That’s how many files you accumulate in 4 years and a week of teaching, apparently.
That’s how many files were NOT on my flash drive when I plugged it into my computer to print something this morning.
My flash drive asked me to format it for use. Luckily, I know a moderate amount about technology and knew that if I did that, I would likely be losing my chance of ever seeing all of my files again. I clicked no.
Somehow, I managed to refrain from bursting into tears on the spot. I googled ways to recover files. I sat and stared at the screen for ten minutes straight. I realized I couldn’t try any of the recovery methods until I got home, because I don’t have administrative rights on my school computers. I went to plug it in to my classroom computer (I was in my office) just to see if it was the computer. It wasn’t.
The bell rang, the day started. I, somehow, did not cry the whole day. I told each of my classes that we were kind of winging it today, that my flash drive had deleted every file I had ever made for them. They were incredibly kind. (I almost typed “stunningly kind” there, but it is no longer stunning to me how incredibly kind my students are in all circumstances whenever anyone is having a tough time. They are the best people. They love so much.) In most of my classes, we had printed notes yesterday to glue in their INBs, and so my students helpfully read me the examples for me to copy on the board so we could solve them together – the reverse of a normal classroom, almost. One activity I did with one class was on the district curriculum in Google Drive, so I found that. The assignment I had projected on the board for Algebra 2 to start at the end of yesterday I had uploaded to their Google Classroom, so I found it there to project it again for today.
Teaching is a profession of rolling with the punches. You can teach through almost anything. Today, I taught through thoughts of having to recreate from scratch every activity, every notes file, every assessment that I had lovingly created in the last four years. I taught through not having materials for students who were absent a few days ago. I taught through thoughts of my grad school application essay (I’m already in the program, but I was very proud of the essay) and my first year teacher end of year district celebration speech being gone forever.
I told Heather, with whom I share an office, and she mourned with me for a minute, knowing she couldn’t do or say anything to fix it. I told other coworkers throughout the day who asked how my day was (I make it an intentional practice to not lie in answer to that question, so today, all day, I said “my day is going pretty terribly”.) I got condolences and offers to send me the files that other teachers had – even if they weren’t my own, they might be something helpful. One of our teachers contacted a friend who repairs computers and updated me throughout the day with ideas to try.
At lunch, I posted on facebook a call for help – did anyone know how to recover files from a flash drive? I described the situation and the messages I was getting to the best of my ability. My sister directed the message to friends of hers. Fellow teachers expressed their remorse. I got some things to try, and some people gave me a list of places to back my files up to in the future. (I feel like such an idiot for not backing up. I know I should. I guess I thought I was invincible because I understand technology fairly well.) A student who graduated in May directed the message to another student who graduated recently, who works with computers. My heart was somewhat buoyed by the knowledge that so many people understood how devastating this situation was, and wanted to try to help.
I watched my principal’s face fall at the end of the day when I told him what had happened, as I was leaving immediately to go try to save things.
The fix suggested did not work, but it gave me an error message that I was able to find later in that same help thread and try another thing, which did work. My files were back and I immediately burst into tears of relief. All of my work was there. All of the games, and notes, and assignments, and resources that I had spent four years carefully selecting to fit my students that I love so much, were back on my screen.
I immediately backed them up. They now live on the original flash drive, on my personal Google Drive account, on my school Google Drive account, and on a new flash drive that one of my coworkers so incredibly kindly gifted me today.
The lessons from today:
- BACK. YOUR. FILES. UP. Seriously, if you do not have a backup for your teacher files, please, please, please do it today. Make sure they are in at LEAST two different places, and preferably one cloud storage place that you can access from anywhere.
- My students are incredible and kind and forgiving – and they WANT TO LEARN MATH. They could have tried to use this as a way to not do any work today – and some of them halfheartedly suggested it, but then they dutifully shared the equations with me and helped me recreate today’s lesson so that it was as close to my original intent as possible. They also expressed concern and remorse and shared stories of times their phone lost all their contacts or all their photos.
- My coworkers and friends are so loving and helpful and kind and caring. I am so lucky to have them in my life. I should mention that the coworker who checked in with me throughout the day is one that I do not always get along with even – but when I was clearly in distress, they were there for me unhesitatingly. The amount of celebratory snapchats I got when I posted that I had recovered the files was astounding. I have great people in my life.
- I am so proud of the work I have done the last four years. Today made that abundantly clear. Sure, I could have recreated everything as we went through this year. But I have made some resources that I TRULY love, ones that I think have really made a difference in student understanding and outlook on math. I want to continue to use them. I was devastated when I lost them. I have had worse days teaching for sure, but this was definitely towards the bottom.
- BACK. UP. YOUR. FILES. I’ll say it again because I don’t want you to go through the day I just went through. Back ’em up. Do it for me. Comment if you did.