Teachable Moment

What is a Teachable Moment?

teacher and student
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A teachable moment is an unplanned opportunity that arises in the classroom where a teacher has an ideal chance to offer insight to his or her students. A teachable moment is not something that you can plan for; rather, it is a fleeting opportunity that must be sensed and seized by the teacher. Often it will require a brief digression that temporarily sidetracks the original lesson plan so that the teacher can explain a concept that has inadvertently captured the students' collective interest.

Taking this tangent is worthwhile because it is organically timed to maximize impact on the students. Ultimately, the teachable moment could evolve into a full-blown lesson plan or unit of instruction. Here are a few examples of teachable moments and how you can make the most of them.

Example of Teachable Moments

During our morning meeting, one student asked why we had Veterans Day off from school yesterday. So, as the teacher, I turned this into a teachable moment to discuss the sacrifices that servicemen and servicewomen have made on behalf of our country, continuing to the present day. The students were paying rapt attention and so we ended up spending 20 minutes discussing our friends and neighbors who are in the military and what it means to our country's future.

Another example of a teachable moment was when during another morning meeting, one of the students asked why they had to do homework everyday.

Children are curious by nature, and I'm sure a lot of the other students were wondering the same thing but never had the nerve to ask. So, I turned this question into a teachable moment. First, I turned the question to the students and asked them why they thought they had to do homework. Some students were said just because the teacher says so, while others said because it was a way to help them learn even more.

We then spent about 20 minutes discussing and brainstorming why homework was important to their learning and how it helped them practiced concepts learned in the classroom.

How to Create a Teachable Moment

Teachable moments happen all the time, you just have to really pay attention to them. Just like in the example above during the morning meeting when a student randomly asked why they had to do homework. I payed attention and took the time to explain why it was important in hopes that it would make a difference the next time they had to do their homework.

You can create teachable moments too by asking students to talk about the book they are reading or about the lesson they are learning. You can have students listen to music and talk about the lyrics or look at photographs and talk about what they notice in the picture.

If you ever come to the point when a student asks you a question and you do not know the answer, all you have to do is say "Let's look up at the answer together."

Edited By: Janelle Cox