Mila Kuchta: First-Year Teacher, Again

Feel free to disagree with me, but I think that no matter how much you prepare for something, you’re never truly ready for it. In my Shared Blog from last year, I reflected on everything that had led up to my LV experience: going to Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, being a social studies education major, having experience working with children, etc., and yet, teaching was quite difficult. I often felt overwhelmed and frankly unprepared. Granted, not only was I a first-year teacher but I was also forced to navigate the realities of a virtual/hybrid model due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I remember frequently telling the students that I would much rather be in the classroom with them than having to teach online. And here we are!

Returning to San Miguel for a second year of service honestly wasn’t a difficult decision to make. I was looking forward to a more “normal” teaching experience, the chance to improve my skills and curriculum, as well as the opportunity to expand my role in supporting students. Not to mention, getting to decorate a classroom! At the end of the day, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I wanted to continue to see my students learn and grow and be a better teacher for the new ones. With that being said, I cannot lie and say that it has been easy. Every day is like a roller coaster with highs and lows. I’ve even had many people ask me whether last year or this year has been more difficult. To which I usually respond, “I don’t know. They’re difficult for different reasons. I’m basically a first-year teacher, again.”

My weekends still generally consist of grading and planning for the school week, but now it is because I am adapting and improving my previous lessons and materials for a face-to-face setting. It has been a joy to incorporate more student collaboration, but with that also comes more behavior/classroom management. My favorite joke to make is that I can no longer just mute the students when they are being loud or disruptive. All in all, I am happy to be back in the classroom with students, but it has been exhausting and challenging for many reasons.

I’ve wanted to be a teacher for practically my entire life. Now that I am one, I don’t know what else could’ve truly prepared me for it. I guess I can only hope that as I continue to gain experience, I’ll feel more prepared and comfortable with teaching. At least, that’s what everyone tells me will happen. For now, I am cherishing the successful moments—big and small—and a lot of laughs. Middle school students are by far the coolest people around, and I am grateful for the opportunity to teach them.

Kamila (Mila) Kuchta is a second-year LV serving at San Miguel School in Washington, D.C. She is a 2020 graduate of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

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