A Digital Learning Day comes with the fanfare of a regular snow day, and while each break from school is certainly memorable, a Digital Learning Day offers opportunities that a normal break cannot.
With Digital Learning Days, I gained an appreciation for the behind-the-scenes planning and structuring of a conventional school day. With the usual digital complications that come with every educational technological element – in-school or not – I was able to see my teachers’ struggles or triumphs in real time. With each mishap, I would receive hastily typed-out blog entries on their online pages or texts written in all-caps, apologizing and promising to resolve the issue immediately.
Not only did I feel more personally connected to my teachers, the collective experience of having a Digital Learning Day – whether students were in the same classes or even the same school in Gwinnett County – brought students together, whether it was through updates on social media or, like their teachers, the same apologetic texts asking how to answer a certain problem or how to find a document online.
Digital Learning Days also bring peace and goodwill to students (and I’d like to think, their adult complements as well, from teachers to parents). These days often come with inclement weather, and even when students can be overwhelmed with assignments on Digital Learning Days, they are also more likely to go outside and enjoy the simple pleasures of a nice day – and at the end of the day, isn’t a reminder of the good things in life just as important as a good education?
A student who lives in New York or a more northern location might scoff at the idea of snow being magical, but snow in Gwinnett County is able to bring anxiety-ridden teenagers back to their childhood selves when snow was (and is!) enough to bring a grin to their faces. Mental health among teenagers often goes unmentioned, but just as getting enough sleep or creating meaningful relationships with others are important to teenagers’ well-being, snow days can be, too.
In elementary school, I would wish for a Christmas miracle – in this case, the miracle being snow – and perhaps I was right to think of snow in that way. It continues to offer me solace in a stressful world.