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It’s Spring Break!

photo credit: http://www.patrick.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/732972/top-3-mac-honor-junior-enlisted-during-picnic/

photo credit: http://www.patrick.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/732972/top-3-mac-honor-junior-enlisted-during-picnic/

There’s no school for a week! The days every student cherishes. You get to sleep in, catch up on your favorite shows, and hang out with your friends. What else can you do with this time? Let’s face it. You can watch so many shows and sleep only so much before boredom sets in and you feel blah. It’s understandable that opportunities to relax and unwind are rare for students, but this time off provides more opportunities than just time to chill. Students can take advantage of free time to work towards their goals. Learn something new like baking something yummy, or practicing a new sport. Do college and career planning. Volunteer with a local organization related to your future career. Participate in a job shadow of someone who works in the career field you aspire to work in. Create a bucket list for summer break. Get your friends involved! Accomplishing these types of things on off days and long breaks requires planning in advance.

Brainstorm some ideas of what to do on your off days and long breaks. Make your own No School Bucket List! Be specific. Do not write college planning or volunteering. Write: research (school name), or volunteer with Humane Society.

What actions do you need to take in advance to be able to accomplish these things? For example, research a recipe to try or type my resume.

Enjoy your spring break. Use your time wisely. 

 

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.“

Making the Right Decisions for Your Education

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

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

This is the time of year when everyone is trying to make so many decisions about their education. It’s incredibly overwhelming for students and parents.

Where should I go for high school?

What program is right for me?

Should I apply for AP classes, the AICE program, or the Early College Program?

The deadline is coming and I don’t know what to choose!

What is the best choice for my future?

What do colleges and universities want to see?

What do you do to ensure that the best decision is made and you don’t lose your mind?

Personally, I am a huge fan of using Excel for these types of things. You can also get a blank piece of paper and pencil and start writing. Either way the point is to get your thoughts and options out of your head and onto a visual platform where you can see everything as a whole. This makes it easier to analyze everything. Click HERE for a free helpful spreadsheet to make your decisions. If you are trying to make decisions for college click HERE for a helpful worksheet.

List the schools and programs that interest you. If possible schedule tours of schools so you can see for yourself  where you want to go. When I was younger my dad would tell me to list the pros and cons related to a decision. I am not going to lie. When I was a teenager this sounded tedious, but it is great advice! I highly recommend doing it. What are the pros and cons of taking AP classes versus the Early College program? When you are listing pros and cons take into consideration your mental well being. There is a stress epidemic amongst teenagers. There is so much pressure to succeed. Don’t take on more than you can handle. Consider everything you want to do while going to school. What extracurricular activities do you want to do? Do you want to work or have an internship? Be realistic when analyzing your options and making decisions. Finally, write down any questions you have and take them to your guidance counselor for review. 

Slow Down!

While I know these decisions are overwhelming they are not something to take lightly. I understand your best friend may be going to one school, but that may not be the best suited place for you. It sounds annoying to have to make a list, visit schools, etc., but it’s WORTH IT! These decisions affect a huge part of your life so it’s important to analyze all your options carefully. Be mindful of deadlines and if you have major questions make an appointment with your guidance counselor. Please take the time to do what’s right for you.

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.“

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.“