My TEDx Talk Reflections

Two months ago I had the opportunity to share some professional experiences at a TEDx event at the Minnesota Historical Center. The venue was phenomenal and the event was extremely well-organized.

In the weeks following my TEDx Talk I’ve been asked about my impressions and the experience altogether. People have inquired about what the TED Talk speakers appear to be glancing at on the floor. Some speculated it was a teleprompter, but it was actually a timer next to a monitor with the exact same screen image the audience was viewing. (TEDx has stringent guidelines about timing, and out of respect for the audience and other speakers, we were not allowed to go over our time allotment.)

Others have asked about the process itself, and that question is more difficult to answer. I’m not exactly sure how I wound up at the History Center…on stage, but I do recall being asked about speaking. My guess is that I probably responded to that initial inquiry with a very perplexed look similar to the picture below!

TED 2 (2)

Most recently a colleague I greatly respect asked me what I had learned from the experience. I found his question profound and wanted to expound on the answer I gave him off-the-cuff.

I learned that there is an urgency with which we must approach our work. My time on stage totaled less than 17 minutes. Our students time with us each year is short as well. Students only get one kindergarten year. They only get once chance to be 1st graders. We need to deliver and we need to deliver for them now. Best of all…we CAN do it!

We are living in a digital age and our classrooms must cultivate new essential skills in students to empower them to connect and learn responsibly. To do anything less would be diminishing their potential.

How might a student recognize that she has a passion for robotics, coding, film creation, 3D printing, public speaking, podcasting, engineering, art, music, etc. if she’s never been exposed to authentic learning opportunities? Our students deserve the chance to interact with “current best practices” and cutting edge tools. It is invigorating to work in a school that is 100% committed to kids and THEIR future. It’s all about our kids and they are the reason we will never stop learning.

The second thing that continues to be impressed upon me is that I would need a lot longer than 17 minutes to unpack all the AMAZING work our teachers are doing. I highlighted the pedagogy and projects of several staff members in the brief time I was on stage. However, there were countless endeavors I did not have time to mention. These are the difference makers and engine that drives our school’s continuous improvement efforts. Our staff is the core of all we do for kids.

I work alongside some of the most caring and highly skilled professionals on the planet. They embody what it means to be student-centered. They are also willing to take risks and make changes to stay relevant. They put pedagogy first while also prioritizing meaningful technology integration.

Our kids really are counting on us to be the change. I am humbled and blessed to serve at Greenwood Elementary, and I’m really proud of the work we are doing together to prepare our students to be real world ready. If you have not had a chance to see my TEDx Talk titled, “Arms Wide Open” please click HERE.

TED 2 (1)

About Dr. Brad Gustafson

I am an elementary principal and author in Minnesota. You can connect with me at or on Twitter via @GustafsonBrad

Posted on November 20, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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