Friday, July 8, 2011

The Easy Road Or The Hard Road

Recently I read an excellent blog post on Connected Principals submitted by Chris Wejr. Educators from around the globe added outstanding comments and I wanted to share some of my favorite It's Easy... It's More Difficult statements. I hope you will comment and add to this list.

It's Easy...
Posted by Chris Wejr

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 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 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… 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?
Sean Grainger added to the conversation:

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… know kids names; much harder to know their stories

Shawn Blankenship added to the conversation:

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…. 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.
Bruce Palmer added to the conversation:

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.

Lyn Hilt added to the conversation:

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 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.

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