April 26, 2023
Teaching is much more difficult than most people are aware of. Here at HHS, we have excellent teachers and I wanted to spotlight one of mine. He goes by Mr. Mikkelson and his first name is Nels. He’s an English teacher and this year’s Journalism teacher for the school newspaper. And he doesn’t just teach. He has a life outside the classroom. Most teachers probably keep their outside life private. I wanted to interview Mr. Mikkelson about his life outside school, in addition to learning more about his thoughts on teaching.
High school students can oftentimes be immature– messing around, not doing work, or talking back. This can be challenging for teachers to deal with. It takes a capable teacher to be able to handle these challenges. Mr. Mikkelson is one of those teachers who can handle it.
He also teaches his students in a way that makes us interested in the lesson and pushes his students to work harder and give more effort, even if it seems like we don’t want that. Mr. Mikkelson not only pushes us to do better but he teaches well and notices when something is off with one of his students. He is able to connect and bond with us.
We students look for a teacher that teaches well and can work around their personal problems without judgment… Does the teacher notice when something’s wrong with us? If they are observant and care for their students they will notice. Mr. Mikkelson usually notices.
I first asked Mr. Mikkelson what got him into teaching…“I never thought about being a teacher. It wasn’t until I was 25 or 26 that I started taking it more seriously,” he said.
I also asked what inspires him as a teacher. Mr. Mikkelson stated, “When a student goes beyond what they think they can do and succeeds. Or when I see another teacher who is good at inspiring students. These things inspire me.”
When I asked Mr. Mikkelson about the obstacles he has overcome as a teacher he had this to say: “Knowing when to draw the line. Learning how to be organized. A good teacher must be very organized on several levels. There’s a reason a lot of teachers take a nap after work… it’s not an easy job…”
As a student I can understand being a teacher is very hard and not all people are fit for it. Some people get stressed because of how the students treat the teacher or how the students mess around too much. I can attest to the fact that Mr. Mikkelson is a great teacher because he is patient and doesn’t let the students walk over him which makes a student have more respect towards him. He pushes you and makes you want to do better.
What does a good day at school look like for Mr. Mikkelson?
“To be honest, most days at school are good days to me. I know it probably would shock my students to know that, but it’s true. I love my job, and love teaching here at HHS. It’s been very fulfilling for me. If I were to give a couple of examples that really ‘brighten my day,’ I’d say it’s when a student finally understands a difficult concept, or when a failing student works their butt off and is able to pass and feel proud of their hard work. I love seeing students get better, grow, develop, and become more insightful. This is all good stuff to me.”
Is Mr. Mikkelson happy that he chose a teaching career? Well, he had this to say…
“I feel grateful and blessed to have fallen into this career. I’ve never regretted it, even on some of the really rough days. I love teaching and can’t think of another job that I’d like more or that is more fulfilling…”
Most teachers have 2 lives. Their work life and their personal life. Sometimes they’re connected when a teacher tells us something that is unrelated to school: something from their personal life.
I asked him what kinds of things he likes to do outside of school. “I love to travel, read, and write poetry. I love hanging out with my kids, whether it’s playing a sport outside, taking a hike, reading to them, or watching a movie. Although most of my friends are not local, I try to visit them whenever I can.”
I asked Mr. Mikkelson where he’s traveled to. “I haven’t traveled anywhere for a long time but, when I was younger I visited China, Russia, Africa, Spain, Italy, and a couple of other places. It was a wonderful experience.”
When I asked about his family he said ” I have a 13-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son, and I was once married for several years.
I asked Mr. Mikkelson what kind of student he was in high school.
“I was a knucklehead troublemaker and a buffoon. I got decent grades. I didn’t really care about school back then. I did like sports though. I played football, basketball, track, and soccer. ”
My final question to Mr. Mikkelson was this: If you can pass on any wisdom to your students what would it be?
“Never give up, no matter how tough your life is. “
“Seek help when you know you need it.”
“And delete your social media. It’s the devil in disguise…”