It happens every spring. On the first warm day somewhere around the first of May, garter snakes emerge to mate. If I walk through the woods on that particular day, I can see dozens of snakes. During the rest of the year, I walk in the woods almost every day and rarely see a snake. In the middle of the winter, with a couple feet of snow on the ground, I could look for snakes as hard as I could but I would never ever see one.
Teaching is much like this. I have to be patient and know when it's time to push a student to the next level, to the next challenge. It's a matter of timing. Of waiting for the teachable moment. Of knowing when the students are ready, when the classroom dynamics are ripe. It's intuitive. It's instinctive. It can be learned from experience, I guess, if you watch the patterns. It's like catching snakes in the woods.