There’s a bit of jargon we teacher types use to describe when aspects of the teaching process help the student to achieve more and more independent learning: scaffolding. As a high school teacher, I typically used it to describe actions or activities that developed skills required by future activities. Mastering baby steps, if you will.
I have to admit that even though I’ve left the classroom, I still use the term. I do this because I like it. I see it in action in parenting, in ministry, in friendship. Whether it is called “scaffolding” or not, we do it for one another when we come together and support one another to be better.
Scaffolding is great as far as I’m concerned.
Yes, I’ve been a tourist and had my views of tourist attractions obscured by scaffolding, but I’m savvy enough to appreciate that in the literal sense, scaffolding is used to make the structure within better and stronger.
And so, regardless of whether I’m thinking about teaching and learning or building maintenance, I think scaffolding is pretty swell.
In fact, I think we can all use some scaffolding more often than not. Because we take on daily wear and tear and need repair. We also need people and things present in our lives that help us get through stuff until we are strong enough to do it alone.
A friend posted a family photo the other day and I was so happy to see her in front of the camera instead of behind it. She remarked that it took the support of a friend to make her feel comfortable enough to be caught in that moment, of showing her vulnerable self so that her boys have a photograph to help them remember that moment.
I am so glad she was able to take and keep that photo and even more glad she has a friend who provides her so much love and support that she was able to share that moment with all of us. I’m so glad she was scaffolded.
Because, truthfully, sometimes it is only the scaffolding that gets us through.
I was thinking about how the support of others makes all the difference. For me, my mental health and my creative self are wholly connected. When I’m not writing, I feel horrible about myself; when I feel horrible about myself, I stop writing. I struggle to find anything in my life to be happy about, let alone be happy with who I am. It’s like I’m stuck under my own personal rain cloud without a raincoat or umbrella.
However, I am so blessed to have supportive people in my life who’ve kept me going when I didn’t know how to even move my feet, let alone begin the journey. And those folks? They help me see the sunshine in even the darkest weather.
The other day I made huge headway on my latest writing project and I was nearly overwhelmed with how happy it made me feel to be moving forward again. And yet, I know I would still be stuck if it weren’t for the folks who’ve supported me and told me I can do this; told me that I am good enough just as I am. And because of their scaffolding, I am not just good enough, I am better.
We all have our group of scaffolding. It likely looks more like squishy hugs and texts or phone calls than a stack of boards and pipes, but it does the same thing – provides us the structure and support to keep us going when we are in danger of collapsing. Thanks be to all the scaffolding in my life and yours.