When your most proper teacher friends in The South talk about “The S Word,” you pay attention. Their hushed tones and serious looks barely cover a teacher’s excitement. Because for the longest time around here, a snow day meant a day of no school.
Of course, that is changing.
Most all educators, schools/districts have access to softwares which could easily continue learning without meeting face-to-face in an arbitrary building. So why the slow reaction to embrace this exciting way to continue learning?
Our profession plans things out semesters, 180 days, and academic years in advance.
Why aren’t we meaningfully planning for learning on snow days?
By the time it snows, it is too late to:
Cultivate a self-reliance in your students, or their parents. Students routinely learn things without their teachers, but some subjects feel as if school “owns” them, and it would be an exercise in diminishing returns to learn without the teacher, without the credit for learning. How can you teach your students to look for your subject, their learning, everywhere? Do you have a strong enough relationship with them yet to tell them you trust them to explore your subject(s) without you right beside them?
Consider how to measure “attendance,” “effort,” or give “homework.” In the obsession with what counts, with what we can prove, where does real learning fit? What would it look like? What would you or your school accept? The best way to discuss this is in-person with students and maybe their families well in advance of any days where students cannot come into the building.
Familiarize yourself, students, and their families with the role of an online platform. The online platform is a facet of your classroom and can provide a continuity of experience. What types of learning could students and families expect to find online and what do you expect them to do with that learning?
By the time it snows, it is too late to have these conversations. Most of my colleagues are too busy buying bread and milk by that time to thoughtfully listen anyway.
With all of this possibility, why are educators so slow to recover a day learning? Maybe the slow embrace is due to a fear that educators might be replaced.
That is ludicrous.
You cannot replace a good educator. Unfortunately for some teachers, you can replace someone who does not work in a way which is best for kids. You can replace someone who will not go along with a grade-level or school or district-wide initiative. You can replace someone who is in the mindset that school is the only place real learning happens. You should replace someone who doesn’t have the relationship with their students to want them to know how to learn all the time, everywhere.