• Rest for the Weary

    Posted by Michael Brinkley on 8/17/2018

    I am a not stop kind of person.  With four kids involved in many things, I find that I don't have time to rest and just to "chill."  Correction...I do have time, I don't take the time.  I recently read an article that talked about productivity and rest.  It stated that the person who worked 45 hours a week was as productive, if not more, than the person who worked 60 hours per week. 

    Like a ton of bricks, it hit me.  I frequently find myself working all the time, not just on school stuff, but volunteer activities, "honey-do" projects, and other things that prevent me from taking time to unwind.  I have committed to taking time to stop, look, and listen.  I want to take a nap on Sunday afternoon, take a drive for no purpose, take a walk in the park without watching practice.  Our bodies are designed to rest, and I am going to have to give it a go. 

    Kids need rest too!  They are so often stretched thin and over calendared.  Try to build in time for your kids to be kids and to do nothing in between the doing something.  

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  • When it's time to change...

    Posted by Michael Brinkley on 7/24/2018 12:10:00 AM

    ...you've to rearrange who you are and what you're gonna be...  How many of you remember that old song from "The Brady Bunch?"  It has often been my life's anthem because I love and embrace change and new things.  My wife is a saint because she rides with me when I decide we need to change things...and I do love change. 

    This year, change has come again for me.  I have moved from teaching GT ELAR to Advanced Science.  I love teaching English and Reading...it was one of my college majors.  When Mrs. Craighead called me into her office on the last day of school and told me I would be teaching science, my response was that it did not matter what subject I taught, just give me some kids to teach.  

    And that is how I look at it.  I can teach almost any subject in the building, and that does not matter to me.  What matters most is that I teach kids.  It is an amazing blessing to have 100+ kids show up and want to be taught.  It is my hope that I teach them what they need to know to be successful in life, not just science.  

    As I make this change this year, I am excited to be able to bring to life the love of learning, desire to create new knowledge, and kids who are destined to change the world.  

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  • #Harvey

    Posted by Michael Brinkley on 8/26/2017

    I grew up in Freeport, TX, about 60 miles to the south of Houston and about 5 minutes from the murky waters of The Gulf of Mexico.  At the beginning of every summer, we began our hurricane readiness procedures.  Mama would get maps to track the potential storms.  Daddy would make sure the trees were trimmed.  We would stock up on masking tape for the windows, sterilize empty milk jugs and add extra water to them, and mama would always buy a little extra nonperishable food each time she went to the grocery store.  These and many more preparations, just in case.  Only a couple of times did we have to evacuate from a storm, and only ever received minimal damage.  As I remember my friends and family in South Texas, I don't envy the hardships they are facing this weekend, and I send my love and prayers their way.   

     

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  • Bringing Up the Future

    Posted by Michael Brinkley on 8/23/2017 11:25:00 PM

    I remember my student teaching year vividly.  I was not nearly as good as what I thought I was.  My goal was to change every kid in the world and the face of education for everyone in the world.  I was going to set the world on fire with my knowledge and skills.  All I did that year was make a bunch of kids sleep with their eyes open.  I am so thankful for Ms. Franke, Mrs. Walker, and Ms. West for putting up with my ignorance and guiding me, sometimes not so gently, down the right path.  After surviving that year of student teaching, I vowed to improve my craft so that I may have the opportunity to shape student teachers and help them become the best teacher they can be.  Since 1996 as I teacher I have had the chance to supervise several student teachers and interns, some of whom have become remarkable teachers.  This year, I am blessed once again to be a mentor to a student teacher.  

    The kids have all met Mr. Dean Latta.  He is a student at The University of North Texas preparing to become a teacher.  During this fall semester, he is doing what the university calls PDS-1.  This means he is taking some classes on his campus, and he spends 2 days a week with us on our campus.  During the fall semester, he will spend some time working with small groups, getting to know about the daily operations of the classroom, doing a few model lessons for his class, and of course some mundane tasks that every newbie gets to do.  In January, he will gradually take over the classes. With my help and under my direction, Mr. Latta will be planning and leading the instruction.  

