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Leadership Institute

Prepare for senior leadership roles in independent schools with our Leadership Institute. Learn More & Register

Online PD Webinars

Each year, we host webinars on national topics that are most relevant to our leaders. Access previously recorded webinars in CAIS Connect. Register for upcoming webinars here.

New PD model

Anne-Marie speaks to moving forward with a new national PD model with the creation of one national conference. Watch the Video

2015 CAIS Accreditation Guidelines

Review the new CAIS Accreditation Guidelines that are being piloted this school year. We welcome your feedback!


Can You Fly?

Making the CAIS

Can You Fly?

By Jason B. Rogers, Headmaster at Rundle College

When I was five years old, if someone had asked me this, I probably would have answered, "I might not be able to fly now! But I'm about to take off!"

I remember donning my Superman costume and running in circles in my backyard attempting to get a little bit of lift. My younger brother, who so often was the innocent bystander in need of rescue, often sat by awaiting my triumphant arrival. I remember these days being filled with uncontrollable joy, unbridled optimism and the unquestioned belief that anything was possible. Metaphorically speaking, my cape was securely attached.

If Stan Lee were illustrating the end to this comic book beginning, I would have taken flight and never looked back. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The illustrator and author of the next pages of my comic book upbringing were the harsh realities of an inflexible classroom.

My elementary years were filled with self doubt and misunderstandings. As an undiagnosed student with dyslexia, I remember the day the metaphorical cape slipped from my back. This day came when I looked down at my desk and saw that I was the last student in class with a simple printing letter-strip taped to the top of my desk, highlighting the letters "b," "d," "p" and "q." It was at that moment of harsh truth that I realized I was different from the rest of the kids in my class. It was this difference that I soon self-identified as "being dumb" – which coloured in the lines of my entire elementary and high school years.

Fortunately, this was not the end of my story. In the years that followed high school I attended university and decided that I could make a change in the lives of students whose capes had also fallen off. At the University of Saskatchewan I studied education, with a focus on exceptional children. It was during these years that I learned two things that have changed my practice and the lives of the children I have worked with.

The first realization was an understanding of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). At the core of UDL is an ability for teachers to employ tools, often called accommodations, to help students level the playing field and maximize their potential. With these tools students are able to use their gifts to enhance and enrich the learning experience for themselves and for others. To better understand UDL, think about a pair of eyeglasses. When they are needed, they help the user read, drive, and generally navigate life as a person with perfect vision might. UDL aims to do the same for students in classrooms. These accommodations can range from standing desks to individual whiteboards to audio version of exams.

The second realization came in the form of four simple statements: I can, I understand, I will, I believe.

I Can: Until a student believes in themselves, no learning is possible.

I Understand: It is critical that students understand themselves as learners and as human beings. This understanding serves to empower them to unlock their individual superpowers.

I Will: Grit. Perseverance. The power to "stick with it." Whatever you call it, it is the central tenet to success. People who have it will succeed.

I Believe: Once you have established the first three, students will believe they can fly.

I suppose if you were to ask me today if I could fly, I might respond differently than when I was a five year old running circles in my backyard. Now, my response might be: "Flying is not as important as the belief that you can fly. I believe we can all fly, and more than anything, I believe it's my mission to help others remember that they can fly."





Keeping an Open Mind

By Helen-Kay Davy, Principal of Havergal College

Technology makes things more convenient and speeds up our access to information. But it can also limit what we discover, understand and believe.

In our desire to educate our students – to give them the tools to navigate complex, sometimes contradictory systems – shouldn't we be seeking technology that opens doors rather than closes them, technology...

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When the Strength of Our Community was Tested

by Erin Corbett, Head of School at River Valley School

Sometimes it takes extreme circumstances to appreciate what simple words like "community" and "learning" really mean.

River Valley School, located in the old and historic part of Calgary, was severely damaged during the catastrophic flooding of late June 2013...

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The Power and Benefits of Mentorship

by Eileen Daunt, Head of School at Bayview Glen

Mentoring is part of how we all function and flourish, from our first interactions with our parents, and then on to our relationships with friends, teachers, colleagues and those we work for. At Bayview Glen, we believe in the life-long value of mentorship and have developed a comprehensive mentorship program for all our students ...

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The Benefits of Live-Time Assessment

The Benefits of Live-Time Assessment

by Martin Jones, Middle School Principal and Craig Davis, Senior School Principal at Mulgrave School

Following on the work of John Hattie and others, Mulgrave has recently been focusing on efforts to improve teacher feedback, as well as student expectations and target-setting, in order to improve student learning.

Our initiative, Live-Time Assessment, involves openly sharing key assessment results and feedback with both students and parents soon after the assessment takes place ...

