Okay, I admit it, I hate snow days. As a school administrator, they are always causing havoc to the systematic learning necessary for successful teaching. Each year, I carefully plan out the calendar trying to get all days off in groups so there won't be too many interruptions. We have Thanksgiving Break, Christmas Break and Easter Break. These alone are enough. After each break, teachers have to take the better part of a week to get students back into their procedures and focused on learning again. Think of it this way. You take your family on a week vacation to Florida. Once you return to work, you realize that you are further behind and it takes time just to get back in the swing of things. If it is that way for us as adults, think how hard it is for children. As teachers we must understand this and adjust the schedule to allow for reteaching and more review. That's during a regular school year without any unscheduled snow days.
Once snow days are added to the mix, it becomes doubly hard to cover all the mandatory things that need covered, let alone adding extras. Each time there is a day off for snow (and generally they come in twos or threes) we must back track and remind students where they were. It is sort of like learning to play an instrument. Unless you practice every day, it's going to take a long time for you to play it well.
To top it off, the state of West Virginia has now made it mandatory that we have 180 days of student learning each year. I am not sure where they got the magical number of 180. Why not 200 or 250? But that is for another time. With this law, every day that is missed has to be made up. That's fine, but there are only so many days in the calendar and if there are many snow days, you end up adding them in June.
What is wrong with that? We are required to have Terra Nova testing in April. April is the time when about three quarters of the school year is normally over and this testing shows what the students have learned. If you are adding days back after the testing date, test results are sure to be lower than usual because you haven't taught the material yet. If you have continual breaks in the schedule with snow days that means teachers are spending more time reviewing and less time explaining new material. There are only so many hours in a day. When new material isn't covered well enough, you have more students who aren't mastering it. It is a very frustrating thing for teachers, students and administrators as well.
As the administrator of this school, I want to do everything in my power to see each student live up to his/her potential. Over the years I have learned that sending home things for students to work on while having a snow day helps them to come back more focused and lessens the effects of missing a day. Therefore, I have instructed teachers to send home extra work to be done on snow days. This work should be no more than an hour in length for most students. It is not supposed to make up the entire day missed but to keep their minds active on what is being taught. Is it a cure all for snow days? Absolutely not! But neither is adding these days to the end of the calendar year. By that time, most of the students have lost their desire to study and are focusing on summer activities. I do believe, however, that this extra work will improve overall knowledge and help promote a more sustained level of learning. There is nothing we can do about snow days. As the saying goes, "Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it." We can't do away with snow days. All we can do is try to make them less detrimental to student learning.
Who is this guy?
David Friend is an ordained elder in the Evangelical Methodist Church and has been the headmaster of Covenant Christian School for over fifteen years. He holds a bachelor degree in Business Administration from West Virginia University and a bachelor degree in Christian Education from Asbury University. He is married to Rachel, his wife of 27 years and they have four grown children, Brian, Joshua, Nathaniel and Hannah.