Back to School: Online Teacher Edition


Are summer breaks getting shorter or is it just me? I have been an online teacher for nine years. This is the second year I have had an official summer break, totaling five and a half weeks. Let me tell you, it flew by. I truly enjoy teaching, but if I am being honest, I am not refreshed and ready to return to work just yet.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a teacher. I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Secondary English Education and in true military spouse fashion, I finished student teaching, got married, graduated college (missed my ceremony to attend my husband’s), attended his graduation and commissioning, and we were off to our first duty station all in the same month. While teaching has proven to be a good job for the military lifestyle, it does come with challenges. We do not get to choose if we move at a convenient time to the school year, we must get re-certified in every state we move to, but…that conversation is for a different day.

Classroom Set-up

At our first duty station, I taught third through fifth grade at a Charter School. I really enjoyed setting up my classroom both years I was there. One year I did an underwater ocean theme, and another year, I had students’ pictures all over the classroom.

At my current job, I typically have at least 10-15 classrooms. Each one must be set-up with required items and then added personalized things, such as welcome videos, study guides, banners, weekly announcements…it looks a lot different but I like to personalize my classroom and lessons with my Bitmoji, Ellen-moji’s I created, and photos.


At our second duty station, I taught ninth through twelfth grade English and electives with one other teacher. Keeping track of rosters, assessment guides, curriculum, my library of books, etc…looked different than it does for my online classrooms.

The past few years online, I have taught 6th, 7th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade English. My main client is in Louisiana, even though I often have students in classes from other states as well. I teach live lessons for four sections of students each week, and prepare three grade levels for state standardized testing. Staying on top of things is crucial.

In my time before the students return to school, I make sure my office space is ready. Each time we move I get to set up a new work station in our house and figure out all those nuances. Beautiful binders and organized computer files are a love language. I think my husband and I bond over this trait.

Professional Development

Just like teachers who are in the classroom, us online teachers attend regular content meetings and professional development training. I’ve had the opportunity to lead some of these trainings and meetings, and I get a lot of joy talking about improving the experience for our students and creating a personalized and engaging virtual environment for them. We set professional goals, and have observations and reviews just like other teachers, so documenting those components of our job is important.

For military spouses, keeping track of professional development is important,   because often it is a factor in renewing or receiving teacher licensure when you relocate.


The best part of my job is making those connections with students and co-workers. It can be hard to make those connections when you don’t see your students face-to-face, sometimes ever. I try to create a fun environment for learning, ask about their interests, and get to know them beyond their student side.

 Another school year is beginning. And while I’m not quite ready to give up my lazy summer days, I am ready to make an impact in some of my students’ lives. Let’s go!

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Ellen Kehs
Ellen Kehs was born and raised in Evanston, Illinois where she met and later married her high school sweetheart, Mason. Together they’ve traveled the world, most recently touching down in Florida in June 2022. She’s a mom to three little boys, Theodore (eleven), Woodrow (nine) and Maximus (six). Life is never boring with her boys! Ellen loves being a military spouse and she embodies the “bloom where you are planted” mentality. In addition to soaking up whatever current city she’s living in, she is passionate about reading and getting books in the hands of children, as well as helping other mamas connect with each other. She has a bachelor’s degree in secondary English education, a master’s degree in adolescent literacy and technology, and she teaches full-time online, in addition to being a stay-at-home mom. Her hobbies include, exploring, reading, swimming, napping, snapping pictures, playing games, baking, and loving on the little men in her life.