It’s Easy…

Which path will you take? Image from http://bit.ly/pASkSU

As educators, we are often faced with an opportunity to take the easy road or the hard road.  The easy road often works for us as parents, teachers, and administrators but it rarely works for kids.  The difficult road may be an immediate challenge and take much more time and effort but this is most often the road that leads to real learning.

It’s easy… to suspend or send a child home for misbehaving.  It’s more difficult to spend time WITH the child, actually listen to him/her, model and teach him/her the social skills needed to be successful in life.

It’s easy… to give a number or letter (grade) to a child as a way to mark or judge the work.  It’s more difficult to provide ongoing coaching, descriptive feedback and formative assessment that will improve the child’s learning.

It’s easy… to give a zero.  It’s more difficult to tell a child “I will not let you get a zero, I will continue to work with you to determine the reason you want to resort to taking a zero and then provide strategies to ensure you can demonstrate your learning”.

It’s easy… to teach to the test.  It’s more difficult to teach to each child.

It’s easy… to teach the curriculum.  It’s difficult to work to ensure that each child learns the curriculum.

It’s easy… to motivate student achievement with a prize/reward.  It’s more difficult to model being a learner, develop a safe, trusting environment and lessons that are truly engaging so the focus is on learning.

It’s easy… to give out tickets and bribes for good behaviour.  It’s more difficult to teach and model empathy, ethics, and care so that children are intrinsically motivated and will choose their actions because it is the good and right thing to do.

It’s easy… to kick a child out of class or place in a time out.  It’s more difficult to work with the child so that he/she feels cared for and actually learns the needed skills.

It’s easy… to lead from the top-down.  It’s more difficult to actually listen and make decisions based on the voices of others (although this often makes things easier).

It’s easy… to turn your head the other way or pretend you did not hear something that goes against what you stand for.  It’s more difficult to have those challenging, learning conversations with people regarding these statements and/or actions.

It’s easy… to not include the voice of parents in the school/classroom.  It’s more difficult to engage parents and build trust so that we develop a partnership to do what’s best for our children.

It’s easy… to make decisions based on white, middle class culture.  It’s more difficult to actually listen to the voices and build trust in those that have been disengaged and marginalized for many years.

It’s easy… to keep your thoughts and opinions in your head.  It’s more difficult to share these with others through presentations, Twitter, blogs, wikis, and other forms of social media.

It’s easy… to close our door and teach our kids.  It’s more difficult to open the door, allow others to observe our class/school, reflect and collaborate with others, and receive input on how to improve our practice.

It’s easy… do do things TO others by controlling.  It’s more difficult to do things WITH others by facilitating.

It’s easy… to give awards to top students.  It’s more difficult to seek out and recognize the gifts and passions of each student.

It’s easy… to place A and B students on an honour roll… it’s more difficult to honour each child for who they are.

It’s easy… to say NO.  It’s more difficult to say HOW CAN WE make this happen?

It’s easy… to standardize.  It’s more difficult to personalize.

It’s easy… to design an education system that teaches a child to ‘do school’.  It’s more difficult to build a system that encourages students to develop the skills, character, and mindset so that they can truly flourish in life in and beyond school.

With any decision- we must ask ourselves: am I taking the easy road that works for me right now or am I taking the more difficult road that benefits others in the future?

I would love for you to add any other “It’s easy…” comments below.

Cross posted at The Wejr Board.  Please go there to see more great, challenging comments from readers.

11 Comments

  1. Chris,
    It’s easy to… jump on the latest education bandwagon so we don’t have to model the critical thinking mindset we intend our students to possess, and formulate an informed, integrated position on any given issue

    It’s easy to… see the multicultural myriad of people in a school and convince ourselves we are diverse when we hold token “multicultural” one-off events ; more difficult to acknowledge the cultural diversity within our school by including elements of culture ubiquitously in everything we do… to be “intercultural”

    It’s easy to… walk by trash in the hallways assuming the janitor or someone else will pick it up; harder to perceive every element of the school as “second home” to everyone who spends time there… to be mindful of every element and be as responsible for each as we expect others to be, including the physical environment

    It’s easy to… wonder what’s going on in a kid’s head when we see a puzzled, distraught or distant expression; it’s so much harder to actually take the time to ask and do whatever we can to help mitigate the problem behind the expression

    It’s easy to… micro-manage a school by establishing ultimate control over every staff member and student; much harder to identify strengths of folks and let them take control themselves

    It’s easy to… glare at weakness and glance at strengths; much harder to glare at strengths and glance at weakness

    It’s easy to… know kids names; much harder to know their stories

    Chris, great stuff.

