Do We Actively Seek Teachable Moments?

By Stephen C. Schultz


I had an experience at Oxbow Academy a few weeks ago. It’s an experience that is transferable to just about any work environment. I hope you find this helpful as you interact with colleagues in your place of employment.

Thomas Holmes, our photographer and I were at Oxbow taking pictures of the administration team. This included the Executive Director, Residential Director, Academic Director and teachers. It also included the Clinical Director and therapists. All of these shots were for use on the website. We decided to take the pictures in the new horse arena so we can have a standard backdrop, regardless of outside weather. In the future, we will be glad to have a standard backdrop.


I was standing next to the tack room with a group of teachers. I was making small talk and noticed a few of them standing there watching Tony and Brita working with a student and a horse. There was no conversation happening with the teachers, they were 100% focused on the therapy session. Because of distance and the activity, you could tell there was interaction and conversation going on with Tony, Brita and the student, but you couldn’t hear much of what was being said. Yet, the teachers were still enthralled with the process.



I took a step closer to the teachers and asked if they knew much about equine therapy. They all shook their head no. I started sharing some of the basics about equine therapy and why we use it. They would turn their head to me, and then turn back to Tony and Brita. I asked if they had met Tony and his wife Brita. They said they had seen them around. I motioned to them to follow me and we walked to the edge of the panels. I caught Tony’s eye and he came over. We made introductions and I asked Tony to explain a little about the process of equine therapy.



Tony did what Tony does…he connected immediately with the teachers. He discussed what they were doing with this student, (who the teachers knew and cared for) and how equine therapy helps to build competence, mastery and resilience. Then, just like that we were called to get pictures taken and the experience was over.

I was thinking about this on the drive back to my office. I know one thing from that brief interaction…those teachers gained a deeper understanding of Oxbow Academy. They probably have a bit more pride in their association with the program and will probably interact with that particular student in a more informed way in the future.

So, in your particular workplace, do you have different departments that may not fully understand what you do? Are there aspects of other departments you don’t fully understand? Would it be helpful and contribute to an improved culture if you better understood the “Big Picture”? How can you make that happen?

In the world of therapy, we often hear the term “Teachable Moments”. Even the teachers themselves can have teachable moments!

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