Stop Hitting the ‘EASY’ Button!

By Jill Jackson

I remember when my local office supply store started stocking the big red “EASY” button on the counters near the register. I had visions of carrying it with me when I embarked on my weekly, travel-for-work exploits! Just the thought of stepping out of the line as my flight is delayed for the umpteenth time and finding a quiet corner at O’ Hare and smacking that “EASY” button seemed somehow soothing … if only it worked that way!

Oddly enough, I think that quite a few folks in education are trying to bring that “EASY” button into their offices or classrooms.

Here’s what the “EASY” button sounds like: “Gee, teaching didn’t used to be this hard; what happened to the good ole days?” or “Wow! I need to figure out an easier way to do this!” or “Isn’t there a way that I can make this faster?” or “If only the parents/prior teachers/board/administrators/community would do ____, then I wouldn’t have to spend so much time.”

Here’s the secret: THE EASY BUTTON HAS LOST ITS POWER! Well, it never really had any power, but let’s not get hung up on that.

The real deal is this: Teaching is hard. There, I said it! Teaching is hard, and it’s not for the faint of heart —or the faint of spirit, for that matter.

So we really need to level with ourselves and change the conversation from “How can I simplify this?” to “How can I make this more powerful for the students?”

By switching the conversation, we are placing the focus on the STUDENTS we serve. We organize around what is best and most efficient and effective for the kids—even when it’s tough on the adults … even when it stretches us and causes us to stay a little later, prep a little longer, ask a zillion more questions, or ask for help and risk admitting that we don’t have the answer. And who benefits? The kids AND the teachers.

Why is dumping the “Easy” button helpful to teachers? Because we gain confidence in what we’re capable of doing for our students. That’s the way confidence grows: by trying something you didn’t think you could do and actually doing it! And NOTHING tops a confident teacher!

So once we dump the “EASY” button, what will things look like on our campuses?

  • We will discuss options for fixing teaching problems without the filter of “How much time will this take?”
  • We will analyze our current practices and ask: What practices serve me well, but don’t necessarily pay off for my students?
  • We spend the time in the lesson prep, knowing that excellent teachers make teaching look easy because they’ve planned for lessons so thoroughly.
  • We will remind each other during team meetings that just because something is difficult or time-consuming doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do.

I’ve been working with struggling schools for more than 10 years now, and what I have learned over time is that teaching is NOT magic, and it IS difficult. But more than so many other professions, it’s worth it because the return on the time/energy/expertise investment is off the charts!

Commit with me to working through the difficult, even when the “Easy” button seems like the thing to do. We won’t regret it.

Jill Jackson is owner and managing director of Jackson Consulting, a full-service literacy consulting and school improvement company serving the nation’s lowest-performing/high-poverty school districts. Check out Jill’s tell-it-like-it-is tools and tips at, Tweet her at, or post to her wall at

Categories: General Education, Professional Developement | 20 Comments

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20 thoughts on “Stop Hitting the ‘EASY’ Button!

  1. Sylvia

    This article says it like it is. We need to hear more of this perspective to remind us all that it’s not about us, it’s about them, the students.

    • Right on Sylvia! Thanks for your comment! I loved the comment I heard recently: we teach kids to do difficult things by having them do difficult things. This is often true for us as educators: just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do!
      Jill Jackson

  2. Jaimi

    Jill really hits home with her comments – she tells the truth and offers solutions instead of excuses!

    • Thanks Jaimi for your comment…that’s exactly right. Excuses just tear down the fiber of our profession – positive, energetic work (even in the face of exhaustion and frustration) begets positive, energetic work. There’s no way around it!

      Jill Jackson

  3. Jill Jackson is my new mentor! Her insight and delivery have the right balance of truth and humor. All reflective teachers would be in agreeement with Jill’s views and could easily implement her “real world” solutions!

    • Judy

      Jill understands what it takes for reading instruction to be successful. Love learning from her.

      • Thanks so much Judy! The older I become and the more classrooms I see in action, the more I realize that instruction comes down to several simple but very powerful things: management of the students and their behaviors, management of the content load, management of the prep and planning, and monitoring and adjusting the instruction as we go along. “Staying light” in terms of not getting so invested in one way of doing things that we’re inhibiting what the data shows we need to alter, is critical!

        Jill Jackson

    • Thank you! That is so kind! I believe that we definitely have to laugh while we do this education work – – and that having a bit of fun while we do it doesn’t mean that we’re not taking is seriously or doing the important work. Reflection and refinement in our profession is the name of the game. Keep on keeping on!

      Jill Jackson

  4. Bobbi

    So right, Jill. Nothing easy about teaching – but it’s so worth it if you are willing to put in the necessary time and effort. It helps when you have great consultants to help you through the tough times! Keep up the great work, Jill! Hope to see your posts/articles here more often!

    • Bobbi – Thanks so much for the comment! Much appreciated! You’re right – nothing is easy, but it’s necessary and important. Stamina is highly underrated – -we need more of it to be successful!

      Jill Jackson

  5. Cassie Gaisford

    I would love to hear more from Jill Jackson!!!

  6. Jamey Heiss

    I wonder if education can come up with an honest, “Difficult” button!

  7. Patricia Kessler

    Jill continues to challengeus and remind why we’re in this business. It’s all for the kids!

    • You are so right – it IS about the kids. And the exciting thing is that we are seeing lots of folks put their money where their mouth is – and not just giving lip service to “we do it all for the kids” – – Now THAT’S exciting!

      Jill Jackson

  8. Carrie

    As a veteran first grade teacher, I find Jill’s advice very helpful and practical. Too many teachers don’t want to put in the extra time to be the best they can be. Good preparation definitely pays off!

    • Carrie – thanks for the comment. I think that we can definitely be more efficient in our work in schools, BUT we have to come to the reality that in order to get the work done, we’re going to have to put in the time. That’s one things that I can’t create for the folks we work with: TIME! BUT, we can use our time more efficiently and “create” it that way!

      Jill Jackson

  9. Kimberly Willey-Panter

    Well said. Needed to be said.

  10. Cindy Manoske

    Yes, let’s dump that Easy Button. I’d rather have confidence and teach the best I can for my awesome students.Thank you, Jill. Keep it coming!

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