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.