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Snow Days in the 21st Century

SNOW DAY!

Today is our first snow day for the year. I’m reminiscent of snow days in the past. Much has changed thanks to technology!

Imagine if you will setting up “Calling Trees” in the fall so that everyone is notified of the late start or snow day. The principal would call two staff members, they in turn called two, and so on. That worked fine, if the person you were calling answered the phone! What if they were talking to someone else? What if they happened to be outside shoveling snow?  (No voice mail, no caller ID, no answering machines, and NO CELL PHONES!)

On one such day, I was home. I was in the house. I waited for the call. I waited and listened for the school announcements on the radio & television (no announcements at the bottom of the screen, no internet to check, no automatic text messages!). The weather on that particular day wasn’t pleasant, but with no call, I only had one choice to make – start driving my 20 minute commute to school. When I arrived at school, the parking lot was basically empty! I stopped in at the office, only to be told school had been canceled. On my drive home, I was pretty upset I didn’t get “the call.” When I got home, I discovered the mistake was MINE. My phone was off the hook!

Last night, within seconds of a late start announcement I received a text message as did many others. Facebook statuses also quickly announced the news. The same held true this morning when the late start was changed to a SNOW DAY.

Technology has changed the way we communicate. Important messages can be delivered to numerous people within seconds. At the school level, this quick form of communication frees up time. One example is the fact that traditional staff meetings can now focus on professional learning! (We would develop the “calling tree” mentioned above at a staff meeting, which sometimes turned into a lengthy process.) Messages can be delivered to staff in writing (such as weekly newsletters, blog posts, emails, etc…) providing the opportunity for all to be informed. Available time usually allotted for staff meetings can be used for professional growth and collaboration to meet the needs of the students! What better way to show case schools as “learning schools!”

If we think even deeper (not in terms of snow) perhaps snow days in the 21st century can take on a whole different meaning. Quick communication of an event or message is one thing, but the ability to extend learning through online collaboration is another! If we believe in extending learning beyond the classroom walls, can’t that happen even if students are not surrounded by the classroom walls in the first place? Something tells me this type of scenario is already happening!

Now, can someone invent a way that the snow can be removed instantly so I do not need to spend the afternoon shoveling. (Yes, it is probably about time to purchase a snow blower!) Since it is still snowing, I think I’ll wait and have one more cup of coffee & curl up with a good book or continue to extend my own learning by going through my Google Reader that has piled up as deep as the snow outside! I love learning for other bloggers, this extra time is a blessing!)

Stay safe & warm in this winter wonderland! For those not in the snow, here’s a little video to enjoy.

Photo credit: cc licensed flickr photo by Sebastian Cartes: http://flickr.com/photos/sebastiancartes/4335538238/

3 Comments

  • Aviva (@grade1) 10 Jan

    Great post, Kathy! You’re right: the nature of Snow Days has changed. Now when it’s a Snow Day here, I email all of the parents in the school and send out a tweet with the information too. There’s no more phone tree, that’s for sure.

    Thanks for reminding us of these changes! Hope you enjoyed your day off!
    Aviva

    • Kathy Perret 10 Jan

      My day was full of shoveling. Good exercise, right!

      If we’ve seen these changes in our life times, I can only imagine what’s in store for this next generation of students! They will be reminiscing about i Pods Touches, i Pad, Twitter, Blogs, etc… Just as we are to cassette tape players (and even 8-Track Players and LPs) and the days before cell phones, microwaves, etc…

      Kathy

  • Rusha Sams 12 Jan

    Some school systems in surrounding counties have online work posted for students to do during snow days. I don’t know how it’s working, but it sure beats having kids stay home for five or six days with little to do. Thanks for this blog — it made me think about snow days in a different way!

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