My purpose here is not to debate theology. The story has always stuck with me because it seemed to me that the teacher was so focused on her own agenda that she missed an chance to really grapple an important point with a young mind.
About.com defines a teachable moment as, “an unplanned opportunity that arises…where a teacher has an ideal chance to offer insight to his or her students. [It] is not something that you can plan for; rather, it is a fleeting opportunity that must be sensed and seized by the teacher.”
Being a good teacher (or coach, or co-worker, or friend) requires a lot of mindfulness. Sometimes we’re stuck in our own picture of how things are supposed to go. Sometimes we miss that subtle cue that someone is asking a really important question that we weren’t expecting.
And often, the moment which is missed is one that we were really looking for – that chance to go deeper, to have a more meaningful conversation about how the world works and what that means for our own personal experiences. To make a connection.
So, how can we be more ready to catch those delicate fleeting moments? We can work on mental, emotional, and physical flexibility through practices like yoga, meditation, eating right, and getting enough sleep. We can improve our active listening skills, which includes really listening instead of composing your response while someone is still speaking. The Holistic Performance Group (HPG) can help build those skills.
We can look for non-verbal cues like body languages and facial expression to determine the level of engagement. If someone is very interested or excited about something maybe we should discuss that for a while.
You may not think of yourself as a teacher. But in any interaction there are occasions for curiosity and exploration. If we are open to them we can not only improve our communication and relationships, but we all might learn something.