Snow days are a rite of passage for students and teachers living in areas that are prone to significant snow accumulation in the winter months or even those places like the deep South that don’t have equipment to deal with even a minor snowfall.
There is just something about being awoken by the ring of a phone or beep of an early morning text alerting you to the school being closed. Back in the day, it was commonplace to park yourself in front of the tv and eagerly watch the alphabetized list of schools on loop to see if you were the lucky recipient of a snow day. The longer the list, the more the excitement would build. When it wouldn’t show, you never despaired as you were absolutely sure it would on the next rotation. Anticipation would build as slowly snow fell outside.
C’mon people, are we really going to rob children of this wonderful and rare academic holiday?
The sad truth is that because we are now living in a time of so much virtual learning, may states have decided to eliminate snow days!
When you can teach content on a virtual platform, there really is not any reason to halt learning just because of snow fall. While this makes complete sense, it also brings a sense of mourning for some.
Snow days are not anything spectacular in and of themselves – there are no presents, no fireworks, no decorations. But their unexpected arrival does provide a sense of released responsibility for the day and are often filled with sledding, hot chocolate, cookies, and time spent with friends. While our world may look vastly different than last year, the unparalleled magic of snow days is still the same.
You would be hard pressed to find someone, especially an elementary-aged student that does not revel in the joy of an unexpected snow day. Whether it be the excitement of sleeping in, the extra time with friends or just a chance to binge-watch favorite shows all day, there is always something to look forward to.
On the flip side, a lot of teachers get almost giddy at the thought of a snow day. When there are storms preparing to hit, it is difficult to determine if the school is full of teachers or novice meteorologists. The amount of traffic a weather blog or site receives on those days is likely quite high, as teachers anticipate eagerly the impending storm.
Walk through an elementary school and you will likely hear plans of what amounts to innocent voodoo by wearing pajamas inside out, flushing ice cubes down the toilet or sleeping with a spoon under your pillow to help encourage a large enough snowfall to cancel school.
We here are Mobile Permissions are drawing a line in the snow… we eagerly would love your help to SAVE OUR SNOWDAYS!
So, we know virtual learning is pushing snow days to the side in many states right now, but as educators, it is time to embrace yet another change and see how we can adapt.
Snow Days are “Virtually” Disappearing
Over the past eight months, education has been reimagined across the globe. The pandemic has not only shifted our way of life, but it has also shifted our way of thinking about things, namely education. In-person school was shifted to virtual learning overnight and teachers and parents were suddenly shoved into the task of facilitating learning online.
That shift, in and of itself, is enough to send anyone hurtling into the abyss of anxiety and sadness for the normal that has been lost. While it is perfectly okay to mourn the loss of normal, it is also a great time to reimagine what school can be like for parents, teachers, and students. We know snow days are likely a thing of the past, but perhaps other fun things take the place of snow days in a virtual setting.
Snow Days can Still be Fun
So, we know virtual learning is pushing snow days to the side in many states right now, but as educators, it is time to embrace yet another change and see how we can adapt. Remember, you have lots of little eyes and parents watching you. Think all the negative things you want, but make sure you handle it with grace because your attitude is contagious. Let us think about what we, as educators can do to help keep the excitement during a potential snow day. Knowing that you will likely be expected to cover content, see how you can infuse a bit of snow day fun into the day. Here are some ideas:
Fireside read aloud
Get yourself a fun background or even use your own fireplace and enjoy a read aloud with your students. To make it even more fun add in the option of cookies and hot chocolate.
Virtual field trip
Take a virtual field trip with your elementary school class. Look at your content and see if there is any way that you can align a virtual field trip. Everyone loves field trips so an impromptu trip would likely be a welcome surprise.
Can you find any snow related STEM activities your students can do at home? This is a great way to offer hands on engagement that may be otherwise missing from the virtual learning experience.
Snowman Contest with Writing
Have your students build a small snowman and write about it. This is a great way to encourage creative and descriptive writing. If you have a student that does not want to go outside, allow them to draw the snowman.
As you can see, there are many ways to engage your students on a “should have been” a snow day. Instead of lamenting about the changes and how awful, wrong, or sad it is to remove snow days, try to come up with a solution. Make sure it is a fun and memorable day for your students, even if they are still responsible for virtual learning.
Benefits of No Snow Days
We all know there are hidden benefits to not having snow days, but it is challenging to see the benefits through the disappointment of saying goodbye. This may be a bit dramatic but let us face it. Snow days are a big part of the winter fun. Anyway, while there is sadness about what we are missing, let us try to focus on the good things that can come from no snow days.
- No cleaning off the driveway to drive on slippery roads to teach. Get dressed, grab your coffee, and have a seat behind the computer. Now shoveling necessary, unless of course your desk is a mess.
- No extra days added to the school year. THIS is one of the great things about no snow days. You can end the school year when it is supposed to end. If you live in a rather snowy climate, you know what it is like to be in school until the end of June. It is not fun!
- Create a virtual snow day. You can reimagine snow days. Yes, you have to include content and learning, but you are the captain of the ship and you can make your virtual snow days something to look forward to, whether it be with extra activities or a virtual field trip, you are in control.
- You can stay home with your family or pets for the day and have a modified snow day. Sure, you still must get work done, but honestly, what teacher has not used at least one snow day as a catch up on workday? At least you get to be home to do it.
There can be a silver lining to any situation, you just need to look hard enough to find it and you may even need to get a bit creative. Taking time to do this will pay dividends in your classroom community.
Because of the pandemic and shift to virtual learning, it is likely snow days will be disappearing from most states. While this is just one more hit caused by the pandemic, it does not need to be. Take this as a chance to embrace the change and make it a positive for both parents and students. Take a virtual field trip, create snow-based activities to fit with your content. Whatever you do, make it a little bit fun and different and you will likely find yourself looking forward to snow days once again.
Permission slips are standard and required for high school field trips in the United States. Yet, what about high schools in other countries? As a teacher who has taught in Europe many years and in China for one year, I went on many field trips outside of the U.S. What do they do different and why?
The educator’s task to arrange a field trip, get all the parent permission slips, then deal with students outside of the classroom and school environment never crossed my mind doing my graduate work.
One thing that is rarely ever covered in new teacher training is how to do what many of us in the profession consider to be “the easy stuff”. Things like how to use the copier, how to set up a classroom, and how to create and send out a movie permission slip.