• Lisa Palanca for Palanca Leadership

Are your students snow ready?

I knew it before I woke up.

The snow day that was imminent last night, showed up in full fury this morning.

Thankfully, it arrived before schools had to make the dicey decision as to whether to put buses on the road.

It takes me back to days, with young kids at home, snuggling back down in our pajamas, bringing out the saucers and sleds, shoveling, and remarking to all that passed that this was some weather.

But is it really?

In our area of Michigan, we average between 8-10 snow days per year. We have perfected what to do on snow days to a science. Some folks actually like the snow.

After all the days spent watching students arrive at the door, the day after a snow day is especially telling as to the wellbeing of kids in winter. I can close my eyes and see Larry with his boots 2 or 3 sizes too big, feet packed in sandwich bags to resist the moisture. Sarah, who “forgot” to wear her warm coat and seems to have amnesia about it all winter. Marcus who doesn’t really like to wear a hat and gloves when the weather paints his ears a vibrant bright red and chaps his hands. And the lips! Those raw circles around the mouth that only invite the tongue to continually lick.

This is a time for teacher eyes.

While you don’t have to run to the thrift store to outfit your students, I do suggest sending out a memo to parents and friends for collections of boots, hats, and mittens they have outgrown. Although storage space is at a premium, a bin with a top can be used and put away in warmer weather.

I suggest making a covert move to hand over a pair of mittens or a hat to a student but also proclaiming to the class that no one goes out that is unprepared for the weather. A large jar of Vasoline can be used and dolloped onto a piece of paper towel and handed to kids with the chapped licked circle of hurt that was once their mouth.

My second suggestion is for teachers who still have recess duty or need to use this time for planning, to work out a schedule with other teachers that allows for one teacher to stay in and allow children that really can’t take the weather, to stay in and do a quiet activity. A classroom buddy room extends your “school family” and makes it easier for teachers to be creative.

I have heard the argument in favor of moving and fresh air, but when you see crowds of kids standing around shivering and miserable, give them an alternative. Perhaps a knitting club. My teaching partner had students knitting scarves and hats in a knitting circle with quiet music. A brain break but still a break.

As far as movement, our PE teacher was great about allowing classes to sign up when there wasn’t a PE class going on. I liked to play games with my class that worked up a pretty decent set of red cheeks and involved running and fun. Perhaps a teacher-led 15 minute walk around the school can also suffice if you can find 15 minutes to run this break.

Snow days are little gifts from the heavens, but we need to prep for having it around a while.

To the first snow day for students and teachers in my area…..Here! Here!

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