Snow Day In School

It was five am in Mid January.  I’d gotten up early to see if the predicted snow had actually appeared.  A glance out of my window confirmed the forecast of multiple inches of snow on the ground, the endless white giving a false glow to the early morning darkness.

Days like today were tricky.  Zach’s daycare opened at seven, and I’d have to be there right on the dot if I was going to be able to get to work on time to teach.  While the suburban schools might call off school on a day like today, the city schools with many more kids in walking distance rarely did.   Unfortunately, on a day like today my twenty five minute commute would stretch closer to the 75 minute mark.

Sure enough, as I clicked the TV on and checked in it after I showered, and again after I dressed, and again after I’d blown dry my hair, I saw that one by one, all of the local suburban districts were closing.  The local news said that it was a good six inches of snow on the ground, with more falling every second.   I carefully maneuvered my way to Z’s nearly empty day care (how I wished I could simply call into work as most of the parents had done because of the snow) and then embarked on round two of Winter Road Warrior on my way down to the school.  Traffic crawled on the highways in the deep ruts of the unplowed roads.  It took me an hour and twenty five minutes to get to my school.

Inside my classroom was warm and bright and welcoming to the students.   But as the opening bell rang, students trickled slowly in.  After ten minutes it was soon apparent that about half of my students had opted to call a snow day for themselves, regardless of what the school system said.

Becky and I met in the hallway midway between our two rooms so that we could hear the students while we quickly planned.  She too was missing about half of her students.   Obviously we couldn’t do any of our normal lessons since so many students would miss the content.  We knew better than to think that we could just send home missed homework and expect it to get done; it never returned.

“Each of us has half a class.  Hey, what do you think about putting them together?  Each of our rooms has enough seating since so many kids are gone.”

“Oh, that’s a great idea!  And we can do all snow stuff today; we can talk about the water cycle, we can estimate what snow weighs, we can predict how long snow takes to melt…”

“And we can do snow artwork, read snow stories and talk about the letter S!”  I answered quickly.

The day passed by in an excited blur.  Becky and I each fed off of each other’s ideas and before we knew it, it was time to send off the children to lunch.  Normally I was watching the clock every minute to see when I would have some small respite.  Not today.  I couldn’t wait for them to come back so we could do more with them.

“So this is what it is like,” I mused to Becky while we sat together over our cold sandwiches.

“What what’s like?” she answered.

“What it would be like to be in a regular school with a normal class size.  It’s been so long I’d forgotten.”

“I thought you were going to say ‘what it is like to enjoy teaching again’.”

I digested her words.  “Is it that obvious?”

“No,” she said quickly.  “I mean, I know that you’re unhappy because we talk a lot.  It’s not obvious to everyone else, I’m sure.  No, what’s obvious today is how much you are enjoying it, and it is nice to see.”

It was true.  It had literally been mid October before I’d had a day that I didn’t totally feel was a disaster in my own classroom, and while those days were becoming more and more frequent as I got used to the pace and flow of my days, every day was still a challenge.    “It is awfully nice to know that I still have it in me,” I answered.  “I wasn’t sure anymore, if I’m being honest.”

“We should do this more often,” Becky responded.  Even when we have full classes, let’s aim to do more things together.  Maybe the big stuff like Valentine’s and St. Patrick’s day and stuff like that.  The kids loved being together today; and they were honestly better behaved because they wanted it to continue.”

I looked forward to more days where I would love being a teacher again.

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