I’m on a train, heading into London, where I’ve got a meeting.
I’m not planning to do any teaching today, nor even to give a presentation or a briefing.
And yet, on a quick check through my bag, I’ve got the following on me:
- My laptop, including the power cord and the adaptor for connecting to output devices;
- My voice recorder, should I want to record a podcast;
- My workbook, where I keep notes on what I’m doing;
- Post-it notes; and,
- Board marker pens
In short, I’m ready and poised to do a whole bunch of teaching-type activity.
Partly, this is because I hate re-packing my bag each time I leave the house, but much more it’s because I’ve found myself in situations too often when I don’t have the things I would like to have on me.
I do wonder if this is because I’ve had my professional development during a period of rapid technological change, when resilience really mattered.
When I started out, it was all acetates and overhead projectors, unless they were broken, in which case it was the blackboard.
And then data projectors arrived, if you could get the computer booked out and then get it to connect to the projector.
I spent several years working with a dual system: a computer with powerpoints and a bag full of acetate (plus some chalk, just in case, because, well, I’m me).
(and yes, I do still have those acetates filed away, somewhere in my office)
Nowadays, even though I’ve not had a tech problem for several years, I still try to be prepared should one occur. In fact, the last time it did happen, I was giving a keynote at a conference, and I just had to wing my talk without my slides for the first half: unpleasant, but not fatal.
The message here is that your teaching can be delivered in more than one way, but to make that possible, you need to be ready and able to use those different ways when needed.
If you don’t want to learn by bitter practical experience (ahem), then I offer this technique: sit down and consider what you do and what could go wrong. That might include technology problems, or problems with the room you’re in, or too many/few people turning up, or not having the time you thought you did, or any of that.
Now think about what you can do about it.
In pretty much every case, there’s plenty you can do, adaptations you can make. I’ve not yet had a class that had one of these problems that I could get something useful out of, from the time only one person turned up to the time when none of the lights worked. Or the time my train got really delayed (like now).
And before you worry too much, just remember that most of the time things work just fine.
And that’ll be in part because you’re ready for anything.