Normally, I would be driving to school right now, but instead I am home in the basement nestled in my cave. It’s a snow day. The weather guys predicted the storm several days ago and the media is in full hype. Right now, there is less than half an inch covering the sidewalks and roads, but it is predicted to get worse, probably much worse with the bulk of the snow arriving midday just in time to release kids to walk home from elementary schools with unplowed roads and snowy sidewalks. It is just a bad idea.
The call came in at 5:23 from my kid’s school district announcing that “due to the expected heavy snow, all school and afternoon activities for Tuesday, March 5th are cancelled…” My district called a couple of minutes later with the same news. I’d already been waging a war with the alarm clock, and losing, I might add, when the phone rang. I turned the alarm off and W came in to make sure he could sleep until he wakes up, he was excited, but probably not enough to keep him from falling back to sleep. I tried going back to sleep, but I couldn’t so I got up and went downstairs.
I wish we were in school, I really do. This is the first day of my summer vacation and I’ll have to go back to school tomorrow. Please, allow me to explain. When schools close for a day due to weather, or for any other reason, the school district moves the last day of school back one day. This year school ends on Friday, May 31; which means that school is now out on Monday, June 3. It’s a bad trade of one cold wet snowy day for three potentially nice warm days, yuck!
It couldn’t come at a worse time. It’s the time for state testing and we had set aside the entire week to give the state standardized tests: two tests each day in the morning every day all week, except Wednesday. It is the same for all schools in Illinois from third through eighth grade, though each school sets its own testing schedule. O had tests yesterday, too. W is immune because he is in high school, but he will test another time, I’m sure. We’ll do makeup testing tomorrow or next Monday.
I don’t like standardized tests and I never have. Last week a student asked me why we weren’t doing ISAT prep in class. I told her that we had been doing ISAT prep all year. She looked confused and I had to explain that if I was not teaching the skills she needed, to do well on the state tests I needed to find a new vocation. I mean it. Teaching kids to think – to read, write, and speak well should be enough perform well on the state tests. I don’t reach all kids I wish I could. I make the difference with the students I can and share my passion for learning – reading, writing, history, and geography.
Yesterday the kids were excited. The schedule change with testing sessions all morning long in one classroom and then a schedule flip in the afternoon had the kid’s internal schedule topsy-turvy. Plus, they were excited about the potential of a snow day. They asked me what I thought and I told them it’s a bad deal one snow day for three summer vacation days. That didn’t work, too abstract, so I tried another way to explain. I asked them would they rather have $100 on Tuesday, or wait for the last day of school and get $300? It was almost universal, $300 on the last day of school. But, of course I had some kid who told me he’d take the $100 and invest it – a future hedge fund manager. I reach the ones I can.
Oh well, I have my Franklin now, so I had better make the best of it and make it count. The snow is lightly falling and the kids are sleeping, B too. Even Ivy just looked at me when I came downstairs, made coffee, and disappeared down into the basement. I have a stack of papers and homework from the grad class I started last week and then, I could run trains and have fun with the kids. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, even a summer vacation day in March.
What would you do (or could you do) with a surprise day off?