    Being a student teacher is not easy. It is a 40+ hour week job with no pay. I have full confidence that Mr. Latta is going to do a fabulous job with us this year.  Thank you for allowing your kids to be a part of his education.  

     

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  • First Day of School

    Posted by Michael Brinkley on 8/21/2017 4:15:00 AM

    I love the first day of school so much that it should be a National Holiday.  I can remember nearly every first day I ever had.  When most kids were dreading that moment that school started, I was counting down the days.  New shoes, new shirts, new pants, and in my younger days, new crayons.  To this day, there is something magical about new crayons. I get a new box that I keep only for myself.  I admit it...I am a crayon snob.

    It is more than the new stuff.  A new year brings new opportunity.  It doesn't matter how much I messed up last year, this year I have a chance to do better, be better, grow more, and learn more.  As I type this, in the wee hours of the morning, I know that the first day of school is just minutes away, and with that day will come many emotions.  There will be raucous laughter, unspoken fears, grins from ear to ear, and probably a few tears.  And that is just from me.  It is an emotional time for moms and dads as we watch our kids grow up...this year is especially emotional for me, for last week my wife and I took our daughter to start her first year in college at East Texas Baptist University, which is 2 hours and 29 minutes from our home.  It will be hard this morning when we take our traditional "First Day of School" pictures, and for the first time, she will not be in them.  I will be so excited in class today that I won't be able to find my train of thought, and my students, oh my poor students, will wonder how on earth they let me be a teacher.  My throat will be sore, my mouth will be dry, and all the cheek muscles will ache from smiling all day.  There are a thousand things I want to remember and ten thousand things I will forget.  

    The start of a new school year is wonderful for me, for I have done so many years.  13 in public school, 4 in college, and now 22 as a public educator.  It never gets easier or less emotional.  So bear with me on this sacred day.  

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  • Why Bacon?

    Posted by Michael Brinkley on 8/18/2017

    I do love bacon.  I find it to be the perfect food because of its versatility.  Bacon works for breakfast as a side for eggs, pancackes, or anything else...or even as the main course.  It is good on a sandwich or salad at lunch or dinner.  Bacon can be used to wrap shrimp, sausage, or anything else that needs wrapping.  Bacon is perfect for the burger, on the fries, and even dipped in the ice cream or chocolate.  Bacon can be made of just about anything, including tofu...though I am not a fan of tofu bacon. (I eat turkey bacon because it is heart healthy).  

    Bacon goes beyond being the perfect food; it is engaging.  Kids need to be engaged with learning, and I use Bacon as an engagement piece.  They think that it funny that have a bacon tribute wall in my classroom.  They enjoy my bacon socks, puzzle, games, and even when I use the words "Makin' Bacon" as my call back signal.  I want kids to have fun in class, and this is one way that I do that.  I have thought about changing to something different.  I have a buddy that uses the Texas Rangers as his engage with kids, but bacon tastes better than a baseball.  Several of my teacher friends use animal themes, but my Pinterest account does not have room to post the cute teacher things...it has too many bacon recipes.  

     

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  • Being GT--Repeat

    Posted by Michael Brinkley on 8/14/2017

    This is a repeat of an earlier blog post.   It is important enough to repost.  

    There are many assumptions made about being GT that are not always true.  One is that GT kids are smarter than everyone else, but GT has very little to do with raw intelligence.  It has more to do with the way in which one processes and generates thought.  With GT students, I try to encourage them to capitalize on the divergent thinking that is innate within them. 

    GT is not about more work.  Many kids say that they don't want to be GT because there is more work involved.  That is quite to the contrary.  The GT student in my class will have no more work than the students in any other class.  GT students' work is tailor made for the way the process information.  "Work" has become a word with a negative connotation in this culture.  We should embrace learning beyond work and long for the "experience." 

    GT students are not always "A" students.  Many research studies have indicated that the GT student is often the one that struggles in school to pass. Not because s/he is not "smart" enough to get the work done, but because they often find little meaning or value in what they are being asked to do, or on the contrary cannot figure out what to do because they over complicate things.  

    There are many misconceptions about students who are GT, and though "they" have profiles for students who are GT, one thing is certain:  each child is different and has a different set of learning needs.  My goal as a teacher is to ensure that each child has a meaningful relationship with an adult on campus who embraces them and to give each one of my students and "Literary Experience" that they may carry with them always.  

