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- Should I Stay or Should I Go? - July 16, 2014
- Demo Lesson Tips - May 28, 2014
- Changes that Need to be Made in ESL - March 6, 2014
- Olympic Lessons - February 13, 2014
- Myths About Snow Days - February 6, 2014
- He Said What?! Funny things our kids say... - January 30, 2014
- The Dawn of a New Era in New York City Schools - January 22, 2014
- Push In Versus Pull Out Strategies for English Language Learners (ELL) - December 26, 2013
- Project Based Learning: Giving Up Control - October 29, 2013
The recent Polar Vortex has caused snow days and cold days along with delays and early dismissals across the country. Georgia was recently hit with snow causing delays on major highways to the point where people were abandoning cars. Students and and teachers were even forced to spend the night in school because they were unable to leave and travel safely. New York City was hit with snow and white out, blizzard-like conditions. The weather reports predicted the storm would be bad, which caused numerous districts to cancel school or call an early dismissal. Some districts were out of school for two days because of the timing of the storm.
New York City Public Schools called neither an early dismissal or a snow day for the following day. Teachers were stuck driving home at the worst point. For some, a usual hour long commute took four hours or more. There was even a school bus driving down the east side of Manhattan full of school children that a local news reporter was following. The students were stuck on the bus with no bathroom for hours. Schools across the midwest have been closed for days on end because of extreme cold.
The point in mentioning all of these closings and delays is that many people seem to forget why those days are put into place. I have been watching the Facebook comments and tweets about the weather and schools and I have been surprised. The general consensus seems to be that teachers are lazy and just want another day off added to the calendar. Though with the media’s general opinion of teachers I really shouldn’t be surprised. Some of the comments were just plain wrong and offensive. I even got one that somehow tied my lack of a snow day to my summer vacation.
There were two comments I saw most often.
“Must Be Nice to Have an Extra (or Paid) Day Off”
I saw this comment quite a few times. Students are required to go to school a certain number of days that are mandated by law. If there is a snow, or cold, day that day needs to be made up. Districts often put a few extra days onto the calendar in anticipation of a snow day. If no snow days are used, then school ends earlier than expected in June or a day off is added to a vacation such as spring break. If more snow days than usual occur, then the school year might extend into July. This I can’t imagine since my school has no air conditioning and can become brutally hot by the end of June. As for the pay comments, teachers are paid according to the days allotted in the school calendar. If only we were paid according to all the hard work we do, but that is for another article.
“Students Should Go To School and Learn”
This comment often went along with some story about “back in my day.” Do people forget the purpose of a snow day? It is something that is put into place for safety reasons. No child should be on a school bus for hours without a bathroom. No teacher should have to drive five hours to get home. No one should have to spend the night in a school building because of slippery roads. Snow days and early dismissals are used to avoid these situations. Looking back at New York City a few weeks ago, no snow day was called when the road situation was barely passable. Teachers were told to use mass transit(also not running at full speed). When the attendance rates came in for the day they were abysmal. The only attendance rates they didn’t post were the percentage of teachers that were able to trek in. The average attendance rate per school hovered around 50%. How can you teach with that many kids? It could end up being a productive day of review, but even that might not be possible because you may have students from all over the school in your class due the lack of staff. On that day, parents decided that the weather was not worth their child’s safety.
If some of you have friends that begin protesting school snow days please remind them, teachers cannot work from their home computer like most jobs. Though one day working in pajamas would be a different experience. Teachers it’s up to us to change the perceptions in the media. Good luck with the remainder of this winter and hopefully snow days don’t disrupt our student’s learning too much.