Snow Day, Good. Timing, Bad

Usually snow days are a teacher’s best friend. However, like most teachers at the end of the semester, I had a long list of tasks to accomplish and was looking forward to two days alone in my classroom with no students to distract me. WiDA ACCESS testing has taken up every testing block — that is, when I wasn’t giving a Semester Final Exam — and I had zero time to grade papers and plan for next semester. I was also looking forward to clearing out old papers, cleaning and getting materials organized. I’m going to be sharing my classroom now with another teacher because we’ve got 18 newcomer students and her classroom is too small. So she’s moving into my classroom during my planning periods, and I will be exiled to the office. I don’t mind, but my clutter is an embarrassment.

When I heard the weather forecasts, I stayed late on Thursday and graded all my semester exams — including the exam for a student who showed up late for a “make up exam” without any warning. Even though she had failed the first quarter, had failed the second quarter and had 19 absences, my department chair and my administrator both said to let her take the test. I was feeling conflicted about the whole thing, but they confirmed my natural instinct to give students the benefit of the doubt. Our grading policy says that a student who gets a C on a final exam can still pass the semester, even with the above profile! On the one hand, I want to ask: Why bother coming to school? Why bother doing any work? On the other hand, I understand the difficult circumstances of some students and how my giving her a passing semester grade might make her life just a little easier; maybe this will be the little break she needs in order to succeed next semester and in life.

So I sit at home watching the snow fall, trying to catch up on my reading-for-pleasure, all while feeling a little guilty that I’m not preparing a scope-and-sequence for the three different classes I will teach starting on Tuesday. And what about my reflections on the Student Learning Objective that is due January 29th? And did I file the quarterly COSY report?

I think I’ll go shovel some snow and curl up with Gone Girl, which I’ve been wanting to read forever.


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Eva K. Sullivan teaches English Language Learners in Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland. She was an English Language Fellow with U.S. Department of State during the 2017-2018 school year, working with the Ministry of Education in Laos, Southeast Asia. She writes short stories, personal essays, and has completed a memoir about her experiences as an expat in West Africa in the 1990s.

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