Teaching Tip – Capitalize on Those Moments

I am a very organized teacher. I have an extensive long range plan that breaks down what I am doing in the classroom term by term and week by week. I write detailed day plans for each and every single day of the year as well.

This sounds like a lot of work, but I assure you, it really isn’t. In fact, it even saves me time as I always have a road map there for me.

Of course, in teaching there is always something that pops up to derail even the best laid plans. Sometimes you just want to tear your hair out because it is almost impossible to fit everything that you would like to into your week.

That being said, some of the things that might seem like unwanted diversions can be teachable moments.

I believe that as teachers, we have a responsibility to teach more than what is laid out in the curriculum. We need to teach children about health and safety concerns, life and social skills, and cooperation strategies.

Sometimes the best way to teach these things is in moments that pop up without any warning at all.

So today’s tip is to

1) Recognize the moment.
2) Take the time to go out on a tangent.
3) And capitalize on that teachable moment.

Some of my best lessons have been the impromptu ones that I never planned. They just happened spontaneously based on a simple question a student has asked or an activity that we have been doing. These lessons are priceless and the students get a lot out of them.

I know that I have covered why we need to wear helmets and seat belts just this way. I don’t think that lesson is anywhere in the curriculum. Yet, I loved the impromptu lesson I came up with on the spot, the drawing I did on the board, and the story I told about an embarrassing skateboard wipe-out. The students got a lot out of it too. We covered science topics in this short lesson as well.

After that going off on that tangent, we got back to the actual planned lesson for the day and I think we were all better off for the detour.

Have you had any great impromptu teaching moments?

I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below or write an entire post for a future installment of Teaching Tip Tuesdays. Teachers helping teachers is what it is all about.

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6 Comments on Teaching Tip – Capitalize on Those Moments

  1. Hi Chase .. I can't answer from the teaching angle .. but I was talking to my 18 year old god-daughter who's going to study physchology at University .. she was asking me about my stroked mother and the effect left-sided neglect has .. and I was saying that over the 3.5 years her brain has recovered to a point – she doesn't have left-sided neglect as such .. her eyes have recovered ..

    and we got talking about Distant Healing – that I'd put Mum in for .. see my blog .. and she was really interested ..

    then last night the BBC Horizon programme did something on synesthesia ..and the development of the brain – how as babies all the senses are connected … until as we grow they separate to become each their own .. but that there are people who are synesthetes .. David Hockney, Scriabin, Liszt, Duke Ellington .. and see and experience things somewhat differently ..

    Really interesting .. so I always tell using a story ..

    & I'd love to be as planned as you are! I was once … then I got married & a muddle ever since – despite the divorce!

    Cheers – enjoy teaching beyond the pale .. Hilary

  2. Hi Hilary,

    Story is such an amazing vehicle, isn't it? I think I should figure out a way to incorporate story more often into all areas of my teaching.

    Thanks for the interesting comment. Always appreciated 🙂

  3. That you can do that, Chase, in spite of the strait jacket of standardization requirements, is a tribute to your skills as a teacher.

  4. Hi ECD,

    Thanks for the compliment!

    Hope you have a great day!

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