Subtle Yet Profound

Many of us have been preparing for a profound shift in how students experience “school” for many years. Of course, we never imagined any shift would be as abrupt as what we’re seeing. And we never fathomed a world where we wouldn’t be able to celebrate students’ triumphs or support them in person in their moments of trepidation. Nothing about the COVID-19 pandemic feels right. It’s scary and these waters are uncharted. We’re used to being together. We’re used to being intentional. We’re used to purposeful planning. We’re used to scaffolding things just so. We’re used to accommodating different readiness levels. And what lies ahead of us will be hard. The things we always knew to be “best for

All Communication is Not Created Equal

Managing change during the COVID-19 pandemic is like trying to drink water out of 15 different firehoses turned on full-blast and constantly moving. Or so it seems. As much as we try to communicate with our teams expeditiously, the updates we're providing can become obsolete before people even have a chance to digest the previous plan. The only thing that's truly "easy" right now is the ability to understand why people are feeling overwhelmed. In uncertain times, meaningful communication is critical. Leadership is meaningful communication. Here are three things to help you lead using communication that's meaningful to you, your organization, and helpful to the people you serve. 1. Before Com

Something Simple

There aren’t too many things that stop me in my tracks. An incredible song, Pinkish-orange sunrises, And an educator who truly knows their students. For me, these are undeniably beautiful and exponentially powerful things. As a principal, I have the chance to see teachers who truly know their students on a regular basis. And like one of those pinkish-orange sunrises, it never gets old. Whether it’s in an IEP meeting, parent-teacher conference, or casual conversation…it always seems like the room orbits around the person (or people) who know the learner best. Their words have a gravitational pull, Grounded in the stuff that matters, Because “there is no substitute for knowing the learner." I

The Things They Need Us to See

Sometimes we overlook the things people need us to see most. Recently, my daughter participated in a community musical for Frozen. Dad’s don’t always make the most objective judges, but I’m telling you she and her fellow cast members put on five incredible shows. And after the final show, we headed to a local ice-cream establishment to celebrate with family and friends. One of my daughter’s friends from the cast, who happens to be visually impaired, joined our family for the celebration. (The fact she is visually impaired will be more relevant in a moment.) I want to share a couple of my favorite memories from our ice-cream celebration first. While we were eating together, we took turns tell

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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