A Perfect Day?

What would make a perfect day for a teacher eager to set the curriculum in motion with instruction?  Given the normal hours of the schoolday, how much Curriculum and Instruction (C & I) time is possible?  The Denison Montessori Elementary School where I teach runs from 9:00AM – 3:45 PM.  Subtracting arrival and departure time, lunch and recess, there are 2.5 hours in the morning and 2.5 hours in the afternoon for C & I.  Five hours.

I woke up this morning feeling confident of five perfectly uninterrupted hours with my students.  After greetings and announcements, I distributed a “Partner Work Plan” to help the older students who are acting as mentors for the fourth graders plan a rich and interesting day with their partners.  As they read the instructions and began to plan their work, the librarian arrived.  She reminded me that she would be teaching my class about the Science Fair today, taking the younger students the first half of the morning and the older students the second half.  Her plan would effectively split the partners in half so that they would not be able to work together.  And so the perfect day that I had in mind unraveled.

Of course the Science Fair is a good thing for many students and the lesson about how to carry out a science project will be useful to them.  The lesson would definitely fall under the heading of C & I.  The problem, however, is that my instructional plan for the day, one I believed was important for moving the students towards social integration and cooperative work, was thwarted and ineffective.

In fairness, I will not count the entire morning as a loss in my log of C & I time.  I’ll say it was cut in half. That puts the Day’s Total for C & I at  3.75 hours.

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