By Nick McDaniels – I know snow days are a very geography-specific occurrence, but, having just spent 6 full days out of work due to snow, I couldn’t resist blogging about it. In Baltimore, we got over two feet of snow from Friday through Sunday, closing schools on that Friday and for the entire following week, mostly due to hazardous travel conditions and, ultimately, no where to put the snow.
The Mid-Atlantic is prone to these crippling storms about once or twice a decade. I can remember two or three from when I was growing up and I have enjoyed another two as a teacher. For me, this means more time performing side-work as a plow operator and more time sledding with my daughter. I can’t complain. It also means, though, that I will likely have to work longer into the summer to make up the days we missed.
And while technology in snow-removal is improving to allow us to clear our streets, driveways, and sidewalks more quickly, our ability to keep students from missing valuable mid-year instructional time (this storm disrupted our mid-terms for high school students) seems to remain stuck. Well, I think our current technology could solve the problem of “winter learning loss.”
With teachers everywhere “flipping” their classrooms, we certainly have the ability to ensure students can be provided with educational content outside of the school building. Why then are we not building platforms and enacting policies whereby students and teachers can work remotely during snow days? I am proposing, quite simply, that districts enact policies that utilize their current web-based learning platforms (all districts have them!) during days of weather-related closing. Students would know, when school is cancelled, that teachers will post assignments and content, upload videos and podcasts, and even engage in live-chats with students at designated times.
If this policy could be successfully implemented, a work-from-home policy for students and teachers, then we can make a strong argument for not adding make-up days at the end of the school year.
Certainly, remote learning cannot replace face-to-face classroom time, but we are fooling ourselves if we think adding five days in June adequately substitutes for five lost days in January.