The distracting reality of online learning

As students and teachers settle into learning from the comfort of their homes, they must learn how to stay on task without letting their phones, pets, family members, or computers distract them. 

     In a classroom setting, students are accustomed to the constant reminders to not use phones during class or to stop playing games on their computer. While learning from the confines of their own homes, no one holds both students and teachers accountable for maintaining focus.

     One of the main distractions confronting students and teachers are pets. “Having a pet at home is definitely a distraction… During our [virtual] department meeting I realized subconsciously that I had been playing fetch with my dog and that others in the meeting could see me,” Upper School English teacher Mr. Jesse Sataloff said. “Although I was listening to the meeting, it could have been construed as me not paying attention.”

     Although Mr. Sataloff’s dog may distract him, Upper School Head Mr. Patrick Andrén understands that the current, difficult situation requires flexibility and patience.

     “Some of the distractions like family members and pets, you can’t eliminate,” Mr. Andrén said. If your dog has to go to the bathroom, then your dog has to go to the bathroom. If one of my kids busts through the door, then of course I have to address him.”

I have run into issues where I will ask somebody a question, and I notice that they have not been paying attention for the last ten minutes.

Profe. Lluch

     Another obstacle students and teachers face is limiting the use of extraneous technology during a virtual class. “The main distractions are YouTube and being on your phone,” Fourth Former Jack Masse said. “Staying focused and avoiding the temptation of muting your microphone and going on YouTube or XBOX during class is a challenge.”

     Although most students are engaged during virtual classes, Upper School Spanish and Latin teacher Mr. Javier Lluch has noticed a few exceptions.

     “I have run into issues where I will ask somebody a question, and I notice that they have not been paying attention for the last ten minutes. They have no clue what has been said or what’s going on for ten minutes straight,” Profe. Lluch said. 

     To help combat distractions via technology, Mr. Andrén offered some advice.

Poll by Austin Zhuang ’22

     “I always try to set up my desk in a way that minimizes distractions. For me, like many people, my phone can be a distraction, so I go and put it in the back side of the room,” Mr. Andrén said.

     In many households, students’ brothers and sisters are learning virtually as well, which can make for a hectic environment. 

     “Having three other kids in the house at the same time all taking classes certainly makes it difficult,” Fifth Former Daniel Curran said. “It really shows you how much we took for granted being in a school environment like Haverford.”

     As students and teachers have to deal with the reality of being stuck inside their homes for the majority of the day, Mr. Andrén wants students to maintain a form of structure in their lives. 

     “We can control what we do in this [situation]. Making sure that you get enough sleep, that you find time to exercise, that you do those things to position yourself to perform. In all of this uncertainty, we have to focus on things that we can control in order to create the best outcomes.”

Author: Ryan Rodack '22

Ryan serves as an Editor-in-Chief for and is in his fourth year working for The Index. He previously served as the arts section editor and a managing editor. In the spring of 2021, Ryan earned recognition from the Scholastic Writing Awards for for his piece features piece, “Mr. Andrén pursues his dream job.” Ryan most frequently covers the sports, features, and news sections in his writing.