I believe we teachers think or maybe don't think about certain practices like I view Comet. Sometimes we inherit the practices of those who taught us, those we work with, or the teaching culture as a whole, without asking the right question. Why?
For example, I almost didn't teach an apple unit this year simply because I stopped to ask myself, "Why?" Why am I teaching an apple unit? If it's because first grade teachers across the planet do so, that's not good enough. Neither is it enough that I've been teaching the unit for years. I better know why I'm doing everything I do.
One of the common classroom practices that makes me scratch my chin is morning work. Dare I ask, "Why?" What is the purpose of morning work? From what I can tell, it's typically some kind of worksheet or glorified version of one. I get the sense it might keep the kids busy for a bit and free up the teacher. Again, "Why?" What is the teacher doing that requires the kids to be busy? Attendance? It takes me less than a minute to take attendance on the computer. Plus, it gives the kids a chance to communicate with each other. "Take out a small moment from your pocket and share with your neighbor what you did last night." Is it about lunch count? It takes us less than a minute to do this whole group right now. It's a mini math lesson in the making.
As much as possible, I'd like my classroom to mirror the real world. I'll be the first to admit I'm not there yet, but it forces me to think about real-world adult applications. How would I feel about coming to school every morning and finding some kind of busy work left on my desk by the principal? I think I might dread that part of the day. Maybe our kids do too. Even if they don't, is it the best use of their time? Let's ask the right question, even if others haven't. Why?