It was going well until…

Today we had Career Day at school and I had industrious plans, which you can read here. Snafus from the get go ensued, as the guest speakers physically present had been invited to a breakfast, which unbeknownst to me was in the library. It took quite a bit of encouragement to get the “project director,” one of our guidance counselors, to get the guests to finish and move onNZChrissy to classrooms where they were presenting. By 9:00, I was frantic, so I went ahead and called my first guest, Chrissy Hellyer, a Year 7 teacher from Taradale Intermediate School in Taradale, Napier, New Zealand. Chrissy had to get up at 3:00 a.m. to participate, and I can happily report she showed up webcam style complete in her “jarmies” as she called them, happy to help us out. Chrissy was all smiles as she described the differences in grade levels from the US vs. NZ. She talked about the job being a passion and one that is a calling to serve. Next we skyped Lisa Parisi of Long Island, NY (who declined to be on video before a morning shower!) and she talked about bringing in the newer tools to keep her and her kids excited, which is why she continues her career as a teacher. She described for us her global project of connecting through a collaborative wiki with a class from New Zealand so her kids could test misconceptions and theories about how things are different “down under.” The funniest story she shared was about the classes comparing the toilet flush to see if it spun in the bowl an opposite direction if one lived in the southern hemisphere. She said the classes compared notes on a lot of things, including gravity, but essentially came to the conclusion that the only real difference was the seasons. But what an AWESOME way to learn why the seasons are different. I wish I had thought to see if she had worked with Chrissy. Hindsight is always 20/20. I also wish I had thought to record it.

We changed sessions, and that is when Murphy’s Law kicked in. The internet was down district-wide, ending all plans to skype any of my network into other sessions, even though I had six people contacted, four of them scheduled. Oh well. My purpose for having different people from my network was two-fold. One, I didn’t have to worry about kids being bored by me, and two, these extra voices could talk about the diversity of jobs in education. My back up plan included a looping ppt containing pictures or screen shots of them in their work or element (Chrissy you are very obscure on the Interent!) I had put together this powerpoint that would loop while I was not in a skype conversation, and I wound up using it to talk about my area of education (library media) as well as all their different areas to the best of my knowledge. I even challenged these students to consider this career, and come back to make learning even better for future students.

Was I successful? I don’t know. I had shared my plans with my district media coordinator, and he came to observe. He witnessed all my snafus, like a minor late start and then after two video skype calls the Internet going down. He even worked diligently calling our district office to find out if the problem could be fixed or how long we would be down. His support really made me feel once again that I made the right choice in leaving my former school district (and family) to come to this one. His name is David Bell, and he is awesome!

But this incident reinforced what I’ve learned from previous presos—relying on the Internet is a crap shoot, and if you are using it for a live presentation, be sure to have a back-up plan or two! At least I haven’t had any of Wes Fryer’s problems like this and this. I do have comfort though in that he offers solutions to consider. Will I give up? Nah. Just plan better back up plans. I had thought yesterday to tell my skype presenters if they wanted to, they could make a three – five minute video of what they would share, and then send it to me to download, but that was probably too late notice as well. Oh well. My mantra is to “learn by doing.” I learned a lesson today.


Image: ‘internet down :(

Image: ‘Little case

Image: ‘scan0182

7 Responses to “It was going well until…”

  1.   Ann Oro Says:


    I’m adding your post to a small collection that I started making this week. When I walked into my presentations a couple of weeks ago, I realized that I was counting on the gods to have Internet access. There’s nothing worse than having to dance in front of an audience, but it sounds like you managed.

    I like the idea of the videos. It would make a nice side note in presentations (to teachers) to show one video even if the Internet was working. It’s important to show that you have to be prepared for an alternate bit of work if you have an Internet project planned for your students and it’s refusing to cooperate.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2.   Cathy Nelson Says:

    Ann do share what you saved so I can be better prepared. I have done many presos and always carry screenshots for the just in case, but in today’s 21st century tools, some things will not be able to be backed up with a screenshot–like Skype. Oh well. I covered pretty good considering. It’s too bad I thought about videos too late. That is a good idea, and using a video anyway mixes it up and keeps the audience interested. Now all I can think of is how cool it would be to have my students skype in visitors!

  3.   John Woodring Says:


    As you well know, I have been there and done that. I am also willing to compare t-shirt collections with you too :). We had to abandon our attempts at a live webcast for the time being due to network and equipment problems.

    Don’t worry, the sun will rise again, tomorrow is another day, and you will figure out how to get around this setback.

  4.   Bill Gaskins Says:


    Sound like you folks had a wonderful day. What were the reactions of the students?

    Back up plans are important. I am glad you planned well.

    Great job!


  5.   Cathy Nelson Says:

    @Bill – It seems the kids who did get the first round of Skyped in contacts were quite taken aback by the fact that Chrissy was halfway around the other side of the world. They kept asking me if she was really in New Zealand. Then they wanted to know about Skype, and a few asked me if I’d used other video conferencing programs (wish I could remember the apps they mentioned.) I do remember that I was unfamiliar with the ones asked about. The loved that I was using the technology or the preso. One wanted to know why I used Skype, and i said b/c it’s what my network of friends uses, which they all shook their heads at in a knowing way. This left me thinking the one they asked about is what their friends use. One tip I left with each group was that if they were unhappy with the way they are/were taught, perhaps they could comeback and teach in a way they think is better, and bring their tools in to do it. They laughed at that thought. I don’t know how impressed they were. I had been led to believe the kids were allowed to “choose” at least one of their three sessions, but I found out later that was not the case. The students were asked to complete a session critique or evaluation, so hopefully I will know how it went next week.

  6.   Allanahk Says:

    Sorry I couldn’t make it- I was at the Learning at School conference up in Rotorua and our motel didn’t have ANY internet access at all- I felt like I was disconnected and didn’t get your DM until too late. Chrissy is fabulous- I think she rarely sleeps. I now have my phone set up to receive DM tweets when I can’t get near the internet.

    I am going to ask my boss for a wireless vodem card this week. I don’t know what my chances are but I have to ask.



  7.   teachingsagittarian Says:

    I think your -wp ate my comment so I will try to post it again – please delete it if it magically reappears again! :)

    It was a real pleasure to have had the opportunity to speak to your students (and yes I do sleep sometimes!) I thought my accent would be a dead give-away that I wasn’t in America but obviously not!
    Even though your internet eventually let you down I am sure that you did a brilliant job of improvisation! Let me know if I can help again, anytime!

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