What's an Inch?

Since we've returned from winter break my 2nd graders have been learning about measurement. Ironically, the metro area of Atlanta received approximately two inches of snow on Tuesday of this week.

Believe me, this is a measurement they are not likely to forget. As any good teacher, I will take this experience back to my classroom and actually create an educational moment out of it. Between my personal photos and the ones all over the internet of the snow, the cars piled in lines for miles and miles, the amount of time it took people to drive from point A to point B the actual lessons I can teach in my classroom are numerous. That's not even mentioning real-life lessons.

I dare say the same for the powers that be. Fear not, I will not turn this into a political debate. I'm not even an extreme political person. I'm actually a somewhat simple person. Think smart. Treat people with kindness. Accept responsibility.

I saw most people do this. Most people, except people in charge.

I heard the reports with the rest of this city and nation. My principal even had our school have a fire drill on Monday afternoon because the weather was only supposed to be nice that day and perhaps snow the very next day. She was correct. Monday afternoon was gorgeous. 

On Tuesday morning, despite reports that the storm was going to come earlier than expected, I bundled up and headed on my way to school, not quite knowing what my day may hold since it was only 6:30 in the morning and I was scheduled to teach all day and have class until 8:30 at night.

As every teacher I work with arrived at school in below freezing temperatures you could tell something about the day was slightly different. By 8:00 in the morning, as students were still coming into my classroom, my principal had come on the loud speaker telling teachers to double check all of our students' backpacks and be sure every single one of them had a legible bus tag and were ready for dismissal. Yes, she does this from time to time, but not at 8:00 a.m. Being one of the largest elementary schools in Gwinnett county (approximately 1970 students) we don't like for students to miss the bus. On Tuesday morning though, I knew the underlying message behind the announcement was, "Do this now, because we may have to dismiss early!"

Thank goodness - thank goodness someone was preparing some type of plan, any type of plan.

As the day went on, I was unaware as to how the weather conditions were growing. My job is to teach, and that's what I did. We learned about fables and fairytales. We learned about opinion writing (discussing what we may wish to change in our State and Country and what would we write to the President). I even told my students that the State of the Union would be on television that night and that maybe they should watch for some ideas <-- how little did I know? I keep thinking about my student who asked if it would be on channel 5 because that's the channel he watches to find out if we have school when the weather is bad.

It was lunch time and while my students were in the cafeteria I finally had a moment. I glanced out the window - snow flurries. I checked my email - the teacher of my night class had cancelled it long before Gwinnett ever decided to. I picked my students up from lunch, the flurries were larger and now coming down harder. Around 1:00 my principal sent an email to find out which teachers lived south of our school. She allowed us to leave. I did not abandon my students. Of the 12 teachers on my grade-level, I am the only one who lives south. So, I left my students in extremely capable hands. My county never closed school early. We were one of the only counties without any students stranded on buses or at schools. Perhaps it was the right decision. Maybe it wasn't. Teachers and staff spent hours and hours trying to get home, some never making it and having to sleep in hotel lobbies or their cars (my 2.5 hours seemed like cake). I commend my principal in this instance. She didn't wait. She looked out for her teachers and staff. The people in charge did not. Maybe it was just a catch 22. Had I waited to leave, I very well could have been stranded too.

Then I watched the news. Our Governor said this was unexpected. Should I alert him to a teacher's alarm schedule? I saw the report when I got ready for school, not to mention the day before. However, what the city of Atlanta's Mayor said hurt the most, claiming that the "interstates are not [his] responsibility". And that my friends is the problem. That's what's wrong with our society, with education, within our schools, and sometimes our students. If it is not our responsibility why should we do anything? Don't look at me, it wasn't my job! It's like when there's a crayon or piece of paper on the floor in my classroom and everyone just looks at it rather than picks it up because "it's not mine". <--- that's exactly what happened in the city of Atlanta.

I, for one, am ashamed. I hope none of my students heard him. I hope my students saw the kindness. In the midst of this crisis what arose was a glimpse of humanity, a glimpse of people helping people and strangers helping strangers. I don't think any of them said, it is not their responsibility. Yes, Mr. Reed, you may be correct, the interstates aren't your responsibility. But you're supposed to be a leader. While you are warm in your North Face jacket being defensive, some of us are helping people whether it is our responsibility or not because you and many other leaders made mistakes. So let's learn about 2 inches and ace the next test. We've failed this one miserably.

Oh, and if any of you would like to come to my classroom I'll be happy to show you how we pick something up whether it was ours or not.
Back to Top