Being prepared, open, and flexible to students’ questions and needs as they arise is crucial in the classroom. This is so simple yet so important. I also agree with you that teachable moments are very important and that it is totally fine to veer from lesson plans to take advantage of them. I too think that we must provide several opportunities for genuine language use. My first semester student teaching I noticed that I did most of the whole group talking, and my second semester I was guided to create more opportunities for my students to talk amongst each other, with me as a facilitator of the conversation. Maybe you can help me expand on this and learn even more strategies for student talk? Raising student engagement allows for more opportunities for students to find their own answers (create their own knowledge), which I believe leads to meaningful retention of information/concepts.
Using language authentically is beneficial and meaningful to all of us humans, not just in the classroom, (but especially in the classroom) if we actually want to get through to somebody (our students). Ownership of our students’ education is what will make their time is the classroom worthwhile and provide them with a valuable, lasting education. I too think that a classroom should represent its students. This will contribute to it becoming their community and give them pride in their education.