Something Simple

March 11, 2020


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 wrote about what this might look like and why it matters so much in, Reclaiming Our Calling. And it connects to something I still hear people ask on a regular basis: What would you tell yourself as a first-year teacher or principal? 


My answer is something simple…


“There is no substitute for knowing the learner. Seek out the educators who do this well and never stop learning from them."


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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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