Short Cuts

Short cuts. We all want to take short cuts. And sometimes short cuts are useful. Don’t we love when we learn a new short cut to drive to our favorite places. But most of the time, a short cut does not help. This is particularly true in school.  Students often love short cuts, like when they use the computer to find math or social studies answers. Except then the student does not learn the math strategy or how to research a social studies assignment. The short cut, cut short their learning. 

This is even more true when we talk about behaviors: student behavior, teaching behavior, social behavior. I have begun leading a book study at one of my client schools as our professional development focus this spring. We are reading Power of Our Words published by the Center for Responsive Schools. One of our discussion points this week was that changing our words or the actions of a student will not happen overnight. There is no short cut to this type of change. It is a slow and steady process that actually can double back on itself at times, like a switchback on a mountain road. When a teacher makes intentional changes to the verbiage they use, or even adding silences to their teaching pedagogy, it takes time for these changes to be automatic.

Using teacher language to support children in their academic and behavioral growth also takes time. Just using direct praise, ‘you remembered to put your book away before sitting down,’ a few times will not likely change the students’ behavioral patterns. But don’t give up this approach, over time you will see students responding to the direct praise because you gave them specific feedback to learn from and replicate.

I am listening to a group of high schoolers practice for their upcoming play. They are focused and repeating their lines and adding additional practice times so that they can present their play in just over two weeks. In this instance they recognize that practice and time, not short cuts will get them the result they want. Some of these same students met with me yesterday for a review session for SAT testing. Then they wanted to know why they needed to do so many practice questions and why we were discussing test taking strategies. They wanted a short cut. This made me think about my PD session earlier in the week and we had a discussion about short cuts and how putting the work (or taking the long way) will be the better plan. Do I think this discussion led to their better attitude about the play? No. They are enjoying the play and studying for the SAT is not as rewarding in the short term. But at least one student told me she is ready to work hard as taking the SAT fits in with her long term goals.

Short cuts are usually short term solutions when it comes to changing habits. One often feels disappointed when the behavior/habit resurfaces. But taking the long, winding road, and periodically stopping at the scenic look outs to reflect on the progress, is more likely to create a lasting change.

Looking to do a Book Study with your faculty? Let’s talk about the option for a virtual book study.  Reach out via email me, Or connect with me on Twitter/Instagram (@edtechease) or Facebook ( We can also talk about other ways I can support your teachers.

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