It has been a privilege to have a career in education. From connecting with children to leading with adults, the profession of teaching is replete with moments of learning. These are commonly referred to as teachable moments. I like to call them teaching moment because it reflects the reciprocal nature of the situation - it is our duty to reflect the best learning episodes back to willing ears and hearts. I would like to share a few teaching moments that have dotted my career so far:
1. "After you save this file, you should leave," was a note that I gave a high school senior. She was a student who had anxiety about being around other students and one peer in particular with whom she had a bullying history with. After speaking with some other concerned teachers about her being in the same class with the student, we determined that the placement would be suitable because of the relationship I had built with her. I spoke with the student and we developed a strategy for dealing with the student in question. One of our tactics was to allow her to leave a minute or two earlier than other students, so that she could safely go to her next class. Free from potential harassment. Free to be in a safe and orderly environment. I learned that it is our ethical duty* to protect the emotional as well as physical health of our students.
2. "Why are you so hyped, all the time?" This quote from another high schooler was said to me, with a smile, after I spent all 90 minutes of an energetic class session on my feet. As I was engaged in going from student to student in this composition day, the energy from their stories kept me whirling around the room. The teaching moment for me was that the fuel for my focus was and will forever be the stories of my students.
3. "In some states, prisons are built based off of the reading levels of students," was the beginning sentence of a message I gave to middle school students. I then proceeded to let them know about the power and potential of reading and writing in ways that were personal and transformative for me. For the rest of that year and the majority of my classroom days, I found teaching moments in literature and poems. I allowed rich texts to communicate deep truths and mixed in real world lessons for students to enjoy. This one practice of creating an environment of literate exchange for children taught me that students are always ready to respond to and be changed by passion and truth.
In each teaching moment, the learner is a flexible role and the lesson is dependent on human variables. As a teacher, you are never too bright to learn or too good to make a mistake. It is what we do with the learning; how we let it impact our practice and our leadership that makes the profession richer and more rewarding. As you start school this week, be prepared for the teaching opportunities that await you and your students.