Teaching Reflections · Topics for Parents and Students

The Importance of Teachable Moments

I’m swamped at work. So busy, in fact that I haven’t blogged in nearly a month, but somehow by the grace of God I’ve found 25 minutes to sit and write.

My class agendas currently also feel this type of pressure.  I’m teaching multiple grade 10 English courses, so we are ramping up towards the almighty OSSLT April 10th, doing daily vocabulary, independent reading and writer’s notebook activities all the while trying to work on class units.

Who has time to add anything else to that mix?

After watching Emma Gonzales speech this weekend at the March for Lives, titled ‘Six Minutes and Twenty Seconds’, I had to. Take a look, you’ll get it. There’s also that little part about nearly a million people walking on the American government in protest, many of them students and teachers.

Sometimes, we need to stop for teachable moments regardless of how busy we are because teachable moments are what kids need.

Yes, the March for Lives happened in the U.S., and no (thank God) school shootings aren’t a pressing issue in Northern Ontario at the moment. But none of that matters. What matters is that kids need to see the struggles of other kids their age. They need to see that teenagers can make a very big difference in this world, and that adults will listen to them.

Yesterday, I set aside a period to watch the speech, and had the kids talk about it as well as the issue of gun violence south of the border. (See my prompt questions below.)


The result? Three great classes full of questions, discussion and thinking. We shared feelings (sad, scared, angry), information and anecdotes about our knowledge and experience with gun laws in the US, as well as laughed at the ridiculous ‘solution’ to arm American teachers.

Who could ask for anything more?

Although obviously this work won’t be graded and really isn’t part of a unit (although we do discuss and practice persuasive writing and speaking in my courses), the learning happening in my room yesterday was priceless.

Opportunities for teachable moments can appear at the worst possible times, but what I’ve learned from my classes yesterday is that regardless of the timing, we need to make room for them. It’s organic learning at it’s best!

Did you deal with the media coverage regarding the March for Lives in your classroom? Share your teaching strategies below.

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