Thursday, October 11, 2018

Space to Grow: Strength and Stretch

"Lean into the stretch and grow, breakthrough limits and old ways that no longer serve and eventually soar and reach deeper levels of strength and faith and expression." 
                   - Christine Arylo, Are You Feeling Stretched?

Strength and stretch.

What are the strengths?  What is the stretch?

Lately, I've found myself asking these two questions often about the learners in our communities.

I suppose my fondness for the word stretch came when I chose STRETCH as my One Little Word in 2017.  At the time, it felt like a way for me to safely reach into those uncomfortable next steps of all I still wanted to do and learn.  It was my way of being okay with where I was at the time, fully intending to grow past it.  The word brought me comfort at a time when I was pushing to embrace discomfort.  I liked the word "stretch."  It didn't feel like I was wrong, unknowing, or lacking in skill, but instead on a journey.

I've been thinking a lot about what stretch means for the learners in our communities.  Often, in our quest to support growth, we find ourselves focused on what still needs to be learned or changed.  If we aren't careful, we can slip into a cycle of naming deficits and problems instead of helping learners to find their next steps.  If we aren't cautious, we can find ourselves blaming the learner and discouraged by situations to which we have little control.  In the push toward achievement, we can find ourselves pressing for quick wins and overwhelmed by all we feel we need to accomplish instead of staying focused on intentional steps.  In this quest, learners can lose their desire to discover, to inquire, to grow, to learn, to stretch.

We're all on a journey.  Though I haven't figured out the secrets to life, I have learned to be okay with this constant state of learning, growing, and reaching for the next thing.  I've learned to be okay with my imperfections, but also willing to seek the stretch.

What if we offered the learners we sit alongside the gift of stretch?  What if we gave our learners the same space?  What if we accepted where they are, celebrated their strengths, and worked to seek the stretch?

So when I'm sitting beside learners and find myself overwhelmed by all I perceive needs to be done, I now begin asking these two questions:

What are the strengths?  What is the stretch?

Strength and stretch.

Space to grow.


1 comment:

  1. Beautifully said Cathy as well as a good reminder for me as a teacher and personally. Thank you.