I recently viewed a tree removal in Pendleton that prompted me to wonder how long such a large tree had been present. It was a solemn process and I was struggling for a way to understand the good in it (any fellow tree lovers with me?). I was reminded that a crosscut section gives the ability to see and therefore read the life of the tree across the years. Exposure to the inside structure reveals an intricate and unique pattern with clues to the life and times it knew. This practice of reading trees across the rings is dendrochronology, and it can be pretty simple given the right explanation:
-“Dendrochronology studies indicate that droughts of varying magnitude were common in eastern Oregon during the last 500 years (Graumlich 1987, Keen 1937).: p.8, para 4.
Umatilla National Forest-USDA Forest Service
Being able to see variation and uniqueness in the growth patterns laid bare by the crosscut of this tree made me reflect on how we measure growth in other contexts: how variables act on (and in) our own human experience. How would this past year of struggle be read by future audiences? And how would our tales of struggle or growth manifest and be understood by future generations?
-See about the ability of trees to speak their truth in a page on the Pitara site: “Tree rings tell many tales” Pitara
That’s when it hit me that mentoring operates in a similar space of growth affected by environment….patterns formed in direct response to inputs specific to a particular combination of factors: obviously not the same set for trees and mentees, yet operating in similar ways. For trees we look to contributions like soil and weather. We can readily accept these factors would change the amount of growth marked in the tree “ring” that represents the growth for that year.
Apply this model to mentoring and consider the role of mentor as a contributor to growth where, say, encouragement or empathy impacted the growth of their mentee for that year. Parents and other family of course play a vital role in the growth of the mentee, but there is reason to believe that additional support from other well placed adults can help a student thrive.
-“Successful students had one or more teachers who were mentors and took a real interest in their aspirations, and they had an internship related to what they were learning in school.” -
Podcast; “It Takes A Mentor” (from the Chronicles of Evidence-Based Mentoring: An article by Thomas L. Friedman posted in the New York Times.)
Together we can make 2021 the right environment for our mentees to experience a remarkable year of growth!! For more on how to encourage the vigorous growth cycles that Impact Mentoring is striving for with our mentees, please contact us.
-Contributed by Suzanne Church, AmeriCorps Mentor Coordinator