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Snow days are enjoyable on many levels

March 16, 2007|by LISA PREJEAN

"Did you enjoy your snow day?"

I can't tell you how many times people asked me that this winter. Each time school was canceled because of weather, I could almost see the envy in people's faces when they asked about my "day off." I can't say I blame them. Before I became an elementary school teacher three years ago, I felt the same way. It must be nice to be a teacher and have so much time off when it snows.

Each time I was questioned, I answered the same, "Oh, yes. My snow day was very nice."

Little did they know why the days seemed nice to me. I didn't want to try to explain. Most people do not realize the amount of time, effort and energy required to do this job and do it right. I certainly had no idea until I decided to try it.

So, why is a snow day nice for a teacher? Well, of course, it is nice to spend an entire day with my own children. We made homemade waffles and sausage for breakfast and lingered at the table. The unexpected time with my family is a definite perk to this job. When my children are off school, I'm off. I love our early-morning snow-day discussions because I learn how to better meet their needs when I listen to them. So many times they have to wait until I finish working with other children. It's nice to give them my undivided attention at home.

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They don't linger long around the table because the hills are calling, and the sleds are waiting. While they're outside playing, I take the opportunity to catch up on the work in a satchel that has essentially become an extension of my arm. This bag contains my lesson plan/grade book, papers to grade, topics to study and paperwork to complete. I never mind waiting for the doctor, dentist, hair stylist, etc., because I always have my "office" with me.

In the winter, I stash information on upcoming lessons in my bag just in case we have a snow day. Then I can use that time to prepare and plan ahead.

It's nice to be able to spread the work out on my kitchen table. Last Wednesday, I graded some creative writing stories and penmanship papers.

It felt great to spend extra time with these assignments, writing additional comments on my students' work. My job is to help them learn from their mistakes and to encourage them to keep trying.

Then it was time to finish critiquing the entries in a persuasive essay contest I had been asked to judge. I read each essay three times - once for an overview, then for mechanics and a third time for content. I like to share what I've learned over the years so the children benefit.

When that was done, my kids were coming through the door, asking for grilled cheese, tomato soup and hot cider. I headed to the stove. It was fun to hear about their snow-filled antics.

After their bellies were full and they were out the door again, I set to work revising lesson plans. The instruction I had planned for one day would be moved to the next and so on down the line. After I figured out a new schedule, I began working on a worksheet of reading comprehension questions.

I listened to a CD of songs we're considering for a chapel program for the children, cut a script down to a manageable size and studied my lesson for Sunday School, where I help to teach kindergartners.

It was such a productive day, I was very happy at dinnertime.

My son bounded through the door, asked what was for dinner and then stopped and looked at me.

"Mom, what have you been doing all day, sitting there writing in that book?" he said as he pointed to my gradebook.

"Yes, son, I got a lot done."

He shook his head and said, "What a way to spend your day off."

I smiled and replied, "Actually, dear, it was rather nice."

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at lisap@herald-mail.com.

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