Invisible Growth

One of the best results of embarking on a new personal learning journey is the educational insights it brings along.

As educators we would do well to remember that there is often a time when a skill is being developed that no progress is apparent. You are learning and growing, but you cannot show–or even sense–any growth.

In the past week or so, I’ve felt tremendous progress in my language growth using Duolingo. But the previous month of daily practice I felt stalled – absolutely no sense of improvement.

It’s our job as learners to know that that neutral feeling is part of the neural process; we can’t give up.

It’s our job as educators to make sure that neutral feeling isn’t taken as a signal to quit.

If I had quit when I felt no progress, I would have made my feeling into reality. Only by pushing through the challenging weeks have I felt growth in language.

Are you encouraging your students, especially when they feel like they aren’t improving? Are you reminding them to double down on practice, trusting that growth is happening, though invisibly?

It’s hard to maintain this mindset when we have grades/deadlines/standardized testing looming. But our brains won’t bow to our calendars, no matter how much we insist they do.

Invisible growth is real, and must be factored into our teaching.