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.
2017-12-27 at 10:45 am
My kids are still little, so over 4 inches and there is no school, but that is for their safety. Here’s to VERY FEW snow days this year.
2017-12-27 at 3:22 pm
Some places around the country, there really has to be a good amount of snow (6 or more inches), and it also depends on the terrain. Areas with a lot of hills and country roads tend to close with less snow amounts than, say, Buffalo, NY.
2017-12-27 at 6:58 pm
This would work really well for those districts that can’t handle much snow. It has to get pretty bad here for a snow day to be called.
2017-12-27 at 8:23 pm
That’s a really good point. We have so much stuff now that can allow us to continue learning online and with the help of our students and parents, it can be possible even when the kids aren’t in school. As teachers we plan for the year ahead, why not squeeze in days in case there’s a Snow Day.
2017-12-27 at 10:23 pm
This is a great point. Modern technology certainly allows for it. Maybe one day our school systems will catch up with modern technology
2017-12-27 at 10:25 pm
We usually have 3 days built in for snow days. I am hoping we don’t have to use them so we can have a longer spring break.
2017-12-28 at 10:08 am
Good educators are definitely vital to the system and an online learning platform cannot replace that, but it is, as you’re describing, a great way to keep students learning and on track when they cannot be at school. Thanks for bringing this up!
2017-12-28 at 11:19 am
Technology can be an asset in the classroom, especially on snow days. Granted if I had a snow day I would probably want to just enjoy it, but I get the need to keep the learning going.
2017-12-28 at 3:21 pm
When I lived in NC I think we closed for 2 inches one time! It seemed like a lot of snow to me though because I am a Florida girl lol. All we worry about down here are hurricane days.
2017-12-28 at 3:58 pm
This is a great read. And I couldn’t agree more, a great educator cannot be replaced. I feel that teaching is something that the person needs to be truly passionate about in order to make a difference in their student’s learning and life.
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2017-12-30 at 1:14 am
We rarely if ever get snow, but we do get ice. One time our school district was closed for an entire week due to ice.