I was asked this question during a presentation last week. When I was a college professor, I told my students "Don't make it harder than it has to be." I feel the same way about rigor. Between all the difference perspectives of rigor, the belief that rigor is only for advanced classes, the new Common Core State Standards, and general feelings of being overwhelmed, no wonder teachers think rigor is hard.
I believe rigor can be EASY. Rigor is:
Engaging to all students. The traditional model of "sit and get" does not actively engage students in learning, and will not allow them to apply the higher order thinking skills needed to meet the new Common Core State Standards.
Accommodating to all learners. Rigor is for everyone, not just a certain group of students. Rigor may look a bit different for honors students compared to students who are English language learners, but a rigorous environment provides for all groups.
Scaffolds learning. If we simply raise the bar for students without providing the needed scaffolding and support, then we are setting them up for failure.
Yields results. Sometimes we are so focused on what we need to do to increase rigor, we forget the goal: to help students learn at higher levels. That's the ultimate focus of rigor.
Those four components can help you build a rigorous classroom. And, you don't have to add extra to what you are doing now. You are probably already focusing on improving student engagement, meeting the needs of all learners through support and scaffolding, and helping students learn. And that is rigor!