I just listened to (and read) the conversation regarding teachable moments http://edtechtalk.com/node/4899.
The irony of the first half of the talk was that it was an actual "moment" about which they were attempting to discuss--they couldn't get the audio to work and then it was in and out--was fun to listen to :)
This has always been a topic that grabs me. I'm always afraid I'm going to miss out on such moments with my own children. I taught 6th grade in the nineties, and had a student share that her dad was in the service and had to leave for an assignment. The questions started flying--"why does he have to leave?" "why do people fight?" "if they don't want to fight and we don't want to fight--what's the point? Can't they just talk it out?" And I felt overwhelmed--I could have grabbed that "moment" and really gone with it--but I was so scared I would say the wrong thing. One of the women in the recording mentioned that some of her best "teachable moments" were when she didn't have a clue about the answer, and they would research it. Of course hindsight is 20/20, but what a great moment I missed! I remember being in HS when the challenger launched--then exploded. We were watching it live. We were all scared and upset and some of the teachers (I found out later) really went with it. They talked about the scientific side of it, the possibilities about what might have happened--some allowed their kids to come up with ideas about how to help support the families. One teacher just had a talk session about how it made them feel. My algebra teacher asked us to pass in our homework and prepare for our quiz. I remember my hand was shaking so badly that I could barely hold the pencil. I can't remember much else about that day, but that I knew the kids of the people on that ship weren't doing math. That anniversary is upcoming, and it still hits me hard. Other such topics were discussed such as 9/11 and Haiti...I haven't taught in so many years, but I can imagine it takes a sensitive and wise person to be able to grab such an issue and run with it.
I had a bit of a teachable moment with my son this week. He's got Asperger's, and really can only focus on one thing at a time. One of his favorite pastimes is creating characters on his Wii, the computer, or even pencil to paper. I told him about the avatar assignment and how I was scared to try it because I'm no good at that kind of thing. He said "Mama--of course you can do it. You won't do it as good as me, but that's okay. It takes practice". I was blown away at this--number one, those words have come out of my mouth so many times, and he was listening! But he grasped that I have insecurities too, and sometimes it's GOOD to relay those to kids!
I feel there are many levels of such moments--from the weather patterns and why it's snowing so much this year, and a pet fish dying when overfed to the enormity of the catastrophes mentioned above. I love that it's okay for me not to "know it all"! My three year old asked me a question last week about who God's mom was, and I answered with "I don't know..." and she gave me a sly smile saying, "You're a GROWN UP!" implying that I should know everything. I'm glad that isn't the case. I'm hoping to be able to grab more and more of these teachable moments that come my way--and get over the fear of approaching topics I'm insecure about--and being more open to learning instead of always "teaching" :)