Plan B

One of my favourite television shows ever was “The Practice”. It was about a law firm and the discussion often showed the strategy that goes behind developing a court case.

They also had a “Plan B” to bring into play when it was necessary and the regular course of action wasn’t going to work.

As teachers, I think we all have a Plan B in our playbook.

It’s kept for those out of the ordinary events.

  • when half your class is dismissed early for an event – play, sports travel, etc.
  • when you leave early for an event – play, sports travel, etc.
  • when the technology that you’re planning to use fails or is not available
  • when you’re sick and you can’t send in a regular lesson
  • and I’m sure that you could add your own

I can remember in high school when the big blizzard hit and buses were cancelled for days. We town kids went into school to see what school without the bused kids would be like. Rather than being allowed to roam the halls, we were all herded up and sent to the gym. Phys Ed classes were doing square dancing at the time and it became our Plan B.

In these COVID days and teaching at home, there may be another event to gum up the works – when your internet access fails.

Last week, I had blogged about a local elementary school teacher whose internet access had died and so she went and taught at a local Tim Horton’s parking lot glumming onto their free WIFI. Not to be outdone, Aviva Dunsiger had run into a similar circumstance and went remote herself, sharing her story here.

Kudos for the two of them pulling it off. As it would happen, I stumbled into a long-ish discussion from other educators about the situation as well. Thoughts included:

  • indeed using Tim Horton’s or any other place that offers WIFI to the public
  • tethering to their phone
  • parking in the school parking lot and using board WIFI
  • calling the school to let the principal know that they had no access and therefore she/he should go into the class and cancel/postpone it

The common theme was addressing the current issue at hand – getting online. Some folks are hesitant to run up data charges on their personal phone, some were equally as hesitant to use a commercial product for such a purpose, and some doubted that they could do more than 15 minutes or so in a car. It was interesting to see the discussion because I could empathize with all of the positions.

Tethering? Never tried it? Instructions to do the job can be found here:

At least, we live in a world where wireless internet can be had from a number of sources without too much effort. If we still lived in a world where we had to roll out a piece of 10BaseT to make it happen, everything would be completely different.

Driven by much of this is the stated desire from the Ministry to have face to face teaching online. It’s certainly desirable but desirable in a perfect world. Since a network outage is often short term, I’m sure that an assigned task would be prudent for those rough moments. Again, this past week, I had revised the concept of Hyperdocs and Webquests. I can’t help but think that, in additionally being pedagogically sound when created appropriately, that they would nicely fit as a Plan B when Plan A is temporarily unavailable.

Looking at things, I was quite surprised with the number of educators who had already had the lights out experience with their internet provider. That was in just Week 1. In southern Ontario, today starts Week 2 and 3 of remote teaching and learning. Will it be extended? But, the odds are that there may well be a few more people that will experience challenges in the next days. The cynic in me wonders if this was included in the mandatory online training that the Minister had indicated every teacher in the province had received in the fall.

Regardless, in education, these are the stories that end up showing teachers for the heroes that go above and beyond just to make it happen. May it never happen to you.

What about you, personally? Do you have a Plan B in place should the worst happen?


3 thoughts on “Plan B

  1. Good morning Doug!

    (I posted my Maple Dip Doughnut Report last night in yesterday’s comment section for the “Whatever Happened to …”)

    Being a teacher is a great profession to be in if you want to develop your skills in having a Plan B. I don’t know if the skill is called upon more frequently in the elementary panel than in the secondary panel (we typically teach a broader range of subjects for potentially shorter periods of time, so that may introduce an additional number of variables), but, as you know, teachers are always expected to go with the flow, roll with the punches, and find ways to make things work. It’s painfully clear that the mysteries of teaching are beyond the current Minister of Education’s comprehension, but he does certainly expect the front line folks to save his bacon on a moments notice, at the drop of a hat, and with nary a “Thank You” to be seen.

    My Cogeco Internet continued to be problematic over the weekend. I used my cellular connection last night for an ECOO Support Series meeting. I’ve got about an hour before my next meeting this morning so I next will be rebooting the router to see if that fixes the problems.Apparently Cogeco is continuing to have problems throughout Ontario. If it were just off all the time, I wouldn’t even try it, but it seems to fade in and out every 10 or 15 minutes which is really problematic and frustrating. Maybe I should drive up to the Tim Horton’s at the 10 Acre Truck Stop and use their Wi-Fi — and see if they have any Maple Dips?


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