teachable moment, ahoy!

Today I had one of those “teachable moments” that teachers talk about, when the stars align, the opportunity presents itself, and you deviate from your lesson and really capitalize on what’s going on around you.

On Friday there was an incident at my school; a threat was made to one of the students, and there was an implied threat to the community at large. The school was put on lockdown (which means that students weren’t allowed to leave for lunch). Without going into details of the specifics, it caused a bit of panic among members of the community who didn’t know what was going on or why (students, teachers, and parents).

Today, the teachers had a meeting before school, the students and the teachers had a community meeting at the start of school, and then in homeroom advisers were instructed to talk about the incident with their advisees.

My homeroom didn’t really want to talk, much, which is fine. However, when my first period calculus class met, they were in a tizzy to talk about it. They said they didn’t get to finish what they were talking about in homeroom, or their homeroom teacher didn’t really let them talk about it, and they wanted to have that conversation.

I put down my book, and we had today’s “teachable moment.” I let them talk, I would sometimes interject my opinion or get them to think about what they were saying critically, I didn’t defend or attack anyone’s thoughts, I just let the dialogue unfold. Students talked to each other, got things off their chests, and really thought about the situation. Finally, when they were done, I suggested that they write down all their thoughts and feelings about this incident and how it was handled by the administration now before they forget. Those views will be useful when the faculty meet to talk about the administration’s handling of the threat.

Yeah, we didn’t get through some basic integration stuff. But guess what? This. Was. More. Important.

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