How do you balance what you feel they need to know and do with what they feel they want to know and do? There are not enough hours in the day!
KISS - keep it simple, sweetheart!
By the time my students graduate, I want them to:
Be able to write a well-structured essay
Have about as much math as I had (I quit before calculus) or more
Know at least the basics about each of the major branches of science: if it stinks, it's biology, if it explodes, it's chemistry, if it doesn't work, it's physics ;-)
Be able to think critically about history and literature (notice I didn't say "know tons of facts about")
Know enough of a foreign language to the point where the student may learn more through conversation with native speakers, literature in that language, and travel.
And above all...
Know how to "fish."
This last objective is crucial. It's based on the old saw that goes something like, "If you give a man a fish, you can feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he will feed himself for the rest of his life." I want my students to know where (besides Wikipedia!!!) to look and who to ask if they don't know something. I want my students to be able to gather their own facts, make their own observations, and analyze them. I think that's the biggest favor any teacher can do for her students.
One of the hardest parts of teaching writing is knowing how to evaluate a paper. It seems like such risky business—a subjective effort characterized by inconsistency and wild guesses. Last