Saturday, February 14, 2009

Aren't They All Teachable Moments?

I wanted to share with you something Lisa Murphy, one of my favorite early childhood speakers, put on her blog in November. Go read it and then come back. I'll wait for you. What did you think?

What I think is that it's a nice reminder that every moment in a kid's life is a teachable moment, it's just that we don't always need to be the ones doing the teaching. What is means is that when a kid finishes something at the easel we DON'T always have to comment on the colors or the choice of brush size. We can simply smile and enjoy it. It DOES mean we can keep our mouths shut when a child is absorbed in what he or she is doing, clear in the knowledge that they are doing their own teaching in their own moment. All we can do is ruin it and take out the wonder of it when we try to turn it into an official teachable moment.

As teachers of young children it is our job to create an environment that lends itself to teachable moments. We set up the classroom to learn about colors, smells, textures, and many other things simply so that we get the opportunity to use language about whatever topic we're thinking about. Even if we follow the childrens' lead and change what we're doing on the fly to follow their interests, we still feel compelled to prattle on and on while they (the children) are working.

Make a promise to yourself that for each child, at least once each day, you will simply observe. You may get the chance to bring up the experience with that child later and you may not. Enjoy their curiosity and their self absorbed activity. Yes, you will get to talk about color mixing and the alphabet. But not for every minute of every day. There's a time for everything. Let's remember that.


  1. Hi Patty!
    I just stumbled across your blog and have read a few of your posts. First let me tell you that I have let out a sigh of relief and am smiling ear to ear. It is SO NICE to hear so many of my own ideas and opinions organized in such a great way. I am early in my career and often become very frustrated at many of the outdated practices and opinions that I come across. I am in no way getting burnt out, but have been thinking the best place for me would be within a home daycare that I would eventually create (as I have no "HOME" or the funds to do so)
    Have you had to deal with coworkers that have drastically different views and tactics than you do? What do you do when this happens?
    I was just promoted to lead teacher in the 2 year old room and can already tell that my 2 teammates have diff. opinions than I do. . .I don't want to make all the decisions, but I do feel that I should do what I think is best for the children.

    Hope to hear back from you. And thank you for the amazing blog!

  2. Luckily, one of the great things about my nursery school is that the director tries to hire people who already get what we're trying to create. That doesn't mean I don't have disagreements. Because part of what we do is help the kids learn social interaction, we use those same skills when dealing with each other.

    At our school we don't have lead teachers. We co-teach on an equal basis. So my co-teacher and I might not always agree. But if there are disagreements we try to find ways around it. Maybe we'll try her idea first and then mine. Maybe her idea will be the backup idea for when mine fails miserably. I would consider talking to your director about what's bugging you and he/she might have some thoughts. By the way, we recommend the 10 Steps to Positive Discipline, by Becky Bailey, for our parents. We use it with the kids, we use it with each other. I use it with my husband!

    If you're the lead teacher, does that give you any authority?

    I'd think carefully about the home daycare. Everyone I know who's tried it has quit after just a few years. It's quite stressful, particularly if you don't have a business partner and you have your own family. I wouldn't want to discourage you, but do think about it carefully so you don't put yourself through unnecessary stress.

    I'm glad you like the blog. There will be some changes on it in the near future!