In the spooky spirit of October, I want to share a scary story with you. Remember those school nightmares you used to have growing up? You forgot your locker combo. You had a final but didn’t study. Well, teachers also have school nightmares. One of my nightmares was often a reality: we had one printer/copier for the entire school and it broke. But now I have a new nightmare: I’m teaching remotely and my internet crashes.

Yes, this is the 21st century, yes I live in Silicon Valley, yes people are talking about the internet of things, self-driving cars, and general AI. But can we get reliable internet!? Not always!

So let me give you my tips to fix both nightmares:


Welp, there goes your Zoom class. Luckily, by this point in distance learning everyone is used to the occasional crash. The tricky part is that as a teacher when you crash, a student is RANDOMLY assigned to be the host. It creates some very hilarious scenarios (much less hilarious when the kids are super young, I’ve heard). Here’s what I do when it crashes:

  • Try to log into my Zoom class on my phone. Yes, this uses data, but usually my internet comes back within 5 minutes.
  • Ask whoever is host to give you host control back. Luckily the kids have been great sports about this – I usually just joke that if they want to remain host then they have to grade all the work from today.
  • Have all of my assignments pre-scheduled or posted on Google Classroom. And share the agenda with the kids in the beginning of class. This way, if the kids lose you for a few minutes, they at least still have access to the work. Or if your internet is REALLY dead and you need another teacher to cover, the kids have their work.

Now let’s talk about that in-person nightmare, even though (hopefully) it doesn’t apply to you at the moment.


Most teachers learn to navigate this one the hard way, early on in their teaching careers. The worst is when you’re so swamped with work that you didn’t prep materials until the night before and are running late the next morning and have to print everything before class but the printer/copier is in use or broken. What do you do!? What if you NEED that and you don’t have a back-up plan!? It’s truly an awful feeling, and I don’t have any great in-the-moment fixes (show a video and do a discussion!?), but I do have a few things you can do to prevent this:

  • Print/copy the day before (or earlier). Sounds straight-forward, but I can’t tell you how long I didn’t do this during my teaching career! Whoops!
  • Use a back-up printer… I worked at a school where there was a second secret printer in one of the administrative offices. Sometimes the art teachers also have an extra. Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures. Get on the good side of those people with printers!
  • Go digital! I’ll be honest, I was all about pen-and-paper work before remote teaching, but now that I have gone digital, I can see the benefits of this for in-person teaching, even for math class.
  • Write the problems on big poster paper. You may have time but just not a printer, so write out those problems on poster paper or on the whiteboard if no one else is using it before you. I once spent an entire evening at home stapling packets because the copier was out of staples. Fun fact: I learned my dog HATES the sound of the stapler!

All in all, things happen, but YOU and perhaps more importantly, YOUR STUDENTS, are adaptable. Learning can happen in many ways. Embrace the journey and roll with those setbacks.

Wishing you high-speed, uninterrupted internet service,


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