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A Reimagined Snow Day

The rarity of snow in the south and our consequential inability to handle winter weather causes severe complications when there is any hint of frozen precipitation in Georgia. This is no different for our school systems.
Because Gwinnett County Public Schools aims to provide a world-class education, Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks, firmly commits to students receiving 180 days of education. This, in turn, has led to a variety of responses to missed days caused by inclement weather.

In years past, students have made-up the canceled days on pre-scheduled holidays, specifically intended to be snow-makeup days. One year, students missed a number of days beyond that covered by the built-in snow-makeup days, and school hours were extended by thirty minutes for several weeks.

For the 2017-2018 school year, however, Gwinnett County Public Schools implemented Digital Learning Days. If school could not be in session due to inclement weather, teachers would upload lessons and assignments to Gwinnett County Public Schools’ student portal, eClass, and students would complete any schoolwork for the day at home.

I feel that I learned the most from my orchestral assignments. Opposed to the group rehearsal that occurs in class on a normal school day, I was able to reposition my view of the music, approaching it from the perspective of an evaluator rather than a performer. For the assignment, I was to print the score, a piece of music containing the music of all parts of the orchestra, and read along while listening to a reference recording. I then did the same read-along, this time while listening to a high school group’s performance.

While this assignment was very different from what I am used to, I greatly appreciated it. I feel that the exercise of looking at the music from a different perspective and evaluating it more as a whole, opposed to my specific part, has allowed me to be more considerate of the other parts of my orchestra, delivering a more dynamic performance. Because the idea of Digital Learning Days is still relatively young, there were a few bumps in the process, and educators were tasked with creating new, creative assignments to develop students’ understanding under less-than-ideal circumstances. However, this lead to new approaches and breakthroughs in understanding and further development of perspective.