Snow Day

I’ve always thought of snow days as a gift. I never really count on them. There’s no guarantee that we’ll have any in a given year. I always assume we’re going to have school. Then, when they come, it’s a pleasant surprise.

Truth-be-told, it shouldn’t make that much difference. I don’t work directly with students anymore, and I have to work on snow days. Except the extremely rare occasions when they’re called the night before, I’m always either en route or already at school when I get the call, so there’s no sleeping in. For me, snow days should be very similar to other days.

Snow on BenchBut they’re not. It’s different. Quiet. No one is around. I can work on servers and network equipment that has to be up when school is in session. I can do more writing and reflecting without interruption. I can shift focus to some of the things that we never get around to doing on normal days.

The first snow day is a breath-catching one. It usually comes when the desk is piled-high with projects that aren’t getting enough attention. The inbox is overflowing. It’s a chance to get back on the ball. When school returns the next day, I don’t feel like I’ve had a break. But I do feel like I’ve caught up a little.

The second snow day is a family day. I used to take this day off entirely, but rule changes now specify that I report to work. Still, I take care of the essentials, put in a few hours, and then spend time with the kids. After all, the world is a very fun place when there’s a foot of snow. It’s not going to last (and they’re not going to stay young) forever.

On the very rare occasions when there are more than two snow days, it usually means work on some sort of project. This year, I’ve been working on backup servers on snow days. Other times, we’ve rewired network closets, installed firewalls, and undertaken all kinds of different tasks. We always have that list of things that can be done if there’s a snow day. But I wonder…

Teachers don’t have time. I hear that a lot. “When I have time, I’m going to start a blog.” “When I have a chance to sit down and explore, I’m going to find some online resources for my class.” “I really need to get caught up with this technology stuff, but there never seems to be enough time.” It doesn’t happen during the school year. It doesn’t happen on those twice-a-year inservice days, when we’re trying to cram everything from differentiated instruction to safety and security to school legal updates into a catch-all staff development program. It doesn’t often happen in the summer, when priorities change and there’s some vacation time and summer camp and swimming lessons and…

Can it happen on snow days? We’re geared up. Ready to go. It’s not like summer, when they’re trying to clean the rooms and we’re updating computer labs and there’s construction going on and someone is testing the fire alarms. Until an hour ago, we thought there was going to be school today. So what’s to keep me from teaching a class on blogging? Or one on Moodle? Or just spending some unstructured time looking at Internet resources?

Sure, there are challenges. For one, many teachers have kids, and those kids don’t have school. But they could bring them along. The kids could play on the computers, too. Or we could set up a projector and show a couple DVDs. Or, if we have some responsible older kids who can supervise the younger ones, they could go out and play in the snow. Or, they could go to the gym and play. We could order lunch in. Or have hot chocolate. Very informal. Just for a few hours. It might even be fun.

We wouldn’t do it on the first snow day, of course. That’s catch-up day. And we probably wouldn’t do it on the second one. That’s family day. But the third one? Maybe.

Do you think anyone would come?

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Author: John Schinker

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