The Accidental Teacher

Andrew Comeau
5 min readMay 19, 2018

This story was originally published in May 2018.

My name is Andrew Comeau and I am … a public school teacher?

I say it that way because It’s been a study in irony for me. If you told me just a couple years ago that I’d be teaching a nighttime programming class for vocational students, I’d have laughed. When others suggested I should be a teacher, I said it wasn’t for me.

Then when I was told that a new programming course was needed in the local area and realized I had the choice of designing and teaching it myself or hoping someone else did it well, I automatically said Yes.

Image by Alexas Fotos from Pixabay

It quickly became my life. I’ve left jobs that demanded less of me than this, citing work-life balance. When I found myself on 1 a.m. conference calls at a previous job, I took it as a sign that things had gotten out of control at that company.

Then, during the first week of classes last August, I woke up in the early morning hours and realized I was talking in my sleep about programming principles and my cat was on the bed next to me listening curiously. This job has shown up in my dreams more often than my last three jobs combined. This time around, I took it as a good sign.

I’ve worn many career hats over the years — programmer, consultant, author, engineer — but this is the role that is currently eclipsing everything else in a way that none of the others have.

The difference is that teaching is more than just my current job or career choice. It’s my current mission and the next step in using the skills that I’ve been developing since I was a teenager.

For the most part, I’m actually self-taught in technology. In high school, I got access to one of the old Tandy color computers and started teaching myself the old BASIC language because it was fun. I spent more time working on my college programming classes than the Accounting courses I was actually majoring in.

Over the years, I moved more and more into technology, taking on unofficial support responsibilities and then working my way into the I.T. field and then into my first official programming position, still mostly learning from being able to demonstrate my experience.

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Andrew Comeau

Programmer, consultant and technical author. Author of "MySQL Explained". See more of my work on my site at ComeauSoftware.com.