Experiential Learning

As you may already know if you follow my social media feeds, it has been cold here. Negative fifty kind of cold. Cold enough that all the people that take a weird level of pride in enduring life in Alaska and lording it over people that haven’t endured quite as much Alaskan life will have to back off and admit that we’ve all experienced the same level of crap now. It was cold enough that it felt like the only thing to do was get inside and hunker down for the duration and that somehow meant not even bothering with taking home my computer or cleaning the house or grading papers.

Perhaps you are wondering if schools ever cancel for extreme cold. The answer is yes! And No! It depends where you are and what the transportation situation is like. My school district has a firm policy that school will never be canceled due to extreme cold unless there are additional circumstances like ice. So we did all go to work, but all extracurricular activities through both the school and the community were canceled for two days.

The directive from our administrators was to turn our cars on and let them run as often as we could. This was easier said than done for the 6 or 7 of us that do not have remote start. A little line of us would waddle outside in our winter gear at lunch, during prep, and as soon as the last bell rang. Many of us let our cars run for an hour or more at a time. It’s good to have a full gas tank in times like these! Or you can be like me. I knew on Tuesday that I needed gas but was called out of work to go and get my violently puking child from school. Violently puking child did NOT feel like stopping for gas, gatorade, or even popsicles on the way home. I can’t imagine why. So, yes, I found myself at the gas station on Thursday morning trying to push buttons on a gas pump through several layers of gloves while the temperature hovered at -48 degrees.

The other directive from our administrators was, “Oh, hey! The reason it’s chilly in our rooms is because the boiler is broken, but we will have it fixed really quickly and I’m sure that the body heat of 700 middle schoolers running around will keep the temperature up until then!” I’m not making that up. I’m also sad to report that it does work. It wouldn’t have worked for a long period of time, but it worked for the 45 minutes it needed to. It’s one of those weird things you have to come to terms with early in a teaching career. Your students hot breath and body heat will increase the temperature in your crowded room. Gross.

How does -50 feel? Well, at first it stings everything that is exposed. It makes you cough. Within a couple of minutes your eyeballs will ache miserably and you’ll start hurting in your toes, fingers, and the rest of your face. That’s all I know because at that point you better get your rear end back inside. All of my knowledge of how it feels comes from my multiple walks to and from my truck to let it run. I was outside less than 4 minutes on each venture.

As to how it feels mentally? The last person in my house that enjoyed the snow has crossed over and now wishes the snow and cold would JUST GO AWAY! That would be Rolo.

Knock on wood, our cars weathered the weather pretty well this time. On the other hand, our satellite dish and garage door both require some winter weather maintenance. You can’t win them all.

Here are a few pictures for people considering moving to Alaska. It’s got some really nice things going for it but don’t be fooled. More often than not you get ice forming INSIDE of buildings, zero ability to see the natural splendor surrounding you, and temperatures that remind you that you are nothing more than walking meat filled with water and prone to freezing to death. Yay!

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