Tech Troubles

Rachel Perugini Education, Life in the Classroom, Web/Tech

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Have you backed up your work lately? Because I hadn’t. And in the blink of an eye, all of it was gone. Quizzes, reading materials, practice grammar assignments, my final exam from last year, current data I had compiled- all gone. It is any teacher’s worst nightmare, and it happened.

My district suffered a cyber-attack. After 2 days off (which my sister jokingly referred to as a new, modern snow day), I returned back to school with a completely wiped computer. Luckily teachers with Macs weren’t affected, but there was a lot of stress and anger as us Dell users processed our potential loss. I say potential, only because at this moment we are still waiting to see what data was uninfected and can be returned to us. Best case, I get it all back and learn from my lesson; worst case, it is all gone and I cry for weeks.

After reflecting back on this experience, I would like to say I bring a balanced mix of technology and paper/pencil assignments into my classroom. But I guess I didn’t consider that every single thing teachers do now-a-days is somehow linked to technology. I make my assignments on the computer, make copies on a copy machine, put grades into an online system, and communicate with parents through email. You can’t really teach without using technology in some way, which made losing access to that technology so devastatingly difficult.

Luckily, I keep hard copies of all my assignments, so I could still make copies of old things. Unfortunately, any changes I made on the computer this summer or last year were gone. The teachers who had unaffected computers or had digital backups of their materials couldn’t do much with them because the printers were all down. Online classes our school offers were brought to a standstill as student work was lost and computers were quarantined until they could be scanned and updated.

My takeaways from the past two weeks are that I need to keep some technological balance. Yes, it is important to teach students to use technology responsibly and to use technology in the classroom to engage them in their learning. But it is also important that we model responsible use of that technology and teach students the dangers it can bring. We need to talk to students about what can happen when they open a spam email or click on an unknown link.

I cried more than once over the loss of my data, but it is good to show our students that we can function without our computers. This experience reaffirmed that I can be flexible teacher. It also reminded me that having backups is important— so very important. If you have read this far and get nothing else from my blog today, I hope you stop what you are doing right now and go back up your work. Copy it into the cloud or onto a flash drive, but go save yourself from the frustration of losing years of your hard work.


I am originally from Pennsylvania where I earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Shippensburg University. In 2012, I moved to Arizona to teach on the Navajo Reservation; I liked the state so much I decided to stay. I taught language arts, reading, and journalism for three years at Many Farms High School. During that time, I earned a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction for Reading. In 2015, I moved to Flagstaff where I currently teach 10th and 11th grade English. I have been an avid reader all my life, so I love that my job gives me that chance to read amazing books with my students all day long.

Comments 6

  1. Jaime Festa-Daigle

    Thank you for sharing this perspective. As the Technology Director for my district, we all stood by with our breath held watching FUSD. I have only thought of it from a district perspective, you helped remind me of the very real impact this has on staff.

  2. Melissa Girmscheid

    Oh no! Hopefully enough things were recovered. My district had its main internet cable accidentally cut a couple of weeks ago and we all thought a day without internet was crippling. I cannot imagine losing files and having that uncertainty.

  3. Kyle Bragg

    Thanks for sharing this, and I’m sorry that it happened to you! It’s a great reminder to back up materials. I also like that you’re focusing on using technology, but also still using paper and pencil from time to time. Technology is great, but just like anything, should be used purposefully and in moderation.

  4. August Merz

    You know, I try to keep copies of lessons on both my school computer and my home computer – as well as write them online. What I’m missing is a good system for keeping them organized. I mean day to day. I’ll often be looking for an assignment in two or three folders and clicking “recent” in several apps before I find it. It’s kind of like I’m my own cyber attacker.

  5. Jess Ledbetter

    I’ve kept all my work on a flash drive (which I occasionally back up) for years because my Smart Notebook files are too large to store on any computer. I occasionally joke that I’d just straight up quit if I lost it all. (I’m not denying that this is partly true) Redoing things that were already well done is so frustrating. This year, a preschool friend of mine returned to work to find out that the IT department had taken her computer, wiped it, sold it, and replaced it with a new computer. She lost absolutely everything she had ever made. It’s so painful to imagine. What was the final outcome of your data recovery? Did you get most of it back? Sincerely hoping the answer is yes!

    1. Rachel Perugini

      Yes!!! And it’s all on a flash drive currently. It was a rough few weeks remaking materials, but we made it through. Definitely learned my lesson.

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