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2018 Inspiring Words of Wisdom

sunrise new year

For most adults January 1st, 2018 is the start of a new year. However, for most students it’s the half way point in the school year. During this time some students experience a mid term slump. No matter what it is a great time to reflect on progress thus far.As we approach the end of winter break it is a great time for students to decide how they want the rest of the year to go. What successes did you have in 2017? What do you want to accomplish in 2018?

Carl Bard’s quote is great food for thought with the start of the new year. Whether you are in the the mindset that it is a new year or mid year it is always a good time for a fresh start.  If at any time you feel like things are not going the direction you want reflect on how to create a new beginning and make things better.

Wishing you happiness and success in 2018.

mel professional photo by kateMelanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“

The Ultimate Test Prep Guide – Ace Any Exam

This workbook is the best guide to meeting your academic goals for tests, midterm exams, and final exams. Many students have found success with using these strategies! This book contains information that will help you before and during your exams. You will learn how to prepare for any test in a way that suits you as well as combat test anxiety. You will succeed! You can do it!

test prep guide title page

Today’s educational system is becoming increasingly competitive for students, as educational institutions are being required to increase their standards. This is causing a stress epidemic amongst students. They must learn as much as they can, and learn it effectively. As someone who works closely with teens I see this the intense pressure students are under. Unfortunately, in school there is no stress management class and students are forced to “deal” with these overwhelming feelings of anxiety.

I created this book so students can achieve the grades they want on major tests with less stress and more success; thus helping them reach their academic goals. With this book I hope you are able to learn how to manage the stress that comes with exams and effectively study in a way that suits your learning style.

test prep guide table contents

Want this workbook so you can get the grade you want? Contact me at (904) 487-8269 or email me at hello@studentfutures.org for more information. Workbooks are just $15. Need some help preparing for exams? I can walk you through every step of the way. We can set up a session and make a plan for you to achieve your goals.

mel professional photo by kateMelanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“

 

If You Were the Bravest Version of You

brave

If you were the bravest version of yourself today, what would you be doing?

Being brave means accomplishing your goals and following your dreams even though there is a part of you that is scared out of your mind. There are things that hold us back from reaching our goals. One of those can be fear. Students in middle school, high school, and college, experience fear on a regular basis.

Students’ Top Fears

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear they won’t be liked
  • Fear they will get in trouble
  • Fear of bullies
  • Fear of talking to parents
  • Fear of the future and life after graduation
  • Fear of bad grades
  • Fear of talking to teachers
  • Fear of not being good enough
  • Fear of not having enough money

Benefits of Fear

Fear is an emotion and emotions, whether negative or positive, remind us that we are human. Most fears are not real, but made-up.  They are usually not true threats to your life and success. Being mindful of our fears and recognizing where they come from can help us work through challenges. Analyze why the fear is taunting you before it worsens. Facing our fears helps develop confidence. Confidence derives from achieving what we never thought possible. Listen to your fears and show it who’s boss!

How to be the bravest version of yourself.

Maybe it’s just by showing up to class on time, sitting down and doing the work, and sticking with it even when it feels scary and tough.

Maybe it’s by saying no to the things that will distract you from achieving your dreams and reaching your goals.

Maybe it’s by finally getting started on something new  like a project or something new that you have been wanting to learn or improve upon.

Maybe it’s by reaching out to a friend, coach, or mentor, asking them for help, and giving yourself permission to not have to do this journey on your own anymore. 

Your fears are not going to just vanish. It is human nature to experience fear. It will always be a part of your life. The biggest challenge is to be fearless. It’s to follow our dreams and continue to work towards our goals despite any fear we might have. Be brave.

mel professional photo by kateMelanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“

 

Words of Wisdom: Gordon Hinkley

rope climb

As the middle of the school year approaches students tend to feel overwhelmed by projects, tests, mid term exams, etc. Gordon Hinkley’s quote reminds us not to give up. Keep going. Do your best. If there is a quiz, test, homework assignment, etc. that you did not do well on or you downright flunked no worries. You have many more opportunities to improve. Think about what you can learn from your disappointments and use those experiences to make the future better. The school year is not over yet! Keep your head up and continue to work towards your goals. If you need any help don’t hesitate to contact me. Academic coaching has helped so many students reach their academic goals and achieve success.

mel professional photo by kateMelanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“

Helping Students Track Their Own Progress

student progress

Why should students monitor their own progress?

Often, teachers know how students are doing overall, but students themselves rarely know. Students who track their grades regularly, not just at midterms and finals, take ownership of their learning, and are more likely to persevere in the face of challenges and take steps to proactively meet their goals. Tracking their progress empowers students to be independent and successful, which will not only benefit them in school but in any future endeavor.

Benefits

When students track their own grades:

  • They take ownership of learning
  • They are intrinsically motivated
  • They perform better on high-stake tests
  • They learn how to track goals

What does it mean for students to track their own progress?

