Behind the scenes of online learning: teacher edition

Samantha Michaels

It is no question that COVID-19 has presented the educational system with a tremendous number of new challenges. Teachers and administrators are working harder than ever to create a better work environment for their students. However, it is easy to forget that our teachers are going through the pandemic alongside us, and that many of them seek to improve the remote learning environment for both themselves and their children. To give students a better understanding of our teacher’s situations, a few faculty members share their experiences of balancing online teaching with life at home. 


David Nash

Physics teacher David Nash can speak to both sides of the Tamalpais Union High School District’s (TUHSD) online program, as he has witnessed his children attend their courses at High School 1327 (formerly known as Drake High School) along with teaching at Redwood himself. Although his daughter graduated last year and is now attending the University of California, Davis, Nash and his wife continue to limit the amount of distractions for their 11th grade son by leaving their home during the school day. 

“Both my wife and I are going into school to give my son space. It’s all predicated on the fact that we have older kids and they don’t need any help.,” Nash said. “I feel I’m really fortunate that we have a high school age student and a now graduated student, and my heart goes out to those who have grade school kids.”

Despite being able to teach from Redwood, Nash’s empty classroom and the limited amount of student participation he gets in his Zoom calls makes him long for the feeling of teaching in a normal classroom environment again.

“The surroundings help but the bummer is there is just such a deadening of the interactions you normally get,” Nash said. “I might have a quiet class and a more noisy class and a couple average ones [in person] but online, everyone’s so quiet.”


Catherine Flores

English teacher Catherine Flores has also found going into her classroom a pleasant escape from the repetition of everyday life at home. However, with three kids to look after who live in two separate households, Flores is rarely able to teach from her classroom at Redwood.

“On Thursday and Friday, I’m able to go into school, and that’s been super helpful because there, I’m drawing clear boundaries,” Flores said. “[However] the rest of the week it’s really tough to draw those boundaries because [work and home] blend in together.” 

Flores is also tasked with keeping track of all her children’s overlapping schools schedules. With each child having lunch and breaks at different times, creating a co-existing environment that fits everyone’s daily agenda was a tough task. Flores says the looming transformation into a hybrid model of learning poses a threat to the flow of online learning they have recently established at home. 

“We have a very clear pattern and there’s continuity of learning. We’ve adjusted as a family to all three different schedules here for the four of us. … I don’t even know how I would manage that with the other two still in distance learning,” Flores said.


Katie Slattery

With two elementary schoolers at home, the potential hybrid model is also a very stressful thought for Living Earth and Link Crew teacher Katie Slattery. Slattery lives outside of the TUHSD, making it very difficult to be in close proximity of her boys if we were to switch to a hybrid schedule next semester. Furthermore, both of her children require additional attention due to the fact that they attend a Spanish dual immersion school, adding an extra language barrier.

“All of their work is in Spanish. My older son usually has a page of math [homework] everynight and we’re trying to Google translate it to help him,” Slattery said.

Finding this method to be ineffective, she has recently hired a Spanish-speaking aide to help her children with their assignments and also to stay on track while she is teaching during the school week. 


Although it is not an easy task being a student during distanced learning, it is important to remember that our teachers and administrators are in the same boat. Balancing the difficulties of a new normal with the responsibilities of being a parent can be an incredibly rigorous and underappreciated task. Our teachers duties as a parent do not stop when our Zoom calls begin.