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What to do when the technology fails at your school visit

Unpredictable technology is part of daily life for teachers. It’s not unknown for the internet to be down for a whole day, so teachers are used to reverting to alternative ways to deliver their lessons and consistently provide rich learning experiences for children.

But what about you? What would you do if you couldn’t access your slide deck, video clips or backing tracks? Remember: you can’t use your mobile phone – it’ll be off for safeguarding reasons.

Here are five things that you can do to prepare.

  1. Think of a standby activity that you could do with the children while a teacher or technician is helping to sort out the technology. (Teaching assistants do this all the time –it’s one of their superpowers.) For example, could you give the children the first line of your story, then go around the room asking them to add a bit to see where their imaginations take them? When the tech is up and running, you could then show them what you did with that first line, validating their suggestions.

  2. Send your presentation in advance. Some teachers will request a copy so that they know what to expect and can incorporate your visit into their plans. Send it by email so that it sits on a teacher’s email client and is no longer reliant on access to a cloud-based system. If you do this, make sure that you assert your copyright on each slide and that you reassert your rights and the limits on use and dissemination in your terms and conditions (in the same way as you have in your book).

  3. Review your session plan. Consider each block of time and work out what you would do if technology wasn’t available. Would it stay the same, could you adapt it, or would you need to swap one element for something else? This gives you a Plan B. If it doesn’t work at all without the tech, reimagine your visit.

  4. Print a copy of your slides and take them with you in notes form if you plan to deliver broadly the same session.

  5. Your book is your script and can get you out of tricky situations. If you usually rely on text on the screen or audio, remember to pack a personal, annotated copy of your book. It’s your comfort blanket.

What better way to model that, when the technology fails, you can still reach for your book.

Could you deliver your school visit without the tech?

What would you do?

Isobel is an Oxfordshire-based editor and proofreader of inclusive books for children, and helps children’s authors market their books to UK schools and create engaging author visits. Writers seek her help to make their books more inclusive and accessible to children and their adults, and appropriate for teaching and learning. As a former school librarian and governors’ clerk, she knows what teachers want and need, where they look and how to unlock the budget for books and school visits. As well as editing and coaching, she loves spending time outside, playing music with friends and exploring the world of film.

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