9 things you need to do to prepare for an emergency when teaching online
1. Ethernet Cord: The first thing to do when teaching online is to HARDWIRE into your router! Sure you may get away with using your wi-fi connection, but it can lead to an unstable classroom experience. Even if things look okay on your end, they may not be okay on the students end. Your video or audio may cut out of freeze and you have no idea. Even if your router is in another room or on another floor of your house you CAN hardwire in, get a super duper long cord like this 100ft long Ethernet Cord this and plug it in before classes!
2. Extra Headset: Have an extra headset easily available in case anything goes wrong with your microphone/speakers during your class. This will allow you to quickly switch out your headset if needed. You never know when a headset will just stop working or get broken. Especially if you have kids, lol! I can tell you from experience that waking up and walking over to your desk to see your headset snapped in half is not fun. You can check out this blog on recommended headsets. My personal favorite headset is this one:
3. Extra batteries for mouse, keyboard, headset, etc.: Always have extra batteries laying around! This is especially important for online teaching. You can't exactly get up in the middle of a live class to go searching for batteries because your mouse has suddenly decided to stop working. I keep a couple of extra packs of batteries in my desk drawer for emergencies. Just make sure you don't tell your family they are there or you may end up with empty packages next time you go to grab one....don't ask me how I know.
4. Back up internet source: If you are able to have a secondary internet option this is ideal. Research what options you may have available to you now and get them set up in advance so you aren't scrambling when your internet goes down. Many people are able to use the hotspot on their phone or get a special hotspot from their cell phone carrier. Depending on your cell phone provider this may even be included in your plan already. Make sure you take the time to try it out and figure out how it works BEFORE you run into an emergency situation. If you are like me and live in the middle of nowhere and have no cell coverage, this option may not work for you. But be sure to check out #9 below if that is the case.
5. Back up power source: Another emergency you want to deal with is when your power goes out. Having a back up power source can keep you going for awhile until hopefully the power comes back on or you can get to another location. I have this one, it allows me to plug in my lights and computer. When the power goes out it kicks in and will keep things going for awhile.
6. Back up light source: You may want to have a back up light source as well. I have a USB ring light that I can hook into my laptop, this is great for when the power goes out or when I may need to move to another location due to an emergency. You can also get battery operated lights, flashlights, or battery powered lanterns that can be used in an emergency.
7. Back up computer: Obviously you probably don't want to spend a ton of money on a brand new computer to use as a back-up. But next time you or someone you know upgrades a computer. hold on to the old one and keep it to use as a back-up for emergencies. I keep this in my Bug Out Bag to make it easy to get to in emergency situations.
8. Bug Out Bag: Prepare an emergency bag so that if you have an emergency and need to move to another location you can just grab it and go. This way you aren't wasting precious time trying to get power cords and lights and computer accessories. I have kept my old headset, external camera, etc and put them in my emergency bag. I also have some basic supplies I can use in classes. I also keep a plain colored sheet and a name sign so I can make a quick background where ever I may end up needing to go. Also think about having car charger adapters in case you need to teach from your car.
9. Back up Location: One of the most important things you want to think about is where can you go if you need to leave your home/office where you typically teach. Whether it is due to power or internet outages or weather related issues you need a back up plan. Since I am unable to get cell service and use a hotspot at my house, I have had to do this a few times! I am able to drive up the road into my neighborhood where I can get a cell signal and use a hotspot from there. I set up my classroom in my car by hanging a sheet from the windows to create a background and use the car charger to keep the lights and laptop going. Students have no idea! Other teachers have used wi-fi in places like Starbucks or McDonald's. I had one teacher share a brilliant idea during a workshop that I did as well. She contacted a local hotel and asked if she could use their business center if there was ever an emergency and they said that wouldn't be a problem at all. You may also want to find a friend or family member nearby who wouldn't mind you coming to their house if needed in an emergency.
I hope these ideas help you start planning for emergencies when teaching online. The key is to think about and come up with a plan NOW, when you aren't in panic mode. It is hard to think straight when you encounter an emergency and know kids are waiting for you to get into class. If you plan in advance it is much easier to jump into action and utilize the things you have set up for emergencies. If you have any other tips or ideas for emergency situations please share with us below!
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