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Monday, November 19, 2018

My Teacher is An Elf and Writing Our Own Books

Hello, friends. Happy Almost Thanksgiving. I have my fingers crossed for days full of naps, wearing my pj's and robe all day, and watching Hallmark movies kind of relaxation.

I have been meaning to share a little about our (my husband and I) new journey writing books. Since I was in college we wanted to write a book. My husband, Joey, has also loved doodling and drawing. I still have notes from him when we were in college with characters all over it. For you young ones, we totally wrote notes before texting...haha!

We both had kept ideas of books we wanted to one day write together. We always thought it would be cool to be a husband and wife team...and here we are today. We have three books available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and plenty more coming. Our first three are all a similar style but we are excited about our upcoming ones that have a totally different feel and look.

With it being the holidays, we are excited to share about our recent release My Teacher is an Elf. This book is based on my years as a 1st grade and Kindergarten teacher and my students' suspicions. You can find it here.

This book was written for pure fun to be enjoyed by all but it was really written from the viewpoint of a teacher to use during shared reading. There are plenty of opportunities to make inferences, discuss character traits, and comparing and contrasting.

Something we were so excited to hear about is how a Elementary Principal is using it in Florida. We received a snippet of the email she sent to her awesome staff and we think this is a pretty neat idea!

My Teacher is An Elf On the Shelf???!!!! Whhhaaattt???!!!!

You know how those ornery elves hide during the holiday season? You find 'em in a different place every day (well, almost every day😉)...Those elves are usually up to somethin' no good!

Well, we have a similar scenario that's going to be happenin' here at Sterling Park! From the Monday after Thanksgiving through the last day before Winter break, ornery elves are going to be hiding one book each night, the lucky finder of the book gets to keep it! What's the book called you ask?

My Teacher is an Elf! By Joey and Melanie Acker

We will have our own My Teacher is an Elf on the Shelf hunt! Be on the lookout each day for the book! It could be hidden anywhere! When you find it, send an email to STPE-AllStaff with the location that you found the treasure so we'll all know it has been found for the day.

We can't wait to see pictures of all the fun they have. If you are using out book in your classroom or on your campus, please feel free to share pictures. We would LOVE to see them. You can email us at joeyandmelaniebooks@yahoo.com. You can also follow us on Instagram & Twitter @ackerbooks and like us on Facebook here.

We also have My P.E. Teacher is a Ninja and My Counselor is a Princess. You can find each of them HERE and HERE

I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving, eat lots of pie, and take plenty of naps. 


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

ABC....Worry Free Book Review

Happy almost Thanksgiving, friends!  It is so cold in Texas right now. Those of you in places up north are probably laughing hysterically at me right now while I sit in my robe, on a heating pad, and under about 7 layers of blankets. It's a whopping 36 degrees and in Texas, that is straight up winter weather. Our family is excited about the break and I hope you all get time to renew and practice self care!

I am really excited to review a new book titled ABC Worry Free by Noel Foy. Now that my husband and I are writing books, my love for picture books has grown even more (I will blog about that in detail at another time). Y'all...I love books. My husband thinks I buy tons of shoes and clothes but really it's books...they are just much easier to hide. I even love the smell of books. Can they make that as a candle scent?

What I love even more than a good picture book is a book that easily relates hard to understand situations and emotions to kids. Things like depression, frustration, and anxiety are often difficult to express to children in books....even in person. Noel Foy does an amazing job of this and with an easy to understand situation.

The character in the book has a rough experience (an encounter with a bee) and begins to feel anxious about ever going out or being with friends. It touches on what anxiety and worry can look like in kid form, which I love. Not only does it show what the boy experiences (not wanting to go outside, not playing with friends), it gives an outside look at what his friends are thinking. It even gives a catchy coping technique (A-Accept, B-Breathe, C-Change).

