"The day before winter break is early release, right?" one of my students asked me today.
I told her it was.
"Are we going to do anything that day?" she asked.
I looked at her a moment before answering, trying to gauge where she was coming from. She's a good student who seems to enjoy school, so I asked her a question in response. "Do you mean anything important or do you mean anything special?"
She told me that her family was thinking of taking a day trip to Princeton, NJ, but her parents asked her and her seventh grade sister to check at school before they finalized their plans.
How to answer? The truth is that I'll be out on a personal day myself and the other teachers on the team are considering showing a movie which will have some curriculum connection, but more of the enriching kind. Still, it's not good PR to tell anyone that it's fine to miss a day of school.
When I was a kid there was never any instruction the day before winter break; it was filled with a party and other fun stuff. That's far from the case today when it seems like every bit of focus is supposed to be on accountability to standards and preparing our students for the inevitable tests at the end of the term. Of course, there are valid arguments to be made on both sides of this issue, which is one of the reasons that education is such a complex enterprise.
As for my student? I told her that she wouldn't miss anything she couldn't make up, one way or another.