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Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Hello, my name is Mister Teacher, and I work for the Yo-Yo Independent School District.

This morning, we had what is known around the world as "freak weather." Sure, up north, freezing rain and a quarter inch layer of ice may not be considered freaky, but down here in Texas, the only thing freakier is Matthew McConaughey's bongo-playing habits.

So I wake up around a quarter till 6 this morning, and the radio dudes are talking about how bad the roads are and how a lot of schools are closing. So I did what I do every morning at 5:45 -- I hit the snooze button. Ditto for nine minutes later. However, a little after 6, I got out of bed and wandered into the living room to watch the TV. Apparently it was snowing, if the television reporters and their immediate surroundings were painting an honest picture. All four of the major stations had crawls on the bottom of the screen, listing all of the schools that were closing and/or opening late. One district was conspicuously absent. You guessed it, Dallas ISD.

Now the policy has always been that school closings are announced on TV by 6:05AM. I sat there and watched the crawl on all four stations to be sure, and Dallas ISD was not listed on any of them.

So I reluctantly began the process of showering, getting dressed, getting in gear, and getting out of the house. As soon as I pulled out of the garage, I felt like I was being salted from above. Small pieces of freezing rain had left a layer of frost on the ground, with more being added every moment.

To make a long story short, my journey to the school took nearly twice the time that it normally takes, but I did arrive in one piece. Out in the parking lot, I encountered two of my fellow teachers engaged in conversation. One of them, like me, was just arriving; the other, was leaving. She told us that school had been canceled after all, and that we could go home.

Sweet -- just what I wanted to do. Get right back out onto the road.

But then, another teacher stuck her head out the door and announced that school had once again been declared open. I couldn't help but get a mental image of one of those plastic bobbing bird toys. Head goes down, school is closed. Head goes up, school is open.

As indecision goes, this seemed to be pretty major. However, it didn't hold a candle to what was going on with the kids. Come to find out later, the buses did in fact leave the "bus barn" at their normal appointed time to pick up the kids. Midway through their route, though, they were told that school had been closed and recalled back to where they had started. THAT'S why I didn't see a single bus pass by during my morning crosswalk duty today. When I got back inside at 7:45 and mentioned that to the principal, she told me that the buses had just been sent back out to pick the kids up.

Now think about this for a second. If YOUR kids were out there waiting on the school bus at the normal time, and it was snowing, and it was 27°F, and maybe you had to use the bathroom pretty bad, and the bus never came -- would you really stand around for more than an hour on the off chance that the bus might be coming late? Well, neither did most of our parents and kids.

By nine o'clock, Mrs. Educator and I had a combined total of 10 kids. Most of them had been dropped off by their parents, though one, maybe two of them came on the late bus.

So as far as that was concerned, it was a nice day. We put all 10 in my room for the first 2 1/2 hours, and the kids and I talked about weather and the difficulty that goes into making accurate forecasts. Then after lunch, Mrs. Educator tagged in and did some reading activities with them while I got a nice new bulletin board completed.

I just hope that we don't have to go through exactly the same thing tomorrow morning, here in the Yo-Yo ISD. Because if we expect our kids to learn from their mistakes, I certainly hope that our adults can as well.


Mrs. T said...

That's insane. What happened to the teachers who already left?
I once drove 40 miles to my job in a blizzard, only to get there and find that school had just been cancelled. Now, I have like a 5 minute drive to work- my car doesn't even warm up in the time it takes me to get to school.
I bet you enjoyed your day with just the 10 kids.

Airam said...

These are my driving conditions from December to April every year.

And our school NEVER closes ... just cancelled buses which means nothing because kids still come in. Oh and if the roads are REALLY REALLY bad, then we are given the option of going to a school close to where we live.


Anonymous said...

I see that "good judgement" is an international trait in education.
Love that t-shirt!

100 Farmers said...

300 students out of 1300 at our middle school. We turned out to be very well-payed babysitters. Ever notice that it's the students that you really could take a break from that alway show up? Thank goodness for the magic of the rollable TV/DVD combo.

Unknown said...

Something similar happened to our district once....only it started off as a two hour delay, the it started snowing again in the middle of the school day, and they decided to dismiss early.........bad call! It was 9:30 before the last student had made it home. To this day, they make the call and stick with it. Parents were so irate that time, that they don't want to deal with the backlash again (and the media coverage).

IMC Guy said...

This was pretty good - shows how some administrators think - or don't. I took my daughter to school before I found out about a snow day earlier this year.

educat said...

Oh dear. Here in the OC, we haven't been in school all week. It's hard to enjoy a vacation while knowing you'll still be in school in July.


CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

Sometimes I hate myself when I'm indecisive, but to have a principal (or superintendent) waffle when deciding whether to call a snow day or not is ridiculous. If they called the snow day, they should have stuck with it. Period.

IB a Math Teacher said...

It happened here in Minnesota last year when my district didn't make a decision quick enough. But here the windchills are negative 27 degrees, and some elementary kids have to get to school by 7:15, so they were standing at corners in the dark at 6:45 in the morning.

Later, the decision was that schools weren't cancelled, but buses were! At least the district had to deal with irate parents for days.

Nic said...

100 farmers wrote: "Ever notice that it's the students that you really could take a break from that alway show up?"

That's because their parents can't stand them, either.

Mister Teacher said...

Yeah, that would seem to be true, nic. We often have to tell parents, "NO, your child may NOT come to summer school, Saturday school, and/or afterschool tutoring just because you see it as more of a free babysitting service."