This would be a wonderful addition to your guidance rotation and also great for a small group. The illustrations by Olga and Aleksey Ivanov are warm and inviting, as well.

You can purchase the book HERE, and find more information about the story and author HERE.

As I am beginning to work with kids struggling with anxiety in my LPC-Internship (under the supervision of the amazing Erin James, LPC-S), I have found a great need for resources like this. I have even created a quick sheet that you could supplement the story with. You can find that for FREE in my TPT store HERE.

I am also giving away a FREE copy of this book. Check out the instructions on Facebook to enter! Have wonderful week and enjoy the rest of the week with your students!


Monday, August 27, 2018

Leading in the Present (Plus a Fun Freebie)

Happy almost September...say whaaat?!?! How is that even possible. I am over here still trying to get myself together and Starbucks will be breakin' out the pumpkin spice latte soon. August and September always flash before our eyes. With my new position, getting my own kiddos ready for back to school, and me and my husband's side projects (more about that later)...it has been busy, as I am sure it has been for all of you. I hope you have welcomed sweet students through your doors and have had time to catch your breath.

One thing that has really been on my heart to blog about has been Leadership. I don't mean leadership as an administrator or central office staff member (while those are important, too) but I simply mean leadership.

I was thinking about what it means to be a leader. Sounds simple enough...to be a leader means to lead. Yet, so often we get titles and leadership confused. Leadership goes way beyond titles. Leadership isn't something you magically inherit when you obtain a certain role. To be a leader is an action. To be a leader is something you choose to do when it's not easy. To be a leader is to take risks. To be a leader is to be passionate about something and want to share that excitement with others.

I can remember throughout my career thinking that when I have this job or that job, I can do "x, y, and z." I remember telling myself I couldn't be part of starting a new initiative because I wasn't in a "leadership role." I would think about the next job I could get where I could impact more, do more, or lead.  In reality, I could have been a leader right where I was. It wasn't about what position I held, it was about my mindset. In education, I feel that we all do this at times (I am guilty of it). We tell ourselves if I was in this place or in this position, it would be better or I could do more. It's almost as if we sabotage ourselves. I love the quote that says, "The grass isn't greener on the other side, it is green where you water it." I remember there was a poster of this at the middle school I worked it. It has stuck with me since then.

That very quote is what keeps me joyful. Sometimes we are in tough situations or our hearts are set on something else but it is our outlook and perception that can make all of the difference. Remember, you can lead and impact exactly where you are. I truly believe we are all put in the position and place we are for a reason. We have the choice to embrace it and lead.

As a back to school gift. I am sharing this reversible door sign. It serves a purpose with a side of humor. You can find it in my TPT store for FREE HERE!

TIP: As I shared before, a great place to print items with a lot of color are UPS stores. I do all of my personal printing and even some work printing there. I can usually look at Retail Me Not for coupon codes. The ink and paper quality are pretty amazing.

Have a great rest of the week and take time for you!


Sunday, July 29, 2018

Mindfulness, Our Students Today, and a Julia Cook Book Giveaway!!

Friends...how is August almost here? I am hoping you had an opportunity to rest, relax, and rejuvenate. One of the vital parts of being a counselor is self care, right?

I was recently reading an article on mindfulness in children. With technology providing multiple distractions and immediate responses and gratification, mindfulness is something that we are losing touch of. I think we can all agree that this is very true with adults, as well.

So, how can we teach mindfulness to our students? There are so many benefits to mindful practice in our schools and with our kids. Below are a few easy ways to start:

  • Start small with deep breathing and sitting in a relaxed position (start off with just one or two minutes). Have students close their eyes or focus on something for a minute. 
  • Use a fun app. I have talked about Go Noodle before and I am sure many of us use it. It has a whole piece simply for mindfulness. They have tons of channels and one of them is called Flow. It has relaxation and mindfulness activities. 

