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.