While doing research for his I-Search paper, a student asked me to look at his research organizer. He had one bit of information for each of his five research questions. Knowing he needed at least two to three answers for each of his questions to formulate a valid, well-rounded response, I told him, “Good start” and began asking clarifying questions to gather more information.
“Really? I thought I was done,” he told me as we wrapped up the check-in.
From across the room, another student chimed in, “Don’t you hate when she does that? ‘Good start.’ ‘No, I’m showing her because I’m done and she always says ‘Good start.'” There is nothing more humbling than learning about an annoying quirk from a group of teenagers.
It wasn’t until he called me on it that I realized how often I use the term “Good start,” in both verbal check-ins and while communicating via Google Docs. I often joke with my students about a magical place called “Done.” They all want to be there. For them, “Done” is place that means they can relax for a minute and exhale before moving onto their next goal.
It makes me wonder, when are we “Done?” In yoga, we are never “done.” That’s why it’s called practice. In the ten plus years of practicing yoga, I’ve never been bored; there’s always something new and another challenge. Running and weightlifting have changed my yoga practice. While my legs are stronger than they’ve ever been, I’m aware that I am not as flexible as I used to be. I was close to being able to do a split; that went away when I began running three times a week. While some flexibility fled, I find I get more from my sessions now. My body craves the stretching and movement.
When it comes to running, I am aware that I will also never be “done.” I’m inspired by progress to become faster and stronger. It is such a great feeling to feel better while running or to go a little faster than you’re used to running.
With both my students and Liam, I spend a lot of time talking about growth mindset, a term coined by Carol Dweck. She talks about the power of the word “yet,” as in, “I can’t do that yet.” Because I loop with my students, we can talk about progress and how far they’ve come in the months and years we’ve known each other. When he gets frustrated with a new concept, I remind Liam of his progress in ninja skills classes and elementary school. “Remember when borrowing numbers in subtraction was tough? Now, you can do it without any problems. You’ll get this!’
My running friends and I often remind ourselves of our progress. We remember when the thought of running four minutes was terrifying. Now, we regularly run three miles without stopping.
So this makes me wonder when I will be “done” when it comes to running, weightlifting and yoga. In my weightlifting, my goal is to do a pull-up. I can deadlift 200 pounds but can’t do a pull-up. I signed up for a 10K next September. There is talk about a half marathon next summer. How far will go? I have a plan to reach these goals? What’s next?