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Ever wondered what to do if the power goes out while you’re teaching online? In this guide, I’ll walk you through my backup plan and the exact steps you can take to teach English online during a power outage.

Pretty much the worst thing that can happen to an online teacher is a power outage. In a power outage, your internet, your charging ability, and your light source are all out of commission.

Thankfully, after teaching online for several years, I’ve learned some tricks that can help you salvage some classes in the event you’re teaching and your power decides to quit. 

This strategy may or may not be related to one harrowing week where storms made our power flicker on and off for days. I’m proud and shocked to say that in that week, I only received one Teacher IT issue, even with very unreliable power.

Do they give out medals for this kind of accomplishment?

Preparation for Teaching English online in a Power Outage

None of these power outage backup plans will work unless you’re prepared.

If you think there’s even the slightest chance of the power failing (the power has been surging, you’re in a remote area, there are storms coming, etc), you’ll need to lay some ground work before class starts.

Here’s what you need to have fully charged to teach online classes in a power outage:

If your company has the option to teach on a desktop or on a tablet, go ahead and download their mobile app. If you teach through Zoom or a similar platform, download the mobile version of Zoom.

VIPKID, for example, has a mobile app that allows you to teach from a tablet but you need to have it downloaded and configured before trouble begins because it takes a while to set up.

Download the app you’ll use, sign in to your account, and familiarize yourself with the platform so you aren’t fumbling while your worst online teaching nightmare unfolds around you.

For lighting, grab a rechargeable ring light. A ring light alone isn’t ideal lighting, but at least you’ll have enough light for your students to see your face. You’ll just have this dark, mysterious ambiance. How exciting. Everything is fine. Keep breathing.

This plan works best if everything listed above is fully charged.  

teaching english online in a power outage gear, a laptop, tablet, selfie ring light, charger, and hotspot phone

What to do when the power goes out during your online classes

When the power goes down, the lights, the internet, and your ability to charge your devices will go down with it.

What should you do?

  1. Take a deep breath and don’t panic. I feel like I have to say that because trust me you will panic. I panicked. But somehow it was much easier to solve the problem when I stopped panicking. Go figure…
  2. Turn on the hotspot on your phone. To do this, go to settings → personal hotspot → on.
  3. Plug your phone into the power bank. Using the hotspot will drain it fast and you might forget about it while you’re teaching
  4. Connect your laptop to the hotspot. Click on the little WiFi icon in the top corner and an option called “Personal Hotspot” with the name of your phone will pop up. Click on this option. When you’re connected you’ll see a little interlocking link symbol.
  5. While the laptop is connecting, open any window blinds or curtains you have in the room to get some natural light, if it’s still daylight outside.
  6. Turn your computer brightness down as low as it will go to save battery
  7. Turn on your selfie ring light and clip it to the top of your laptop.
  8. Take a deep breath and refresh the page. You’re back in class now. You are fabulous. And you will survive this. 

If your laptop is fully charged and your hotspot phone is attached to a charge bank, this setup should last you a few hours. Of course, this will vary depending on the battery life of your laptop. 

Once the laptop runs out of battery, begin phase two.

  1. Connect your tablet to the hotspot. Click on Settings → WiFi → On → Click the name of your hotspot under “Choose a Network.” Wait until you see the link symbol to indicate a connection. 
  2. Log into your classroom or teacher portal on your iPad or tablet.
  3. Clip your ring light to the tablet
  4. Wipe the panic sweat from your brow
  5. Continue teaching like normal.

How long will this set up last you?

My laptop can do a few hours of classes on one charge if I keep the brightness low.

The iPad seems to use less battery than the laptop per class.

The hotspot phone battery runs down fast so you’ll need to keep it charging with the power bank. With a power bank, it can go for a while.

The selfie ring light usually lasts 3-4 hours so 6-8 classes. If you have a power bank with multiple ports like this one, you can charge the ring light while you’re teaching as well. 

So in summary, assuming you have everything charged and set up in advance and don’t totally lose your cool, this method should get you through your day of classes pretty smoothly, considering that you’re teaching from an actual power outage!

What’s the wildest situation you’ve ever taught through? Let me know in the comments below!

About the Author

Hi! I'm Nic. Let's chat about remote work and ways to incorporate more travel into your life. Whether you're here to find an online job or need some tips for planning your next trip, I've got you covered! More about me

8 thoughts on “How to Teach Online Classes in a Power Outage”

  1. You took me from stressed out to piece of cake in a few minutes! Being prepared seems so much easier when you know HOW!! Thanks!!

  2. This looks like the kind of thing I would print out and laminate, then keep next to the computer at all times. If it’s multiple pages I might even put it on a ring. 😉 Former public school teacher in the Atlanta, now VIPKID teacher here. I’m planning on hitting the bricks in about two years, when my daughter is pretty much launched. I. CAN’T. WAIT. –Stacy

  3. power went out last night for 16 hours….i found you today. you are an angel, and i will be better prepared for next time this happens. THANK YOU!

  4. Thank you so much for SHARING this! Nic, you took me from OVERWHELMED by the choices to making SANE, INFORMED and MINIMAL decisions about one of the most panicked situations I’ve been in! BLESSINGS!!


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