A feeling of anticipation had been building since Monday’s weather report. But when I checked the news Wednesday morning, I learned there was to be no snow day. I felt like a kid who woke up on Christmas morning with no presents. As a Jew I should have been better prepared for this feeling, but I wasn’t.
I wasn’t sure how reliable the subways would be, so I rushed out the door. Lo and behold, I got to school in record time, and walked up to my building about 40 minutes earlier than usual. I would have a little time to breathe and settle in for once before picking up the kids, I thought. But inside, it was all hands on deck.
Most of the teachers in my school commute from New Jersey, Long Island, or Westchester County, so we had 36 teachers absent. I wasn’t surprised, but at the same time the number was mind-boggling. The list of classes in need of coverage, usually three or four names long, was three columns long.
If it hadn’t been for the low turnout of students our school would have been in an even bigger state of chaos. My class had 14 of 28 students in attendance, but this was one of the highest in the school. Most of the grades were grouped in one classroom.
It was a little stressful at first, but at the same time the school pulled together really nicely. Preps were moved around, lunch times were aggregated and the after-school program was canceled, all without incident. Throughout the experience, my principal was visibly involved with the process of making the day run smoothly, even helping out with lunch duty. Coffee and doughnuts were provided for teachers and she made a thank-you announcement over the loudspeaker. I felt incredibly grateful to have a principal who didn’t pass the buck today.
Meanwhile in the classroom, the kids were ecstatic to have so much extra breathing room and attention. I used the opportunity to focus on some fundamentals that needed review. We practiced summarizing non-fiction texts, writing a paragraph with a topic sentence and supporting details, and using arrays (made of Skittles as a little reward for making it to school) to model division.
It’s hard to say with all the absences and chaos that must’ve taken place across the city whether school should have been canceled or not. But I feel like a lot of teachers were surprised by the way the day turned out. I know plenty of us even felt like today was still pretty relaxing even though we were at work. In any case spending a day teaching a group of students who really want to be there is about as good as it gets.
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