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It’s Easy…

Which road will you take?

Which road will you take? image - 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, 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 be 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 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- ask yourself: 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.

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Chris Wejr

Proud father of twin girls. Currently working as the Principal of James Hill Elementary School (K-5) in Langley, BC, Canada. Passionate about strengths-based education and leadership, assessment, and human motivation.

36 Comments

  1. It’s easy to say I’m too busy.

    It’s hard to implement change.

    It’s easy to follow the textbook.

    It’s hard to make curriculum relevant.

  2. It’s easy to compare kids to each other so you can give out grades.

    It’s hard to go through self-evaluation, a teacher evaluation, and follow up talks on kid’s work.

    It’s easy to just sit in the staff meeting and quietly disagree.

    It’s hard to try to stand up and speak for change.

    What a great article Chris. I will keep it in mind when I teach my two classes of Remedial Science 9 kids today.

  3. It’s easy to teach the same information in the curriculum the same way year after year,

    It’s difficult to be a learner with the students and explore new ways to introduce materials and information to the students

  4. It’s easy to say we have no time for questions.
    It’s difficult to say I don’t know the answer.

  5. It’s easy to take things personally.
    It’s difficult to step back, separate, and think about what’s being said so as to reflect, discuss and learn professionally.

    I’m saving and sharing with my staff. Thank you so much for a simply written yet deeply profound post.

  6. It’s easy to put off the difficult conversation (or send an email instead)
    It’s hard to “skate into the puck” and have those challenging and difficult conversations.

  7. It’s easy to say, I can’t learn how to do this, I’m …………..

    It’s hard to set your fears of failure aside and embrace new ideas.

  8. It’s easy to “bail out” and promote the use of calculators and rote “learning” too soon.

    It’s difficult and more time consuming to actually transfer UNDERSTANDING of concepts to learners through well-developed activities/explorations.

  9. Inspiring post. Thank you!

    It’s easy to give up…its harder to fight on.

    It’s easy to say no one else does it why should ….its harder to say this is the best way and I will blaze the trail.

    It’s easy to follow, its hard to lead.

  10. It’s easy to teach within the 4 walls of your classroom.

    It’s hard to get others to branch out and embrace digital learning and 21st century learning.

  11. It was easy to read this post. It is hard to have the courage to apply this modelling to everyday life.

    It is easy to view the world in terms of polemics. It is hard to understand the complexities and deal with the greys.

  12. It is easy to write a post like this
    It is hard to live up to it.

  13. Thanks for adding the the list. One of the reasons why I blog is to put my beliefs out there and so I will be accountable to act on my beliefs. There are many days that I fall back and do the easy things for a variety of reasons; growing each day and year as an educator, I hope to take the more difficult paths more and more. By doing this, these difficult paths become easier as my comfort zone grows. By writing this, I hope others will continue to challenge me to take the path that leads to real learning.

    PS. Johnny – love the “skate into the puck” analogy!

  14. It’s easy to say students aren’t capable of learning at higher levels.
    It’s hard to push them (and yourself) out of comfort zones so they do achieve at higher levels.

    Excellent post. It is hard to live up to, but it gives a clear vision of what we need to live up to.

  15. It’s easy to take the easy road when the hard road looks less travelled on.

    It’s hard to help the hard road be okay for others.

    It might end up being more difficult not ever experiencing or knowing what might have been down the hard road.

    BOOM, Chris!

  16. It’s easy to be unhappy, get angry and lash out at students, parents, policymakers, and the system we know as education.
    It’s hard to take a step outside of the situation and realize that happiness comes from within, there is no more money or time than what we have, that the students we have in our schools are the very best our parents have (they don’t keep the good ones at home) and we have the greatest job on earth.

    Great post, Chris!

  17. it’s easy to “go along to get along”. it’s difficult to stand up for what you know is right.

  18. It is easy to stay in a job where you are the “expert” in the room.

    It is harder to take a risk, perhaps fail, but show your vulnerability as you learn along side your students.

  19. It’s easy … to not do technology because it isn’t your thing.

    It’s hard … to find the appropriate technology tool to help your students become digital learners in a global society.

  20. One more! 🙂
    It can be difficult to stay on the road of integrity.

  21. Love this post Chris! I had a principal tell me early on that, “If you aren’t willing to go to the hard places, then you aren’t helping your staff or your school.”
    I wrote a post about this here, http://www.connectedprincipals.com/archives/1426
    But this post seems to go beyond that and really looks across-the-board at all the ways we not so much choose, but accept the ‘easy way, when in fact we should be making conscious, thoughtful, and deliberate choices to do what’s best for kids.
    Brilliant!

  22. It’s easy to read this blog entry and the great comments. It’s hard to add to this great list.

    Thanks for providing a forum for some interesting thoughts.

  23. Thanks Chris. Excellent post that challenges lots of firmly held beliefs.
    It’s easy to hide behind the convenient excuses of poverty, immigrant, single parent etcetera.
    It’s harder to use all the information we have at hand to structure fabulous learning environments to overcome any impacts.

  24. It’s easy to hold on to the thought that a child with special needs doesn’t belong in your classroom
    It’s more difficult to keep telling yourself and your co-workers that every child is more than welcome and you will do everything that’s in your power to nurture these kids and keep challenging them to discover their own talents at the same time.

  25. It’s easy to read this post and agree.
    It’s hard to ignore the ignorers and focus on the movers.

    It’s easy to forget that time and lack of tech are issues with teachers who wear so many hats in these changing and budget-strapped times.

    It’s hard to search for support and solutions that encourage such choices.

    Conversely,
    It’s hard to do it all.
    It’s easy to take one small step.

    Thanks for the encouraging post which helped me take one more small step: one staff meeting at a time.

    What step will you take?

    • I love the idea of gentle nudges away from our comfort zones…. we need to model learning and continue to try different approaches based on effective research. As you said – One small step.

  26. It’s easy to continue with what used to work well when teaching kids. It’s hard to accept that what used to work well is no longer effective.
    It’s easy to teach in a way that you’re comfortable with. It’s hard to change your practice so that students are comfortable and confident in their learning.

    Great post Chris!

  27. A lyric of a song just made me think of this post again!”
    “One thing I’ll say for the less traveled way…. doesn’t have subtlety … has twice the gravity…” 🙂
    (at the beginning of Passenger Song ~ Great Lake Swimmers)

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