Losing Internet While Teaching Remotely

Written on
October 3, 2020
Peter Hostrawser

As I started this school year at a new high school this year, we began by remote learning.  The teachers were required to come into the school and teach students remotely from inside the school building.  I realize many people have differing opinions on this.  I didn’t mind it.  I felt like I was able to get out of my home and “go to” work and it was nice after 6 months working from home.

Fast forward into the final week of September.  We go hybrid.  The school has a great plan and everyone has worked hard to make ¼ of the students who choose to come in a real possibility.  The schedule goes like this: ¼ of the students are on each day by alphabet on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.   Wednesdays are a deep cleaning day for the school and everyone works from home, including the teachers.  The schedule works for me!

As the first Wednesday of me working from home comes around, I have my office set up and ready to go.  I am excited to work from home this day.  I see my family, my dogs, and I have a killer set up with my desktop and a few screens to maximize interaction with students.  It’s all a go for the day. 


Then the electricity flickers and my router goes down.


I was currently in the middle of 5th period Personal Finance class.  We were starting a huge project.  Students were asking questions and getting a good start to it.  Poof.  I was thrown off the Google Meet.  I panicked.  My son came downstairs and looked a bit frazzled.  He is in high school and remote learning as well.  He fortunately was at the end of one of his courses.  


I was in intense problem solving mode.


I had my son run downstairs and reboot the router.  This usually takes about 10 minutes.  I kept my eye on the clock to see if I would have time to make it back into the class.  Would my students still be there?  Do they understand the project?  What is going on in that Google Meet class that I should be leading?  I pulled out my phone and went to my data and began starting up the Google Meet on that.  My signal in my home was spotty.  I got through but it was very glitchy.  Not good.   I went downstairs to check on the router to see if it was rebooting.  It was… ever so slowly. 


Finally I saw the light blink signaling it was connected.  I ran upstairs, jumped on the nearest laptop and connected to Google Meet.  I clicked on the class link right as the final minute was happening.  The students were all still there!  The class technically ended and one student was taking the lead and letting all the other students know that time had expired.  I heard her say “If Mr. Hostrawser was here, he would say we could go now so we should all go to our 6th period course now.”  I chimed in and said thank you to the remaining student for their patience and flexibility.  They responded with thanks and no problems. 


This is why I empathize with students when they say they are having technical issues and are late or miss a remote class.


It actually happened to me.  I felt the fear, frustration, anxiety, and uncertainty they feel when something goes down outside of their control during a class period.  That pressure is intense.  I explained to the students the next day how I felt during this challenge.  I empathize with them.  They now know I know how they feel sometimes when technology fails in class.  It has made me a better teacher AND student with my classes.  

We are in a new time of education where there is a lot of unknown.  Even in our delivery methods.  This is why I am super flexible and accommodating to ALL students during this time.  I encourage all teachers to practice empathy with their students no matter how frustrating it is during the pandemic.  It WILL make you a better educator.  Your students WILL engage more.  The classroom / remote learning environment WILL get stronger if you do. 

Story note:  My son found out why the electricity flickered that day.  It was a windy day and a branch landed on an electric wire and blew a transformer starting a small fire.  We were lucky.  Some people in our neighborhood was without power for over an hour.

Peter Hostrawser
Creator of Disrupt Education
My value is to help you show your value. #Blogger | #KeynoteSpeaker | #Teacher | #Designthinker | #disrupteducation
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