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Are the Buses Cancelled? Yes!

by Neil Finney

Canadian Winter. There is nothing quite like it. Hammered by snow squalls and freezing rain warnings, teachers brave the brutal road conditions, so that learning may press on. And then – once in a while – we hear the heroic radio announcer say those exciting words…the buses are cancelled!

 So, why are these days such a treasured and storied part of the teaching profession? Why do bus cancellation days bring a wide-eyed smile to every bushy-tailed teacher who has enjoyed them? Well, put simply, we can get things done!

What do you spend your time doing when the buses are cancelled? For me, I actually think I work harder on these days than any other day. I pull resources of my shelf and plan grand units and exciting projects in the days that lie ahead. I spread piles of student work across table groups and surfaces wall-to-wall in anticipation of actually getting caught up in my marking. I sit down with teaching partners and colleagues and plot how History Fair projects could be assessed, while finding a way to infuse character themes into the lessons of our next writing form.

In short, bus cancellations give you a chance to experience that fleeting moment where the workload has been extinguished and you truly feel that you have turned a corner in your year’s teaching. You have no homework tonight.

In an intermediate class, I might typically get a handful of students when the buses are canceled. My first priority is to find out how many students the other teachers in my division have and devise a plan for pooling the classes and supervising them. Frantic phone calls to teachers who have gym time and might not need it. Racing to the library to secure the coveted computer lab for a period. Is there a tv available? Who has a projector I can use?

Schools are indeed open for student learning. Except it is more of the experiential kind today. Students will experience some of the most fun they’ve had all year and enjoy the comforts of a small group today – and with it, more attention. They will go home excited to tell home what their schedule was like and how they were on a computer (all to themselves) for an hour. These are some of the best memories they will take away from our buildings.

Think of a time that you were able to capitalize on having a small group of students. What activity did you choose to do and what made it so effective for the students?


During Neilʼs 9 years of teaching experience, he has taught in London, England; Ontario; public and private schools; elementary and secondary; junior; intermediate; core french; developmental skills; and now junior gifted (grades 4,5,6). He is a Reading Specialist that has been incorporating technology in his practice consistently throughout his career. Neil has recently published his first book entitled “Ignite. Incite. Inspire.” – Examining 21st Century Issues in Education, which is a collection of teaching articles and posts written from January to December 2011.



Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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