What Teachers Really Do On Snow Days

snowcoveredbusWith parts of the country getting slammed with historic snowfalls, a lot of schools have had to shut down. While it’s unlikely students are upset to hear they have a snow day—that is, until they realize these days will be made up in the summer – most educators don’t get the luxury of enjoying these days off.

Some believe, however, that snow days are “free days” for teachers, and a certain, unnamed late-night comedy show ran with this idea in a recent segment. But the truth of the matter is that when students are outside sledding and enjoying the snow, educators are busy working. It should also be noted that most teachers have to make up these days in the summer, so for many the work they do on a snow day is unpaid.

We recently asked our Facebook followers to tell us what they as teachers do on snow days. The feedback was incredible and we have shared some of the responses below.

Michael Dunlea: Report cards, post grades, return emails, work on upcoming staff presentations, work on my National Board Certification Entries, lesson plan, and update my class webpage.

Kimberly Pace: I have no free days, snow or not.

Randa Dietterich Hogate: Catch up on grading, create new lessons, and take a little “me time,” since that doesn’t happen often enough. I need it to keep my sanity and regain my focus. Also, how can it be a “free day “when we have to make it up?! We don’t have built-in snow days in my district.

Snow Days Mean No Pay For Some Support Professionals
Unscheduled interruptions to the school year have a dark side for many hourly and per-diem education support professionals.

Bo Gavin: Snow days are made up – therefore in reality the teacher either makes her/his way to school despite the roads or temperature, or works at home PLUS teaches on the make-up day! So in reality the district gets 2 days for the price of one!

Lexine Maine: Write lesson plans; write reports–I am a special educator and need to write reports for the students in my classes as well as the students on my caseload. Oh, and I also teach, so lesson plans, new ideas, grading, researching possible lessons/units. Additionally, I sponsor a group, so research and planning for my group. Oh, and we MAKE UP these days in the summer–so they are not really “vacation” days!

Janice Thomas: I am always planning ahead and grading papers. I also make phone calls to parents and places where we could possibly take a field trip. Anything else?

Tammy Cillessen Harden: I usually work on grading papers that I’ve got behind on, lesson plans, and try to find new ideas and resources. I need to get to the point like some other people who have commented and stop working at home. I’ve given up a lot of family time over the last 27 years for my job and I know no one else has ever really cared or appreciated it.

Jeanie Pavlus: I actually went in on the last one, and worked till 8:00 at night!

Connie Bond Kirby: Grade papers & PLAN!! I usually look for new resources to use with my current or upcoming unit and more ways to differentiate my lessons. Sometimes, I’ll sit down with the data to analyze my upcoming lessons. Very rarely do I take the time to just enjoy the “day off.”

JC Barnes: Tell you what I’m tired of having to prove to people: I’m a hard working, paper grading, lesson planning kind of teacher. I love to teach it’s what I do. It’s what all good teachers do!

  • Cat

    Days off? What’s that? We just had a four day weekend and I worked three of those days and I should have worked all four but I was just too tired.

  • Tanya

    Over the last 2 days, I’ve put in about 10+ hours grading papers and doing lesson plans. Snow days are great for getting caught up on school work!

  • Lori Schultz

    Yesterday and today will be the first days I have not worked in my classroom. The reason? I can’t get out of my own driveway because of the amount of snow on the roads in my town. However, I am working on getting my Google Classroom up and running, reading over the speeches my students will be trying to remember once we return, putting in grades, and being available by email in case my students have questions about their cybersnow work.

  • Dee

    Over 20 years of teaching….finally decided to take a snow day. I watched tv with my own kids, talked with them, fixed food together, laughed and loved being with my two children.

  • Gypsy

    I am not sure I understand the issue. The work they are doing are things they are already expected to do. I work in an office setting and no matter how bad the weather we don’t get snow days or delayed openings. I know people in finance, audit, nursing, IT and they are all salary (no overtime) yet expected to work on average 5-7 additional hours a week. That is the equivalent of a 6 day work week. I am not minimizing the efforts some teachers put forth. I just don’t see how it differs from the general working population.

    • Judwig

      You wouldn’t understand, you are not a teacher. I, along with many of those in my profession work an extra 3 or more hours a day. That is a total of 15 (or more). additional hours per week. It is even more if you consider that we don’t get a break all day – not even for lunch on most days. Also when you add the extra duties we are required to do for sporting events or other school related activities the hours continue to accumulate. We get no extra pay for these hours, nor do we get paid for the time we put in for a snow day. I worked as a salaried employee for a large company for years – trust me you won’t understand unless you become a teacher!

    • Miami teacher

      The issue is nobody doubts that you work. We are always having to defend ourselves and prove that we are hard at work all the time for the less than accurate salary. Many people think that teachers have it so good and we do because we love what do with the children. However, there is a huge misconception to the true work load and real responsibility teachers have. How many professions do you know that have to start working after they stopped working. We are “on” all day long teaching in front of the class. We have to do all the behind the scenes paperwork, plans, grades, filing, bulletin boards, emails, meetings, conferences, training, documenting, research, classroom webpages, copies, charts, data collecting and not too mention these are your regular responsibilities. In order to “earn” highly effective teacher status for merit pay you have to do “more”. I hope I’ve clarified one of the issues teachers face. However, the list is truly to long to continue.

  • Todd R. Tystad

    On my last snow day, I attended a five-hour hearing at my state legislature. Watching my state senators and witnessing the public testimony in the hearing made me proud of my state government and gave me an informed perspective that I was able to share with my students.

  • Sesame

    If you get another snow day you should check out http://www.sesamehq.com. Quickly & easily assess, document & report to curriculum standards. Its built with teachers in mind.

  • Joany McConnell Bond

    Ok, maybe I was a slacker when I taught (finished 14 years ago) but when the phone rang spreading the joyous news is a snow day I cheered loud enough to wake the neighbors. I ate breakfast and went back to bed until it was time to meet some teacher friends for lunch and shopping after the roads had been salted!

    Actually I’m very thankful I taught when I did. Much of the fun had been sucked out of it! I’m sad for teachers today. I had way more fun!