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  • Missing the Mark

    Posted by Michael Brinkley on 8/14/2017

    At the beginning of each school year, I have grandiose dreams of having a blog.  But I seem to fail by September.  This year is no different in my lofty goal, but it is my hope that I will keep up with my blog and try to post once a week.  I do the same thing with my personal blog, but I don't keep up with it either.  I love to write, but sharing my writing is frequently a challenge for me.  I never feel like it is good enough for another to read.  I second guess myself, fearing that I may say something to offend someone, or accidentally make an error in spelling or mechanics.  Having said that, I am committed to trying this again, in the hope, I can make it past September with a weekly blog.

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  • With Freedom Comes Responsibility

    Posted by Michael Brinkley on 9/18/2016 11:00:00 PM

    I was once chatting with some parents about their kid's progress.  The kid was a great kid that worked hard, made good grades, and was generally a teacher pleaser.  Mom was concerned that he did not take responsibility for doing anything that he was supposed to do.  The reason he was successful in school was that she was on him like flies on a dead june bug.  She just couldn't understand why he would not take responsibility for getting his work done.  I suggested that we bring him in and ask him, so we did.  The kids gave me the typical "I don't know" when we asked why he wasn't taking responsibility.  As we sat there and explored the whys and hows of life. the truth surfaced.  He did not have to take responsibility because mom didn't require him to...or even let him for that matter.  Anytime he had something to do, she would be on top of it making sure he did it first, fast, and right. Though he was making good grades, everyone in the house was miserable.  I suggested to mom that she spend 3 weeks and not mention anything to him about school work...let him do it. At the end of the first week, he had missed a couple of assignments and failed a test.  She was livid at him, me and everyone else.  After I peeled her off the ceiling, I convinced her to experiment another week, and lo and behold, things were better.  By the end of the third week, the boy was doing as well as he was before, and everyone was happy.  She began to assist him with his work, but it became his idea more than hers.  The time they spent together on homework was pleasant for everyone. 

    I am not saying that parents should ignore their kids and the school work that comes with them, but I do think we have to begin to back off our kids and let them see what they can do.  Help them, guide them, and lead them to find a system that works for not only them, but respects the rest of the family.  And when the kid doesn't do what is required, have consequences for that, but let the natural consequences happen, for many times it will motivate them to do better. Sixth grade is a safe time to let kids to explore because the consequences are not as serious.  So often we wait until Junior High or even High School to let our kid learn to be more responsible, but we have to remember 3 things:  1.  It doesn't happen overnight, 2. We have to let them be responsible so they can learn to be responsible and 3.  With freedom comes responsibility and with responsibility comes freedom.  

    Thanks for reading my blog.  I sometimes get on a soapbox, often inspired by one or more of my own children and my own misguided intentions.  

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  • Hope

    Posted by Michael Brinkley on 9/14/2016

    Emily B

    This is Emily.  She is a proud member of the Class of 2020 at Wylie High School.  She loves her dog, obviously, her family, and God.  She also has an ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder.  She is socially awkward, struggles with reading, has a difficulty controlling her emotions, is easily over stimulated, and works really hard to make it through the day. 

    But she makes it. Everyday.  She doesn't give up.  Her favorite word is 

    HOPE

    She loves the word so much that she wants a tattoo that says it.  She believes in hope.  She knows that she needs it, especially on those days when life is a struggle, she has hope for tomorrow, a plan for the future...she isn't sure what that plan is yet, but she knows there is one for her.  

    Emily gives me hope.  I have the blessing of getting out of bed each day, and I know pretty much what the day will be like.  I go to work, teach my kiddos, live life with distractions everywhere, and I make it.  She gets out of bed everyday with the struggle of knowing she is going to have to hold herself together just to make it.  She doesn't know what is coming next sometimes or how what happens will affect her.  She just holds on to hope.  

    When asks what she wants to do with her life, her response is this:  "I want to give everyone hope because they need it to make it in life.  I have hope, and they should to."  

    I love you Emily Brinkley

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