It is past time to develop an alternative strategy for those school days lost due to weather or health issues. Schools already have many internal classroom interruptions, school-wide assemblies, and testing days ( see my blog on effective school days – https://clanofcavedwellers.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/total-effective-school-days/ ) these added disruptions just increase the likelihood of student failure. To “reschedule” these lost days is absurd. Students and more importantly families, are not going to give up their vacation/Saturdays to make sure their student makes up time. Everyone’s main complaint is that teacher’s don’t have enough time to “make-up” educational exercises, and rural schools complain many of their students do not have computer access in their home.
Both are not excuses anymore. With the swell of on-line lessons, videoed classes, for all grades even through advanced degree levels, it is inexcusable for any educator to be unable to put together lessons for these rainy days. In fact it is best to incorporate into the curriculum a percentage of curriculum based lessons at the beginning of the school year. In a perfect year with no lost school days, with teacher perfect attendance, without assemblies for the entire school disrupting the educational flow, these prepared lessons would be absorbed into the normal curriculum because it is a part of the normal curriculum.
Extraneous lessons would damage the process. Having students read a novel they would otherwise not read as a part of normal class, would not work. It must be an integral part of the curricula process. With just a little professional development geared toward developing this T-school (Tech-school) lesson plans, educators will be able to compose plans for the 1 day loss but also the 10 day loss. It is a process of learning to incorporate the weekly lesson plan and the T-school lesson plans into one. One seamless process where students can and must follow along at home if they are sick, snowed in, whatever the case with what would have been the normal school schedule. Integral to this is the linking of the teacher with the students allowing for interaction, questions, directions on an as needed basis. The number of “chalkboard” type web sites available to allow interactive teacher-student-parent discussions in just off the chart. Everyone wants a chunk of the educational business.
OK how about the excuse that students do not have connectivity at home. The interesting part of my research on effective school days was to the very last student I interviewed about the impact on their education with the loss of school days, everyone had a smart phone. When asked about posting to Facebook and other social media if they do not have access at home, they go to a friends house. Not a one could not get on the internet. So for that one child that cannot get on the internet there are before school and after school activities that would allow them access to the school’s technology. Where’s there’s a will, there’s a way.
Like I said this is just past due. I’m currently watching a local school district as it struggles to figure out how to “make-up” 8 lost school days; some of which they are taking out of spring break. It is just not possible. The few students that attend school on the make-up days will not engage in effective learning because the teacher does not want to get ahead of the majority of the absent class member because they would just have to repeat it. If the teacher is there at all. As an educator I can relate: I’ve covered many absent teachers classrooms on make-up days.
So if you’re an involved parent, a pro-active educator, fix this issue in your district. It is a problem with a solution.