Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Teaching – My Second Career by Mike Siekkinen

I became a teacher as a second career. As a retired military man, I had the opportunity to teach in the Navy on two separate shore duty assignments. I taught both enlisted and officers on subjects ranging from leadership, procedures to operate complex electronic systems and submarine navigation. Having enjoyed teaching, I thought the next logical step was to teach when retiring from the Navy.

I had a baptism of fire, so to speak, with regards to entering public education. Having completed all of the requirements to become a public school teacher, minus student teaching, I was hired to teach 8th grade history at a nearby middle school. I had high expectations and was excited to begin teaching. I thought with my teaching experience, quick wit and humor (I could always make people laugh), that teaching "kids" would be a breeze. I envisioned the students "flocking" to me and sitting at my feet while I filled their heads with knowledge and they walked away smiling and thanking me. Looking back, I call this my "kumbaya" teaching fantasy.

Real life teaching was not quite like I thought it would be. Many times I thought "What have I gotten myself into?" that first year. But you learn, sometimes by the mistakes that you make. You do have those moments when everything works that you try and before you know it the year is over. It gets easier for most of us and you find your strengths and weakness and what you can do best. Don't be discouraged, most of us "make it out alive!” The second (and then third, fourth, etc.) years are easier and keep getting better!

How did you come to teaching?

Dr. Mike Siekkinen, a retired U.S. Navy submariner, became a teacher as a second career. He teaches history at St Marys Middle School as well as Adult and Career Education at Valdosta State in Georgia.