“What comes easy won't last long and
what lasts long won't come easy.”
As we begin a new calendar year, many people make resolutions and set goals designed to positively impact themselves and/or others. Making such resolutions is relatively easy; sticking to them is often difficult. Some will no doubt succeed in adhering to their resolutions while others, inevitably, will fail. The difference? In many cases, those who succeed will take the hard road rather than the easy road when faced with difficult choices.
For example, many self improvement plans center on exercise, diet, or finances. In each instance, success depends on choosing the hard road on a consistent basis. Waking up early to run five miles is taking the hard road. Sleeping in and skipping the run is the easy road. Cooking a meal with healthy food can be a hard road while ordering a pizza to be delivered is an easy road. When it comes to finances, spending $100 is an easy road; saving $100 is a hard road. Unfortunately, it seems as if we humans are generally wired to take the easy road; the default position seems to be the status quo or to create as little stress, work, or discomfit as possible. On the other hand, it takes discipline and intentionality to do what is hard.
In our personal lives, there are scads of examples proving the easy road/hard road concept. I suspect this phenomenon is equally applicable in our professional lives as educators. What are some hard roads we must take now in our classrooms and schools so that our lives (and those of our students) eventually become easier and we achieve our goals? There are likely endless examples, but one that comes to mind is addressing the underperformance of a student or staff member. Perhaps a student continuously misbehaves in our classroom. Perhaps a teacher in our school is not adhering to our cultural norms. In both instances, the easy road might be to overlook the underperformance or to address it, but only in a cursory way. Perhaps we talk to the student, but fail to contact the parent who has proven difficult to deal with in the past. Maybe we mention our concerns to the staff member, yet still provide a satisfactory formal evaluation. This easy path will eventually become hard as the underperformance will continue and likely worsen.
What are some other instances at our schools in which it behooves us to take the hard road now so we can enjoy the easy road further down the line and reach our ultimate destination as smoothly as possible? Do they involve grading, assessment, data, and pedagogy? Teacher evaluation, parent/community relationships, standardized testing, and implementing change? I would love to hear your thoughts. Knowing that hard roads become easy and easy roads become hard and choosing, therefore, to take the hard road is another way we Teach, Learn, and Lead with Passion!