Teachers say flexibility is key when it comes to snow days and schedules


By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 10:28 am on Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Montabella High School was closed Tuesday, as were all local schools, but the hallways were still filled with the voices and laughter of children — very young children, that is.

Ryan Roberts, a science teacher at Montabella, brought his 5-year-old and 2-year-old children to the school so they could get out of the house and run around while Roberts caught up on classwork.

“They’re running all over the place, up and down the halls,” he chuckled. “There’s nobody else here.”

Roberts has been forced to be adapt to multiple snow days this winter, as have teachers throughout Ionia and Montcalm counties, but Roberts takes it all in stride.

“We live in Michigan so we kind of expect that to happen,” he said. “We have to be flexible in order to accommodate things.”

Roberts said snow days have disrupted the continuity of the typical classroom schedule, but he doesn’t think students are becoming too distracted during this phase.

“They’re just getting used to not being at school,” he said. “I think they’re enjoying the time off. At this time of year too, the days are short and there’s not much sunshine and sometimes you just need a mental health day. I think that serves as something healthy too, so you’re not overwhelmed. You appreciate an unexpected break.”

Dan Willison, a world history teacher at Lakeview High School, said Monday of last week was supposed to be review day for final exams, but everything was thrown off due to snow days. As a result, Willison chose to go with a shorter version of the final exam and his class utilized some of the 85-minute exam period as a review time to replace some of what they had missed.

Also, Willison’s world history class didn’t get through the final unit they normally complete for the first semester, so Willison decided to eliminate it from consideration for the final exam, which also alleviated some material from needing review.

“It certainly has been a wild ride this winter,” Willison said. “Continuity is obviously suffering due to Mother Nature this year.”

Brad Wilson, a health and physical education teacher for Belding High School, said things can move at a frantic pace when it comes to the world of teachers and schedule adjustments.

“At times, teachers are forced to veer from their lesson plans and take advantage of teachable moments and/or address situations that they did not see coming while planning their lessons,” he said. “Snow days are certainly no exception. It comes with the territory. The good news is that teachers are very good at going with the flow.”

Wilson said he believes snow days affect students more than teachers.

“Students need routine in their day,” he said. “The slightest change can affect the focus of a classroom and the effectiveness of their comprehension. Teachers understand that even though shortened weeks and snow days are a pain, they happen and we adjust.

“At the end of the day, assignments, tests and exams can all be worked out through careful planning,” he added. “Life usually doesn’t work out perfectly and putting a fork in the road occasionally prepares students for life after high school, and also makes it fun.”

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