Enter The Stretch Zone When Learning

Before diving into talking about the “Stretch Zone”, let us first introduce the Learning Zone Model.

Learning Zone Model

The Learning Zone Model was developed by Tom Senninger, an Educator and Adventurer, based on psychologist Lev Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development concept. 

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The model demonstrates how we must be challenged in order to learn successfully and encourages us to see positive experiences as learning experiences. It helps us understand our limits and expand our capabilities past our “Comfort Zones”.

If we don’t push ourselves hard enough, we will unlikely be able to move beyond our Comfort Zone, but yet pushing too hard will make us feel panicked and overwhelmed. In both cases, learning becomes scary, unproductive, and limited. Hence, we need to aim for that sweet spot that is the Stretch Zone

Here are each of the different zones in detail:

Comfort Zone

This zone is what familiarity is all about. It is where things are easy, with no surprises, and you feel competent and confident in what you are doing. People often stay in their comfort zone as they “feel” the best when doing things they are comfortable with.

Staying in the Comfort Zone for too long, on the other hand, can prevent you from learning new skills and even limit your career opportunities. You may get uninspired, bored, and unmotivated as a result of the lack of learning and development. After all, there is an expression “no pain, no gain” that encourages you to take risks in order to develop any further in your current position.

However, please take note that your Comfort Zone isn’t necessarily a bad place. It’s where you can perform well, feel safe in what you are doing, and even rest, recharge and reflect.

Stretch Zone

This Stretch Zone lies just outside of your Comfort Zone. It is where you can slowly expand your comfort zone by learning new (and slightly difficult) things, expanding your understanding, and looking for new creative ways of working.  

Because this zone is outside of your Comfort Zone, you are bound to face some uneasiness and uncertainty when learning or re-learning, but you should feel motivated here to make a change and challenge yourself. 

In theory, as you spend more time in the Stretch Zone, your skillset will grow. Some of these new skills, when mastered, will eventually find their way into your Comfort Zone. What was once a stretch activity becomes a comfort activity as you venture out of your comfort zone, STRETCH, reflect, and apply.

Panic Zone

The Panic Zone is often seen as bad, and it is true, it is rather bad to step into the Panic Zone. When challenging yourself and if you go too far in pushing yourself, you over-venture and enter the Panic Zone.

Everyone has boundaries. Each step past our Stretch Zone brings us further into the Panic Zone and this is where learning stops and you feel the most anxiety. This is usually because you are swamped with too many unreasonable tasks and demands that you can’t cope with and this builds up your stress level as you feel that you’re more likely to daily. 

This zone can be damaging and demotivating. So try your best to avoid this Panic Zone as much as you can. You want to be able to learn safely and comfortably.

Always Aim for the Stretch Zone

After describing all three zones of the Learning Zone Model, it is clear that you can only grow in your stretch zone and you should always try to be there when learning. To do so, start to set some challenges for yourself that are not too hard yet not too simple, no matter what you do. 

Everyone is different, but everyone, at the same time, is still able to grow as long as they make use of the Stretch Zone correctly. Applying/relaying this concept to your business and employees will ultimately lead to a motivated and engaged team of people who can recognize and choose their own responses to allow greater learning, innovation, and growth.

When it comes to English language learning, ELSA Speaks helps you consistently stay in your stretch zones using our proprietary speech technology that detects pronunciation errors at various levels and adjusts the learning path according to personal capabilities and existing knowledge. pronunciation error detection at various levels thanks to our proprietary speech technology. Let us help bring your business as a whole to the Stretch Zone (in English language training).  Try it for free and learn more about the ELSA solution for organizations today!

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