The freeze allows me to thaw

Shockingly cold winter weather has struck the heartland, and that can only mean one thing. Snow days! (or in our case the last two days, dangerous freezing temperature days.)

We knew some dangerous sounding weather was on the horizon, so on Monday and Tuesday I had numerous conversations with coworkers where we pretended to be meteorologists and started predicting which days of school would get called off.  I was pretty sure that since it was supposed to feel like -30 with the wind chill on Wednesday morning that we wouldn’t be risking the safety of staff and students by coming to school.  I was right, and we even got the call at 3:30 on Tuesday afternoon, so there was no scrolling through closure lists all night.

However, we got an extra call this morning.  This morning at 4:45 am to be exact.  The weather hadn’t let up, and it was still dangerously cold, so we got another day.

The range of my emotions throughout the last week have gone something like this.

Monday – Tuesday: Man, I could really use a break, January is a tough month at school and it would be really nice to get a breather.  I could also use my newfound time to do some grading and get all caught up.  Oh, maybe we should just power through it.  The school year could end sooner if we don’t use all of our snow days.  I don’t know what I really want

Tuesday afternoon – Thank goodness they called it early, now I can prepare and get all caught up. Wait a second, tomorrow is a block day.  That means when we go back on Thursday we’ll be off and I’ll have to fix my lesson plans.

Wednesday night – I’m exhausted.  I worked all day and I still have a ton of work left to do this weekend.  I’ll be grading essays until the day I die.  Wait a second, what’s this?  Schools are starting to close tomorrow?  Well, it’s 10 pm, and I don’t see my school on the list, guess I’ll go to bed. I really have stuff that needs to get done tomorrow, and my newspaper kids definitely need to do some work, we’re on deadline.  I hope we just go to school like normal.

Thursday (4:45 am) – I’m fast asleep, but we get the call.  I try to go back to sleep, but my mind is racing.  There is so much that needs to be altered now, where do I even begin? Well, looks like I’m awake, let’s start figuring out everything I have to do today.

Thursday night – It happened again.  I worked all day long and I am really close to being done with everything, but still not 100%.  How did I get this far behind?  We’ve only been in school for four weeks?  Now they are saying freezing rain?  If we don’t get the newspaper done tomorrow it could set back the whole semester.  This is just getting ridiculous.  We better not get another call.

I don’t intend to brag about the fact that we got days off.  I know I work in a profession where many of my colleagues already feel the need to explain that we do work the same amount of work as other professionals, despite what outsiders see as massive breaks of time.  I don’t want to brag about getting magical days off in the middle of a week (days that are made up later, by the way). I know other people (my wife included) were working these last two days, and that it is a perk of my job as a teacher.

But is it really a perk?

As I sat in Creative Writing club on Tuesday and spoke with some other teachers, we were all really excited about the opportunity to have an extra day.  Yes, it would be a day off, when we didn’t have to set an alarm or figure out what was needed to set up classes for the day.  However, we were all talking about how great it would be to have a day to catch up on work.

I’m sure there were teachers living it up the last few days, enjoying the random free time in the week and not stressfully planning how to go back to a one-off Friday of school after a surprise two day break. However, I’m sure that, like me, many teachers were working at home, catching up on grading, altering lesson plans, or knocking off chunks of the long-range chore list that builds up over a school year.

I needed these snow days, because I needed dedicated days to actually work.  Most days at school are spent putting out metaphorical fires left and right, so when the day finally comes to an end, I just physically can’t stand to stay in my room and grade essays.  I usually go on marathon grading jags on the weekend and just hide myself from my family for hours at a time, but now I’ll get to be a family member this weekend, and that makes me happy.

I’m glad these two days happened, even though I’ll be pretty upset when our school year keeps dragging out at the end of the semester.  While I know most people don’t get to experience them (growing up in California, snow days weren’t even a blip on our radar), and these last two days played with my emotions, they are going to help my mental health in the long run, which means better work in the classroom. I’m not happy that I was so excited to get extra work time, but I’m happy that my grading is mostly done for the time being and I can focus on other things moving forward.

Did I mention we start another essay tomorrow‽


P.S.: Yes, I just found the interrobang keyboard shortcut.  That’s really dangerous for the future!

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