A student has to understand how they learn, and have the ability to articulate, create, or ask for the resources necessary to meet their learning needs. Students with these attributes take responsibility for and ownership of their learning by reflecting on successes and failures, and creating action steps to positively progress forward in reaching their goals.

When students track their progress, it means that they have set a goal and know how to measure where they are in the process of achieving it. Students regularly analyze and update their goals using concrete evidence—which can be anything. Students should reflect often on what is working and what’s not and figure out what they need to do to make progress with their goals.

How can parents help?

Having a simple non-judgmental conversation with your student is helpful. Ask them how satisfied they are with their grades. Ask them what’s working and what’s not. Then, discuss a plan on how to deal with what’s not working. Ask them what kind of help they might need to be successful. Making this a regular conversation is helpful.

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR OWN DOWNLOADABLE PROGRESS TRACKER!

mel professional photo by kateMelanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“

What have you learned about yourself from a current challenge?

highschool football

Being a student in middle school, high school, or college comes with many challenges every day. They could be academic, social, emotional, etc. Think about a recent challenge you had and how you dealt with it. What did you learn about yourself? How do you want to deal with similar challenges in the future?

“When you go through life’s challenges, you have the choice to either fall apart and become a victim of the circumstances, or you can rise up high and above others.” — Mo Seetubtim

mel professional photo by kateMelanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“

Words of Wisdom: Walt Disney

Disney words of wisdom

Disney words of wisdom

Worry means to feel or experience concern or anxiety. Students tend to worry a lot about their grades, appearance, and much more. Parents worry about their children, job, finances, and other things. Too much worry, anxiety, or stress can affect the way you feel and live your life. Have you ever been so worried about how you will do on an exam that you can’t remember all that you have studied and end up not getting the grade you wanted? Don’t worry. Be happy!

Keep things in perspective.

Most things we worry about already happened or are temporary. Most things are solvable. Ask yourself, “How can I solve this problem?” “What can I do about this?” 

Focus on the positive.

Ask yourself: “What did I learn from this?” 

What if?

 Suppose, just for a moment, you live in a world where fear and anxiety do not exist. What could you do now?

mel professional photo by kateMelanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“

Mindfulness Intro For Students

Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to help middle and high school students as well as college students conquer stress and anxiety, and reach their academic and future goals. In this introductory video learn the benefits of mindfulness for students and participate in a short exercise that can be used in the future. I will tell you my two favorite FREE mindfulness apps too!

Don’t have time to check out the video? No worries. Here’s the gist of it.

Mindfulness involves using all your senses, thoughts, bodily sensations, and emotions to be present in the moment. With mindfulness we have the opportunity to learn how to respond to our emotions rather than react. Mindfulness has proven to have many benefits, especially, for students. Using mindfulness can help you meet your academic and future goals. While some students are making excellent grades, they may be experiencing a lot of stress with trying to keep up with the workload or staying organized. Mindfulness can help them manage their emotional well being, thus also positively affecting their physical health. Students who have practiced mindfulness have experienced better self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

For mindfulness to work, we have to really try it. And in the beginning, it might seem weird or pointless. But, keep in mind that this is new and different and with practice this will be beneficial to you. If we don’t try it, we can’t determine if it is useful for ourselves or not. So, let’s list some ways that you might find mindfulness to be useful and relevant in your own life.

Raise your hand if you have ever:

  • said something you wish you could take back?
  • done something that you later regretted?
  • felt angry and out of control?
  • felt nervous or anxious about an exam or performance?
  • been in a bad mood but not sure why?
  • been in a bad mood but not even sure what emotion it is?
  • felt like you need a break and want everyone to just leave you alone?
  • had trouble falling asleep because your mind won’t be quiet or your body feels restless?
  • been accidentally spacing out in class when the teacher calls on you?
  • noticed that you do much better at sports or music when you are really focused?

Our emotions are continually changing. Difficult emotions like anger, fear, worry, and stress actually release chemicals in our brain that prevent us from learning, and can make us react and say and do things we didn’t want to. Mindfulness stops these chemicals.

So how can you incorporate mindfulness into your schoolwork? Ready to give it a try?

There are some things to know before we start. So, in practice there is a leap from the big picture we just discussed to very simple techniques. We will be mindful of sound, breath, movement, thoughts, emotions, and other things. We will be paying attention on purpose for a short period of time.

Every time we practice mindfulness, we start by getting in a mindful posture. A mindful posture has five guidelines:

  1. Facing forward
  2. Back is upright
  3. Put your hands on your lap or beside you.
  4. Be still
  5. Be Quiet
  6. Mind and body are relaxed yet alert
  7. Letting your eyes close

Ok. Now that you are in a comfortable seated position let’s begin.