  • Use items to help practice mindfulness like sensory bottles, snow globes, or an hourglass with sand. Have students watch it settle and focus on it. Reflect on what they were thinking about and what it was like to relax and be mindful of the sand or glitter as it fell. 
  • Use literacy to help students gain a better understanding. An amazing book to do this with is Julia Cook's new book Be Where Your Feet Are!! 
          I absolutely love this book. It is very unique because I have not seen many stories that focus on mindfulness. I think it is something we talk to kids about all the time but it can be hard to describe how it affects us. 

Julia Cook does a phenomenal job, once again, by really relating to how kids feel, giving vivid examples of what those feelings look like, and how to control them in a healthy way. She describes a young boy's day and how the many tasks and thoughts affect his day. I love the reoccurring theme and saying, "Be where your feet are!" It is an easy, catchy quote to teach students about being mindful and present. 

As I read this book, I kept thinking of the countless kiddos I have talked to that describe the very same feeling described by the character in the book. This is definitely a must have for your counseling libraries and would be great for a guidance lesson.  You can purchase the book HERE

To celebrate the release of this amazing, new book. I am giving away 2 copies to start your school year off with. To enter, like this blog post on Facebook and share. A winner will be announced this Friday, August 3rd

Have a wonderful rest of your week. It is such an exciting time of year full of being busy, don't forget to take care of you! :) 


Thursday, July 5, 2018

My Journey to Becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern

I want to apologize for how long this may be. I had had a lot of requests and messages for this post, so here you go! :)
When I began graduate school right after undergraduate, I knew I wanted to one day be a licensed
professional counselor (I kind of want to be everything one day). I had it all planned out. I would
graduate with my Masters degree and would immediately start my hours towards becoming a licensed
professional counselor but as life usually works, things didn’t go as planned. When I started graduate
school the plan was to wait years before having kiddos. When I graduated in December 2009, I had a
2 and half year old precious boy and was pregnant with a baby girl. Although, my dream was to do it,
being a mom that could devote more time to my babies was much more important and I don’t ever
regret it. Being a full time working mom of 2 kids under 3 and working on those hours would have
been too much at the time.

Fast forward 8 years later. Becoming a LPC had still been on my heart and one day after thyroid
surgery, I received a call that really prompted me to go after it. I got a call from the surgeon saying
they had found a small amount of malignant carcinoma. I went to the next doctor which said it was
papillary thyroid cancer. It was all taken out and they continue to monitor. It was such a blessing that
it was all pretty quick and easy.

However, that experience really made me reflect. What if it would have been worse? What if it ever got
bad to where I couldn’t have worked full time? Being a wife and mom are my top priorities but I also
find so much joy working with people. I felt as if all of that was a push from God. I talked to my
husband and knew this was the next step for me. I do not have plans of pursuing this full time or
anything because I LOVE working in the schools but knew it was something I wanted to do and soon.
I immediately began studying for the NCE. Below are the steps I had to do and check off:

-I first had to go to my state’s website (I am in Texas) to see what the requirements were. I printed it off and made a checklist. One of the things that comes up is what kind of degree or classes are required. When I worked on my masters I did not get a Masters of Education, I received a Masters of Science. I went with the 3 and a half years degree plan, it was around 63 something hours. It included what I needed to be a LPC (clinical and classes on diagnosis) and a school counselor.

-I had to get approved through the National Board of Certified Counselors to take the National
Counseling Exam (which is required in my state and almost all I believe). I had to fill out some forms
and get my graduate transcript to them to ensure I had the correct degree/classes. Make sure when
you do this step to ensure you are applying to take the test and not to become a national board
certified counselor. You can do both but it not done correctly you won’t get approved to take the
needed test (I almost made that mistake).

-I studied as hard as I ever had in my life for the test. Remember I had a 9 year gap between
graduating with my masters so I had to refresh on a lot of material, especially the new DSM-5. I am a
positive person but I was almost certain I was not going to pass (where was my positive self talk,
right...lol). I used a great website I found online called National Counseling exam. It was exactly what
I needed. You can choose how many days you would like to use the program. It had printable features
like study guides which I made a binder out of but I mostly used the online study tools and practice
exams which were the most helpful part.

