A hands-on view of teaching

Micklinghoff faces many challenges as a teacher and leader of MCHS

TJ Haws, Staff Writer

Teaching a high school class can be difficult, but teaching a high school engineering class can be even harder, considering how hands-on of a class that it is. McHenry Community High School engineering teacher Mr. Russell Micklinghoff has been teaching engineering at MCHS for quite some time now, and has had his fair share of challenges to overcome. To top it all off, the world is in the middle of a global pandemic, which will bring out a new variety of challenges and issues that no one has had to deal with before. Overcoming challenges through his journey of education is nothing new for Micklinghoff, whether it be getting into the education field, dealing with remote learning, or just teaching in general.

Working up to becoming a teacher can be a very difficult task. It involves lots of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. The first big challenge that Micklinghoff endured on his teaching journey involved money.“The biggest challenge was financing college.  My family was not in a position to offer monetary help and scholarship opportunities were fewer for community college.  In the end financing came in the form of loans and working multiple jobs to get through it all,” Micklinghoff explains. Overcoming these challenges is what got him into a teaching job, but that came with its own set of challenges, like, working on my curricular and time management.” he says. “In many ways they are still my thorn.” Some challenges can be very hard to overcome, and may stick around for a while.

After the first few years of teaching, Micklinghoff had gotten the hang of it. This doesn’t mean that he didn’t have any new challenges that he had to face. One of the newest challenges he’s had to face is bureaucracy. I am not a fan of extra work and frivolous activity.  Having to follow protocol in any job because you are paid to do so is difficult when you don’t agree with the task itself or to procedure to follow it through,” Micklinghoff explains. Micklinghoff has shown to overcome some of the hardest challenges to face, and this is a clear example. Over the years of Micklinghoff’s teaching experience, he has learned how to overcome any sort of challenge.

Although teaching is a challenging job, this year has been especially difficult. Teaching such a hands-on class completely through remote learning has a whole new set of challenges for a teaching to go through. One of the biggest challenges was the transition from in-person to online last year. “So many  of the issues that occured in the spring stemmed from student lack of engagement,” Micklinghoff explains. This was an issue for lots of teachers last year, but with Micklinghoff’s class being such an interactive class, it was especially difficult for him. With a whole new plan the administration made for the 2020-2021 school year, those challenges weren’t nearly as common, but new challenges arose. The very personal job I love has morphed into screen time and keystrokes.  There is only a shadow of a connection that was once the brightest beacon,” Micklinghoff says. It seems as though teachers, like Micklinghoff, are losing the passion for teaching, solely due to the fact that it has become all virtual. With the return of in-person school coming in the near future, teachers like Micklinghoff will be able to teach the way they have known and loved.

Overcoming all of these challenges has really shaped the way Micklinghoff teaches today. I have become more resolute or harder, not academically per say but more thick-skinned. I have adopted new uses for technology and have a better understanding of how to minimize the damage but I still feel like the methodology is not as effective.”  Overcoming challenges is hard to do, but once they are overcome, a lot can be learned and improved from them, which Micklinghoff has shown time and time again.

Teaching is a very hard job, but Micklinghoff knows what he’s doing. From being a first-year teacher, to becoming a well-experienced teacher, to even teaching during a pandemic, it seems as though Micklinghoff has been through everything. Pushing through challenges in life will often lead to a positive outcome, and Micklinghoff is a perfect example of that.