building relationships, we can accomplish this!

Check the blog July 5th for a counselor book giveaway. I will be partnering with Erainna Winnett and she will be giving away 5 SIGNED copies of her book Mrs. Joyce Gives the Best High-Fives and will be doing a guest post here!!!


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Writing it down...

The other day I was on Twitter and came along a blog post by Kara Welty (an educator I follow). She had shared a blog post about her hopes as an assistant principal, you can see it HERE.

After I read it, I was inspired. Basically, she wrote down reflective questions that will help keep her focused on her role as an administrator. I thought this was a brilliant idea! There have been so many moments that I have ran these thoughts or questions through my mind but I have never really put them down on paper. Another idea she had was to post it on her door for parents, students, and staff to see. These were questions she would ask herself and/or others. We often talk about our beliefs and philosophies but how often do we share them with our co workers and students? How often do we refer to them in our day to day?

As I reflected on my beliefs and what guiding questions I feel will keep me centered on the main thing, I came up with these.

S-Is this putting STUDENTS first?

P-Are we PROMOTING leadership (in students, staff, myself)?

A-Will this help our campus ACHIEVE?

R-Are we encouraging RISK TAKING?

K-Are we building relationships? Do we KNOW our students?

It worked out perfect because I believe our purpose as educators is to help create that spark for our students and staff we work with. We want to motivate, encourage, and inspire. We want to promote curiosity, risk taking, and innovation. 

We always talk about the importance of reflection and writing with our students. Sometimes, I think we forget how powerful it can be for us as educators.

What would be your guiding questions? What would be the words or questions you would jot down to help center your focus as an administrator, teacher, or counselor?


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!
           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
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.