The Fine Art of the Snow Day
Not Another Snow Day!
The seventh snow day of the 2016-2017 school year is upon teachers in my school district, and there are those parents who have already taken to social media to voice their consternation about it.
"We live in Canada, people," said one.
"Do the students in Simcoe County bribe the bus drivers?" tweeted another.
Of the seven school days that school has been back in session since January 9 - our first day back since Christmas break - our students have had four snow days. There were two snow days back to back last week, and this is our second this week due to freezing rain and drizzle.
Here's the deal. Teachers at all levels are heavily impacted by snow days. Our teaching schedules - that is, what we plan on teaching from one week to the next - get messed with every time there's a snow day. A lot of elementary students still might go in to school - I know my daughters are debating about going (at 12 and 7, they can stay home surprisingly without killing each other in the absence of either my husband or myself) - but there is still an impact that is felt on a teacher's lesson plan even at that level.
Depending on how many kids show up on a snow day at the elementary level - one of my first teaching jobs was at that level, so I remember well what happened - we can either carry on with our lessons, or the kids can catch up with their work with lesson plans shifted until the next day. While that idea proves a little more challenging at the kindergarten level, there are still efforts made to keep the kids engaged in educational endeavours.
There's a different dynamic at the high school level. Few, if any, kids will show, opting instead to sleep or to see if they can perhaps pick up an extra shift at work. Teachers have plenty to keep themselves occupied, whether it be marking or planning how they will make up the work they couldn't do as a result of the snow day (which means no material covered, and students fall behind through no fault of anyone's except Mother Nature). There's also the matter of figuring out how we make up for the lost teaching day. Do we drink coffee? Absolutely - for some of us, it's our lifeblood. Do we visit with our colleagues sometimes? Yup - we all need a break.
Does that diminish what we try to get done on a snow day? No way. We're working to try and see how we can improve things and get lesson plans and educational resources finalized for the next lessons; we're meeting with other teachers to find out how we can help each other improve student success, or how we can help students who may be in crisis.
See, when we have kids in our classes, some of the necessities of our job that we really try and stay on top of sometimes aren't dealt with in as in-depth a fashion as we might like. As a result, the occasional snow day is a good opportunity for us to touch base with each other to see what we can do to improve your son or daughter's educational experience.
It helps us get better organized to ensure that we don't miss a beat. After all, we are not automatons - we're human, with relationships and sometimes kids of our own. Sometimes life happens to us as well, like it or not, and the better organized we can be, the better we can serve our clients - your children, and you as parents and guardians.
There's plenty that happens behind the scenes on a snow day, and while I understand the frustration of many parents out there right now, a snow day isn't just a "day off" for teachers. There are kids at the elementary level looking at their teachers right now, wondering when it's gym time, while the teachers might be wondering how bad the weather might get later on when it comes time for them to head home. There are high school students who, while they might initially experience relief at the prospect of sleeping in (here in Ontario, most high schools, at least in the district I teach with, start at 8 am and end at 2:30), the time of year might lead them to start becoming quite concerned about the last week leading up to finals.
It's not just another weather day - it's a gigantic prep, one we hope to take advantage of for the benefit of your kids.