    Hope all is well in your neck of the woods.
    Cheers.
    Sean

    July 7, 2011
    Reply
  2. It’s easy… to control. It’s more difficult to empower.

    It’s easy… to blame. It’s more difficult to overcome.

    It’s easy… to follow. It’s more difficult to collaborate.

    July 7, 2011
    Reply
  3. Love it. Will certainly be sharing this…

    It is easy… to give up. It is much more difficult to persevere in the face of adversity.

    July 7, 2011
    Reply
  4. Lyn Hilt said:

    It’s easy to hide in your office all day. It’s harder to step foot into a classroom when the meaningless tasks are piling up on your desk.

    It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself. It’s harder to get to the root of the problem and devise a solution.

    It’s easy to ignore a colleague who isn’t working to grow. It’s harder to approach the person and help them develop professionally.

    It’s easy to work alone. It’s harder to collaborate.

    It’s easy to read a post and not take the time to comment. It’s more difficult to compose your thoughts in response to someone else’s and start a conversation.

    Nice post, Mr. Wejr!

    July 7, 2011
    Reply
  5. It’s easy to…. plan lesson by lesson. It’s more difficult to anticipate misconceptions that students are likely to have and plan how to overcome them.

    It’s easy to…. plan lessons aimed primarily at entertaining students. It’s more difficult to design highly relevant lessons that will motivate all students and sweep them up in active learning.

    It’s easy to…. cover the curriculum. It’s more difficult to relentlessly follow up with struggling students with personal attention to reach proficiency.

    It’s easy to…. deliver the same lesson for the next 25 years. It’s more difficult to work with colleagues to reflect on what worked and what didn’t and continously improve instruction.

    It’s easy to…. look the other way and fail to refer a struggling student for special services. It’s more difficult to make sure that students who need specialized diagnosis and help receive appropriate services immediately.

    It’s easy to…. focus on teaching. It’s more difficult to focus on learning.

    It’s easy to…. give a formative assessment. It’s more difficult to use the results to adjust and guide instructional decisions.

    It’s easy to…. be the popular teacher. It’s more difficult to be the highly effective teacher students remember for a lifetime.

    This is a terrific post and I plan to share this article along with the comments with my colleagues!

    July 7, 2011
    Reply
  6. Love this post, Chris. As I think about starting a new position next year in a new school, I have to admit I’m a little worried, as well as excited. Will I be able to take the road that helps my students best? I know my heart is in the right place, and I will be surrounded by amazing people to help me.

    My two cents:

    It’s easy to talk about all the things you know are best for children and learning… in blogs, on Twitter, at conferences… It’s more difficult to actually put them into practice, persevere through the difficult times, and ask for help from those around you.

    July 8, 2011
    Reply
  7. Lisa M said:

    Really enjoyed reading the posts and the comments, very meaningful.

    It’s easy… to blame everyone around you, parents, colleagues, administrators, and students. It’s difficult to step back, and look in the mirror.

    July 8, 2011
    Reply
  8. Fred De Sena said:

    I need to get a handle on all these principles first before I can add anything to it….. Bravo….One criticism…can you make this poster size! Fred

    July 8, 2011
    Reply
  9. Bruce Palmer said:

    It is easy to listen and respond to active parents who have strong opinions on the issues that particularly effect their children. It is difficult to hear the voices of those students who do not have strong parent advocates.

    It is easy to look at data. It is difficult to use data and make changes.

    July 8, 2011
    Reply
    • Bruce, I love your first comment. It is easy to listen and respond to active parents……… Excellent!!!

      July 8, 2011
      Reply

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