  • Start by taking one breath in through the nose and out through the mouth.
  • Now, close your eyes and take one deep breath.
  • Now take three breaths, but just normal breaths, don’t deliberately change it.
  • Now, take three breaths, this time noticing what you are feeling, hearing, touching, tasting, seeing (in your mind).
  • If you feel any kind of stress take a deep breath.
  • Picture this in your mind:

You are getting ready to take a test and feel relaxed because you are well prepared and know the material. You pick up your pencil and with a positive attitude you write your name at the top of the paper. You read and understand the directions. You work through the test easily completing each question. You answer the last question and have enough time to check your answers. You hand in your test and are confident that you will get the grade you want. Imagine rewarding yourself for your hard work and feeling satisfied with your success.

The goal with this exercise is for you to feel confident and relaxed to start studying or take a test. It is an easy and great exercise to do before a test or beginning a study session. If at any time you lose focus during this exercise just take a deep breath and re-focus.

I hope you continue to try mindfulness and that you find it helps you. My favorite FREE apps are Insight Timer and Breathe. Breathe is a great introduction to mindfulness and Insight Timer is a great app for finding guided meditations. You can search by topic and/ or length. Namaste.

mel professional photo by kateMelanie Black is an Associate Certified Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator who trained with Mindful Schools. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“

 

 

Helping a Shy Teen Come Out of Their Shell

Photo credit: https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2015/09/26/15/46/young-959231_960_720.jpg

Photo credit: https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2015/09/26/15/46/young-959231_960_720.jpg

What does it mean to be shy? Psychology today defines shyness as “the awkwardness or apprehension some people feel when approaching or being approached by other people. Unlike introverts, who feel energized by time alone, shy people often desperately want to connect with others, but don’t know how or can’t tolerate the anxiety that comes with human interaction.”

It’s important to understand the difference between shy and introverted. A common misconception is that all introverts are shy. This is not the case. Both introverts and extroverts can be shy. Shyness is the result of anxiety. It’s ok if your teen is quiet and there is no need to try to make them “liven up.” However, if their shyness hinders their communication with others, or limits them from doing things they want to do, then they might need some help in gaining some self-confidence so that they can come out of their shell.

Tips for helping teens rise above their shyness with confidence.

  • Help your teen pick a hobby or talent that they can master.
  • Give teens specific praise (a.k.a labeled praise) when they do well. Ex. You did a great job putting together that project board. OR Thank you for folding your laundry when asked.
  • Encourage them to learn from their mistakes rather than focusing on the outcome.
  • Be a positive role model for your teen. Model confidence.
  • Encourage your teen to get involved in the community like volunteering at a local organization or getting a part time job. Click HERE to read about local opportunities for teens.
  • Have a powerful discussion with your teen about something they are proud of, something they accomplished and how they did it.
  • Seek out a good role model for your teen. Click HERE for a list of mentoring programs and services in Jacksonville, FL.

 

Finals: Defeating Test Anxiety

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/anniferrr/

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/anniferrr/

Test Anxiety: Don’t Panic!

Sometimes no matter how hard you’ve worked to prepare for a test, anxiety can prevent you from performing to your full potential. Students get test anxiety for reasons such as fear of failure, lack of preparation, and poor test history. It can affect them physically, emotionally, and cognitively. Thus, affecting their results on the exam and their overall grade in a course.

I have had test anxiety ever since I was in elementary school. It only got worse when I was in college and university. The minute I received the test I felt my heart pound harder and harder. My face felt hot and my body became extremely tense. Timed tests only made the situation more stressful.

There are several ways to deal with test anxiety. Don’t suffer! Here are some strategies to help students overcome all the stress that comes with taking tests, especially timed tests.

 

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/

MOVE
Move around while studying. Stretch. Take Breaks. Walk around with your study sheets and flash cards and read them aloud.
MINDFULNESS
Breathe! “If you’re feeling nervous when you sit down to take the test, take three slow, steady breaths. Remind yourself that you’ve been getting ready for these tests all year long.” – Ted Dorsey
My favorite free mindfulness apps are MindShift and Breathe
FIDGET
Focus with fidget toys. Fat Brain Toys has the ultimate selection of fidget toys, which are searchable by age. Also, use small things such as a bracelet or necklace.
SLEEP
Get plenty of sleep. Don’t study while tired. If you are tired then stop. You will not retain anything if you are exhausted.
EAT
Always eat breakfast! During a test maintain your focus with a peppermint candy, gum, or a piece of chocolate.
PLAN AHEAD
Create a study plan two weeks in advance with a study schedule and specific strategies that will help you retain what you need to know.
MUSIC
Create a study playlist. Pick your power song and listen to it before the test for motivation.
TIME MANAGEMENT
Don’t panic when students start handing in their papers. There’s no reward for finishing first. If there’s answer you don’t know skip it and come back to it later.

 

 

Melanie Black of Student Futures is a trained academic life coach for students and teens. She has a passion to help students succeed. Academic coaching helps develop life skills for students as well as gives them academic strategies, which help to decrease anxiety and stress in students. Contact Melanie Black today for a free consultation at Melanie@studentfutures.org or (904) 487-8269.