November: The No-School Month

Up here in the northeastern part of the country, Hurricane Sandy kept the kiddos home for two days at the end of October.  Not what we planned on, but who’s really going to pick a fight with Mother Nature?  Unfortunately, those two days led right into what I like to call the November downhill slide.  I don’t know about any of you, but around here, November is a tough month on the mommas and very easy on the kiddos.  This week the kiddos got a day out of school for Election Day.  I know that plenty of places use school as polling places, but I feel like there has to be a better way to make Election Day work.  It’s not like the voting booths are actually set up in the classrooms. Nevertheless, it’s only once every four years and by itself, Election Day is not that big of a deal.

BUT, then there’s next week.  The kids get Monday off for Veterans’ Day observed.  Super.  I’m totally with you.  It kills Big Man that guys he works with who have served their country loyally do not get Veterans’ Day as a holiday from their company.  That is a crime.  I honestly and truly mean that.  We should be ashamed of ourselves for not thanking our veterans enough, but that is another post for another day.  HOWEVER, then Wednesday AND Thursday are half days for my kiddos because of parent teacher conferences.  Two half days?!?  The same week as Veterans’ Day?!?  And what happened to having all of the parent teacher conferences after school and at night?  I clearly remember hanging out in the hallway after school with Lil Sis while mom went to conferences with our teachers.  Now before you call me out and tell me how busy teachers are, and how we don’t want to keep them at school too late, let’s remember that I AM A TEACHER.  I might be teaching at the college level now, but I started out at the high school level.  I teach because I love it and because I believe that education is important.  And part of that process is the routine and not disrupting it every five seconds.  I know that high school teachers do not have annual parent teacher conferences with every child’s parent, but I would argue that grading AP Calculus homework (at home on my own time) is much more time consuming and happened more than once per school year.  And I answered parent emails and attended conferences with parents whenever needed.  But I did it because that was the job that I knowingly signed up to do and loved.  If both of my kids were in school full time, I would go back to teaching high school math in a heartbeat.  (High. School. Math.  Yes, I would.)

Anyway, I do not want to go all negative on teachers either.  It’s a hard job that not everybody is up to. So let’s move on to the third week of November.  Wednesday, November 21.  Half day for the kiddos.  Thursday, November 22.  Thanksgiving, no school.  Friday, November 23.  No school.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday ever, so no complaints there.  But now we’re at the fourth week of November and it’s the only full week of school that my kids have all month.  Then three more full weeks until Christmas vacation.  Which will be followed by Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, then February vacation, and more teacher in-service days, holidays and vacations.   Come on November! Could we just spread things out a little better?

That’s just the scheduled stuff.  As I sit typing this post we are having our first snowfall of the season.  In early November.  It is actually piling up quite quickly and I’m wondering if I’m actually going to have to shovel the driveway for Big Man to make it up the hill  to the garage later.  We had very little snowfall last year and thus, very few snow days.  We are waaaay due this year.  This afternoon seems to be providing evidence that I will be spending some quality time at home with the kiddos due to snow this school year.  Clearly, I can’t say that there will definitely be snow days this year, but thirty-six years of living in New England and a brain that loves statistics is calling that a safe bet.

Now, it is not that I don’t want to spend time with my kids or think that teachers are being lazy.  I am one of those people who loves routine.  I like knowing what’s next.  I tend to wake up just moments before my alarm clock because it goes off at the same time every day.  I eat the same thing for breakfast almost every day, and ditto for lunch.  Whether it’s in their little DNA or it’s because of the environment I’m raising them in, my kids do better with routine as well.  Not to say that we can’t roll with it when need be, but should we need to roll with it every week? November is not a month for routine and it throws everybody off, parents and children alike.  More importantly, it’s only the beginning.  And it’s not just us.  Even moms who aren’t routine junkies like me have trouble with November around here.  I know that there are mothers who just don’t want to be left alone with their kids for any amount of time, and I have my moments, but for the love!  Send the kids to school already!   I can find things for us to do, and I do find things for us to do.  But November, really?  I’d love to see the statistics on the number of mothers who post on Facebook about needing a drink during the month of November.

Then there’s the educational aspect.  The performance of our students on the international level is appalling, embarrassing even.  But, what the heck?  Let’s make the entire month of November a party!  I don’t think that kids need to be strapped to their desks endlessly, but there is something to be said for the amount of disruption that is really and truly necessary.  Even when our kids are in school, time is lost, so why add to that by loading one month with so many days off and half days?  That’s without thinking about the countless hours of true educational time that is lost prepping students for a variety of standardized tests that I would very strongly believe in if they were well written, administered efficiently, and were truly used as reflective assessment.  But those tests aren’t well written, administered efficiently, or used as true reflective assessment (and that is another entirely different post for another day).  But who cares?  It’s November, so let’s party!

I’ve been told that I can be somewhat hardcore about well, just about everything, so feel free to call me out on this one, but I just don’t get November.  Maybe it’s the excessive time spent alone with the small peeps who have melt downs when the Skylanders app eats their gems but doesn’t let them buy a new character, or the ridiculous amount of snow out my window (it’s a dusting, but in early November, that’s ridiculous to me), but if any of you can explain November to me, I’m all ears!  Anybody need a cocktail?

Jen

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