-After passing the exam, I began to look for a supervisor. You must secure a supervisor and
have them complete an agreement with you before you can submit all your paperwork to the state. I
simply looked online. There were so many great ones out there but I knew I wanted someone with
different experiences than I had. My background is all school so I knew I wanted to expand my
knowledge base so I looked for someone that had more of a hospital/clinical background. I contacted
her, we met up to see if we were both a good fit for each other, and I had my first supervision this past
week. Once you are officially approved through the state, you can begin your hours. I can tell I am
going to love supervision time with her. I already learned something new!

-After I completed the test, finding a supervisor, and gathering all the required documentation

(transcripts, application, state paperwork), I took the Texas Jurisprudence exam. This is not a pass/fail
test, this is more a review of ethics in regards to counseling.

-I bought a bright pink envelope because I wanted to send this in a “counselor version-Elle Woods”
way. I wanted it to stand out because I knew it was going to take months to get approval. I sent it the
fastest way possible. (Note: It did take around 2 months but not as bad as I had expected).

-Now I am working on getting my 3000 supervised hours. 1500 are direct counseling (counseling

and conversations with parents/families) and 1500 indirect (assessments, researching, documentation,
weekly meetings with my supervisor).

Finally a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern under the supervision of Erin James LPC-S

I hope that helps if you are considering starting the process. Just a reminder that I am in Texas so if you
are in another state, the requirements could be different. Please feel free to message me any

There are some exciting things with the blog coming up!! I have a collaboration in the works with
another blogger! We will have a bit of spin off with a FB group, new blog, and more!

I am also working on a Top 10 Back to School post and I can’t wait to share it with you! Hope you are
all enjoying your summer!

Love & Positive Vibes,

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Mobile Office

When talking to fellow administrators, one of the topics that frequently comes up is visibility on campus. Sometimes, we have weeks with many meetings or are handling situations where we may not have the opportunity to be out in the building as much as we would like to.

As an elementary counselor, I would feel this way, too, and often I would take my counseling bag and just visit kiddos in the hall and devote a day to being around the building and doing check ins. With all the duties of a counselor, those days reminded me of my why.

 I do not like the feeling of not being as visible to the staff and students. Having a mobile office is the perfect solution. I have seen it floating around on Twitter and Instagram and thought I would give it a try. I know Megan does it, as well, at her campus. I even had the privilege of seeing her "wheel" by one day when I was at a meting. So what exactly is a mobile office? Basically, you grab a cart or flex/standing desk, grab your laptop and walkie, and anything you need to work on and work around the building. I was also doing classroom walk throughs so I didn't have a specific place to station myself. If a discipline situation came up or a staff member needed me, I had my walkie and my phone. I actually was able to "roll on over" to where I was needed and it worked beautifully. Outside of my office door, I put a sign that said I would be in my mobile office and to please text me if they needed me so if anyone stopped by, they would know how to reach me.

I loved being able to answer any questions, address any situations quickly, and for the students and staff to not have to come to me in the office, instead I was right there to serve them. I actually got a lot of work done in between walk throughs. The students loved saying hello in the hall.  It was something so simple yet gave me the opportunity to be available and serve, which is what I aim to do.

Our campus had purchased the standing desk that I am using in the picture above. We have one we share in the office and we had a few that we have used for students that need them in the classroom. I do not have the link to the specific one I am using but there is a similar option that you can find HERE. Megan has a nice, oval shaped standing desk that has a lot more room. Of course, you can also use a cart or you could station yourself in a particular hallway with a regular desk and chair.

Regardless of how you do it or what you use, the goal is to be available, visible, and enjoy being a part of the campus where everything is taking place...right in the halls and classrooms.