Quick Rant: Snow Days and Winter Vacation

Published 1/5/14 by:

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Background information:

I teach sixth grade English (or language arts, or language & literacy – it’s all the same) at a middle school. We don’t call ourselves a junior high because we encompass grades 5-8 (10-14 year old people), and so we’re really “the middle”. Most public schools have a full day of school on December 23rd (it’s torture for both adults and children), and then the winter break begins on December 24th. This year a miracle happened: Christmas was on a Wednesday, so the scheduling gods made the brilliant decision to not have school on Monday December 23rd because they assumed most families would travel to their destinations over the weekend, and attendance would be very low. On the other end of the vacation is New Year’s Day. This year January 1st was a Wednesday, so it meant that not only did we get almost two full weeks off, but when we returned, it was to a two day work week!

I don’t want to hear all of your boos about how teachers have the easiest schedule of all time, because honestly: homeroom starts at 7:30am at my school, and the amount of (unpaid) overtime I do creating (dynamic) lesson plans, grading essays or quizzes, and pre-reading novels that I may want to teach our youth would make you weep for me. Loudly. In Massachusetts a funny thing happened at the end of our break. As teachers (and students) prepared to head back to school on Thursday the 2nd, it was announced that we were going to have a 48 hour Nor’Easter which could plop anywhere between 8 and 30 inches of snow in our yards. The snow day buzz started early on this one, folks. In the end, my school (smartly) toughed it out on Thursday and had a full day of school, and we had Friday off. I went back to a one day work week, which wasn’t very productive, or well-attended. Over 200 schools in Massachusetts canceled school on Thursday, and some schools (mostly private) had finagled their schedule so that students weren’t returning to campus until Monday January 6th. Teachers have been spoiled, as have the kids., but according to multiple media feeds, parents have been “suffering” through this long break.

Quick Rant

Full disclosure: I’m not a parent. I have nannied, taught swim lessons, been a camp counselor, and taught elementary and middle school (combined) for over a decade. I get that kids make you weary. I understand that kids have meltdowns. What I can’t understand is parents moaning and groaning about the opportunity to spend two weeks with their kids. Parents are jokingly threatening to kill their kids if we don’t head back to school for a full five day week on Monday. The parents have had it. They’re at their wit’s end. So here’s the rub: I’m with your kids ALL.THE.TIME. I spend more (awake) hours per week with your kid than you do. It’s a fact. Numbers don’t lie. So when you (parents) start complaining about being blessed with a two week vacation with your kids I have a problem. And don’t even get me started on the fact that you think your kids are such a burden, but you didn’t even have them write their teacher(s) a holiday note saying, “thanks for being my teacher”. Wake up, folks. As the great Coach Taylor (of “Friday Night Lights”) once said, “These kids of ours? It’s a one time deal.”

End of rant.

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