When Snow Days Grow: Ideas for Michigan Teacher Flexibility

Snow days.

If you have ever been in Michigan for a winter, you know the weather will certainly be terrible enough for a school cancellation…lovingly called a SNOW DAY.

Today is one of those days.

I watch my social media coverage with happy teachers who will not have to drive on slick and ice covered roads or worry about students being outdoors in subzero wind chills. I remember the joy of rolling back over after “the call”.

The western half of Michigan along the lake and into its interior at least 50 miles, is known as the Lake Effect Snow Area. The warm waters of Lake Michigan allow cold and dry air masses to pull up moisture and once over land, dump the snow in alarming rates.

Kids and teachers alike have performed snow day dances or put ice cubes in toilets to invite the unexpected day off from school. But when those days start to add up, so does the concern.

How many snow days are amassed before worried teachers start heading to lesson plans to readjust? What determines less subject coverage? Cut and paste?

One year, 2014, the weather was so intensely cold and snowy, I was communicating with my students via phone and email. I had heard the forecast and asked that they make sure to take certain materials home. I don’t mean to sound like a tyrant, but I wanted to make forward progress before the sliding and re-teaching of new information was lost or forgotten. Or at least keep them in the holding pattern.

As teachers, though, what kind of revisions or changes are made to a lesson plan crafted to meet State Standards?

Michigan teachers deserve consideration when it comes to the necessary missing of school due to weather conditions. We all agree that safety should always come first. Some schools, who provide community events or have winter festivals, know there is a chance these things will be postponed. Committees often preplan a makeup date. Sporting events, clubs, and after school activities are off. It becomes more of a curse than a blessing..

So, for some, this is the 4th or 5th day off this year. Next week’s weather is looking to be a repeat or worse.

Some suggestions winter’s grip is holding on tightly….

· DO you know you can make a downloadable Youtube video that might cover some lost info?

· Stage a long term (Project Based Lesson) on-going project that students may work on at home.

· Always have students carry a “read for pleasure” book in their back pack.

· It may even serve you well to check out television program listings that might be used for writing or enrichment.

· Students can keep a journal, report on current events, do temperature and snow depth experiments.

· Board games, card games, things that involve strategy.

Another idea is to send home a list (or post one on your website) of things to do when a snow day closed school.

And when the academics run low, encourage getting outside for a bit.

You guys! Quit rolling your eyes!

It’s all good when you are working in your jammies!

Thanks for listening.

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