Friday, January 29, 2010

The Teachable Moment

My Sunday School class. Three highly spirited girls who love to talk and "only wanna have fun" and one thoughtful, gentle soul who quietly enjoys the banter going on around her. Four in all. Four precious young girls in Grades 4 and 5. And they are mine for three quarters of one precious hour every other week.

I gave up on the curriculum weeks ago. Expressions of "I'm bored!" and "Can't we play a game?", both expressed in whiny tones, forced me to close my Teacher's Guide and set aside my lesson plans. "They seem to like to talk..." their other teacher told me, the one who has them on the opposite weeks of when I am in charge of their class.

And that's how we found ourselves in Tim Horton's last week, my wee class and I. I decided to "go with the flow" and capitalize on their gift of expression. I had parents' permission forms signed, read over the lesson plan so I knew what I should be shooting for, and we headed for the door with a prayer that I would be able to discern "the teachable moment" when it arrived in the midst of us.

Settling at the table with drinks and donuts, I asked the girls how their week had gone before turning their attention to current events and asking them what was in the news. They all knew about the earthquake in Haiti, but I could tell it seemed far away to them, as indeed it was.

"Could that happen here?"

That question stopped them short. They didn't think so...

"But what if something else happened? We talked about some possibilities. What if there was a tornado? A car accident? What would you do ?

"I would pray," answered one of them.

"Good answer," I said. "But what if something happened so fast you didn't have time to pray?" They stopped listening to themselves talk and all eyes were on me. It was the teachable moment.

We talked about crying out to God in the middle of whatever was happening - anytime, anywhere, and he would hear us. We talked about being ready long before any sudden calamity hit - of nurturing our relationship with God so that when we really needed him, when there was no time even to pray, we would already know him well enough enough to just lean back into his arms - even in the midst of the storm. We talked about "being ready", but even if we weren't ready, that we could still be confidant of his mercy and grace and though we might falter in our faithfulness, he never, ever would. He would hear our cry...

Half an hour later we were spilling back through the church doors and my girls were rejoining their parents. There was not a single hint of "I'm bored" this week. And I'm looking forward to our next class together - and that next teachable moment.


Marilyn Yocum said...


Deidra said...

Ahh...I needed to hear this. I'll be teaching our high school group this Sunday. It's not something I feel gifted to do, but you've encouraged me to watch for what God opens up.

Suz said...

What a wonderful teacher you are. The girls don't know now how lucky they are but years from now they will remember and be grateful.

I like throwing the lesson plans away sometimes. We tend to put God and our lessons in too tight a box.

Thanks for the post.

Midlife mom said...

There's so much wisdom in your approach with those girls, you've left me feeling quite in awe!
Thank you for sharing!

Dave Hingsburger said...

Brilliant, absolutely brilliant ... you not only taught those girls, add a 50 something man to the class list.

Belinda said...

Wow, Susan, I have had SUCH a day that I am, at 10 past 9 p.m. only just checking in to read your post. What a treat!

I must confess that your "emergency spiritual preparedness" lesson had me smiling. What a powerful point to bring home to the girls--oh, and the 50 something man who just joined your class. :)

Joanna Mallory said...

Susan, you're a true teacher. And thanks for sharing the lesson. We can all apply what you shared with the girls, and we can all be alert for teachable moments whether they're for a structured class or with a friend (where we may well be the ones being taught).

I am so not a Sunday-school teacher, but God can teach a word or thought through any of us. May we learn to be alert to see if it's a moment for us to learn or to teach!