Teachers are constantly getting pulled, stretched, and worked over, just like the salt taffy made back in the day by the Utah pioneers. " Squeeze in this new reading program." "Integrate the arts." "Teach 180 minutes of language arts each day." "Can we come talk to your students about a haiku contest? about their dental health? about safety around power lines?"
One way I manage to feel less stretched and calm, despite all these well-intentioned efforts to steal away my teaching time is that I have very clear priorities. In no particular order, here they are:
Math--everyday---no matter what. I'll shave off some time, if needed, but we "do" math every day, usually for an hour.
Poetry---this is a new one for me, but I haven't missed a day yet and I am luvvving the Nancie Atwell "Naming the World" model.
Independent Reading---between 30 and 50 minutes, every day. Every day. All year.
Writing---at least 4 days a week I make sure my students have a 50 minute writing workshop.
There are other things that I do each day, like spelling, vocabulary, and "punctuation practice", but they're not on my list of things I can't ever skip. I also teach science and social studies, but I like to do three week units and alternate between the two; we're still learning about Egypt, but by the last week in September we'll be studying microbes during that same hour each day.
I was raised in a religious culture with an expectation that certain daily practices would become habitual and so intrinsic to my identity that I wouldn't ever miss a day. Well, I'm not such a devout mormon these days, but independent reading, writing workshop, and math are such high priorities of mine that I do them each day with religious devotion.
What are some of your teaching practices that spring from beliefs so deep and powerful that you never skip or cancel them?