On Being Present

My family has a multitude of traditions that keep us grounded and connected to one another. For example, during Winter Break we know that we will be driving through the snow-covered streets to look at Christmas lights together. With hot cocoa in hand, we’ll laugh, admire the lights, and take a little time to throw judgment at the light displays that miss the mark in our eyes. We have more frequent traditions too. Things like church, family night, and eating together every evening anchor us to core priorities. Amidst the busy backdrop of life things like faith and family can be compromised if we’re not intentional. Making a commitment to “being present” seems more important to me than ever. M

The Story behind the Stories

There are so many good things happening in education that there's really no excuse for a leader NOT to highlight the work of students, staff, and the community. Our school is no exception. I see our team working really hard, and their commitment has led to world-class learning experiences for our students. One of the challenges with sharing some of these pinnacle experiences is that they can leave people who have not been connected to the journey feeling like the work is unattainable. I've always tried to balance the sharing of successful staff stories with some of my own leadership failures. Some of the struggles I've shared have involved humorous leadership oversights, and other times I've

This Changes Everything

I probably haven't shared this story enough before. (Especially since it has impacted me so much as an educator and father.) It was approximately five years ago that I was staring at my Twitter account wondering, "Why?" Why would anybody proclaim that this tool could yield anything of substance? What was the point? Who has the time? When I joined Twitter I truly didn't "get it." It made no sense at all and it continued making no sense as I watched a steady stream of celebrity selfies and sandwiches* pop up in my Twitter feed. Of course, there's still a steady stream of celebrity selfies and perplexing political tweets on Twitter, but somewhere along the line something changed for me. I start

Business Cards that Booktalk

I remember being a kid in elementary school (and middle school too, if I'm being honest) and getting really excited each time our local police officers drove through the neighborhood giving out football cards to my friends and me. It was a really neat way to connect; especially since I loved collecting things like trading cards. Fast forward 30+ years and I haven't forgotten how those conversations and collecting those cards made me feel. That's one of the reasons why I ditched my formal business cards several years ago and started creating principal "baseball" cards. Each year I update my baseball cards to reflect a sport or hobby I enjoy. The back of the cards include some fun facts and st

3 Practical Tips for Working with Challenging Parents

E-mail is quick. E-mail is efficient. And e-mail is often an educator's worst enemy when trying to build relationships or work through challenging issues with parents. The topic of creating student-centered partnerships with parents recently came up on the UnearthED Radio Program that I co-host with Ben Gilpin. During the show we chatted with Amber Teamann and "unearthed" three practical strategies that will help educators work through challenging situations with parents. In addition to steering clear of e-mail when navigating emotionally charged situations, I gained some valuable perspective from Amber. I walked away with a renewed commitment to approach situations with the explicit belief

Dr. Brad Gustafson is an elementary principal, author, and speaker. He believes schools can be spaces where creativity and innovation thrive, but only when we prioritize relationships and a relevant, connected pedagogy. 


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