It struck me today that teaching is instinctive. A teacher has to be constantly flexible and ready to adjust on the fly. One never knows when that teachable moment might arrive. I started thinking about this as I was reflecting on a lesson that went really well earlier this week and why it went so well. And I realized that beyond the pedagogy, beyond the lesson plan, beyond the responses of the students, it was the instinctiveness I have when I’m teaching that helped it to be successful.
I have a general plan when I teach, but there are times when I’m talking about reading or modeling writing that I realize I’m adding in many more things than I might even have identified or thought about ahead of time. It’s instinct that helps me see that as I’m talking about teaching through our writing I can also talk about point-of-view, grammar, voice, organization, audience, word choice, and so much more. Teaching language arts as a subject is always interesting because there are so very many interconnected elements. And no matter what I plan to do, there is always something that I see during the teaching that I know I can add to make things clearer to students that I didn’t plan on ahead of time. I was trying to figure out how I could explain this to a new teacher or someone not in this profession, but I wasn’t sure. That’s the point when I realized it’s about instinct.
My instinct drives what I do in the classroom. It’s how I make decisions on the spot, make adjustments to lessons on the fly, make use of teachable moments when they come up…because I know, in that moment, that those are the things I need to teach, address, explore, connect, discuss, make clearer. Instinct guides what I do in the classroom, and I think it has to because when I have a depth of knowledge behind me, it can support me in moving forward or changing directions in the moment. So it comes back to learning and using that knowledge to guide my instincts for what to do next. I’m not sure if teacher instinct is teachable, but I know that without being a learner myself and constantly striving to understand best practices and better ways to teach and using that knowledge to support me, I wouldn’t necessarily be able to trust my instincts. And I need to be able to trust my instincts in the classroom, so I need to keep learning and challenging myself, and taking advantage of those moments when the metaphorical lightbulb goes on above my head to let my instincts guide my way.