Missed Days are coming. Depending on where you live (I live in the Northeast) snow days may be a real problem for your school this winter. This is especially true if you live in a rural district with limited road crews. It's around this time of year I start hearing suggestions like "Blizzard Bags" and other ways that schools can combat the loss of time due to these unscheduled days off.
Whether we like it or not, chances are you may have a few free days off this year (I know you're tearing up just thinking about it), and you will probably miss some instructional time with your students. I'm going to tell you right now though, you (and more importantly) your district, should stop worrying about it.
The Fundamental Problem with this idea is that it assumes that TIME is the most important factor in a student's learning. The entire premise is that if a student misses a certain amount of time, they need to "make up" that time. It is also assumed that it is not the learning or the content that is important, but just that, once again, the amount of lost time is made up with a certain amount of work.
The focus of classroom, school, or district should always be LEARNING and Mastery of content. The concept of time-based learning is out-dated, archaic, and pointless in today's 21st century classrooms. By adding additional (and usually pointless) work via "blizzard bags" or "make-up assignments" to replace lost instruction, we are sending a very odd message to students.
Many times these assignments are created to be generic or "evergreen," which means they can be used at any time during the winter season without considering the content being covered in class. This means that after "X" amount of days off a student can complete this un-aligned, un-targeted and potentially useless work for no reason other than to say that "work was done."
The solution is making sure that students experience Mastery Based Learning (sometimes called Competency Based Learning). This would mean that, by definition, time is much more flexible and matters much less than the actual learning taking place or mastery of the content.
If students are able to learn in a structured system that focuses on competent learning of information rather than how long a they sit in their seat, the equation suddenly changes. Not only would a Mastery Based system allow students to continue working regardless of their location, it would allow them to continue learning via meaningful and targeted experiences.
This would also mean that schools and districts (maybe even states) could do away with make-up days and focus more on make-up learning.
The other fundamental shift that has to occur is the realization that time does not = learning. It is the learner's ability to master the material that is and ALWAYS should be the focus of the educational system. When this shift occurs things like snow days, assemblies, or any other distraction from the normal schedule simply don't matter.
Hopefully, you are looking at those missed days a little different after reading this. Hopefully, the educational system will start to do the same.