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Who We Are is as Important as What We Do

by Dr. Josep L. González, head of School at TFS – Canada's International School

In the midst of developing our new strategic plan for TFS – Canada's International School, I was struck by how we often talk about what we do but seldom about who we are. This sort of fundamental insight is particularly relevant for TFS because we are in a unique position, geographically, intellectually and academically ...

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Admissions – Not Just a Process

by Katherine Nikidis, Principal at Trafalgar School for Girls

Sometimes one size does not fit all. The concept doesn't work well for clothing and it doesn't work for standardized admissions tests. I also think that it doesn't truly work for Trafalgar School for Girls.

At Trafalgar we have been thinking about how best to assess, accept and nurture students so that they thrive within our school ...

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Perhaps It's Something in the Water

by Dr. Glenn Zederayko, Head of School at Glenlyon Norfolk School

Every school encourages a caring and community-minded experience for its students, but that doesn't fully explain what makes Glenlyon Norfolk – located on the western edge of the country, in Victoria – such a special place.

Perhaps it's something in the water. Or, more precisely, perhaps it's the fact that we are situated at the boundary of land and ocean, with the world there at our doorstep ...

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Building Canada's World School for Boys

by Dr. Tom Matthews, Headmaster at St. George's School

St. George's School is halfway through its ten-year strategic plan, One Boy at a Time. By any measure, it's a big and bold plan. We are positioning St. George's to be a world leader in the education of boys. We started with the basics, which for us meant recommitting to being deliberately and proactively a boy's school. In this era – when some single-gender schools remain so for reasons of tradition, and while others are considering or have already become co-ed – that in itself is a major commitment ...

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Keeping Our Focus

by Laurence Kutler, Head of School at Talmud Torah | Herzliah

What will our students remember ten years from now? I think it's safe to say they won't remember individual tests and assignments – those numbers and data that sometimes are in danger of consuming all our energies and focus.

I do think they will remember the humanity of our school, the warmth of the teachers and staff, the nurturing community that we focus on creating at Talmud Torah | Herzliah ...

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Singing Our Light

by Allan Hardy, Principal at Greenwood College School

At Greenwood, we believe strongly that students should be provided with multiple opportunities to challenge their minds, their bodies and their spirits. And now we have a spectacular artwork that demonstrates these beliefs.

"Singing the Light," by Toronto artist Sarah Hall, is 60 feet high by 18 feet wide and continuously spans five floors of our school. The central tree that stretches the length of the piece, together with the birds that come to rest within the piece and then fly off on their own, are allegories for the school community ...

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Our Students are Masterworks

by Ted Spear, Ph.D., Head at Island Pacific School

At Island Pacific School we believe that when kids are given a strong foundation and the right kinds of support, they can achieve truly remarkable things.

This belief is put into practice in our Masterworks program. Small by design – IPS has a total of about 65 students spread across Grades 6 to 9 – our school has created an intellectually creative challenge for our graduating students ...

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Neuchâtel Junior College Celebrates 60 Years

Neuchâtel Junior College - Bill Boyer, Head of School.

"We have many of the same concerns as other CAIS schools," says Neuchâtel's Head of School, Bill Boyer, "and that includes refreshing our facilities, fundraising, and ensuring a compelling education inside – and especially outside – the classroom."

"What is unique about our school is that we renew our entire student body every year. We offer Grade 12 only, and so each and every year we see a new group of students. That has its challenges and its pleasures."...

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Leveraging Our Power
redactor-temporary

by Martha Perry, Principal at St. Clement's School

As the product of a girls' school, I believe strongly in the presence and the nurturing of women in leadership. It is a comfort to know that CAIS believes in this as well.

Over the last four years, a module on Women and Leadership – first started by Kathy Nikidis, past Head of Miss Edgar's and Miss Cramp's School – has been included at the CAIS Leadership Institute. It has been important in fostering conversations among female colleagues about research, candid experiences, and considerations of next steps ...

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Keeping a Stiff Upper Lip or Digging Deep?

by Stuart Grainger, Headmaster at Trinity College School

The start of an academic year brings a new energy to those of us in education – students, staff and faculty alike. A fresh beginning provides another opportunity to set short-term and long-term goals, another chance to sharpen habits and routines and, ultimately, the ability to make our lives and communities better ...

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The Importance of a Blank Page, and Some Deep Thinking

by Graham Hookey, Head of School at Kempenfelt Bay School

Since 1984 I have written a weekly column for local newspapers in the communities in which I have lived. My purposes are quite simple. First, I feel that discussions surrounding education and parenting (the main thrusts of my writing) are both necessary and helpful. I throw ideas up in the air, share the insights and research of others, and then hope some of it settles in such a way that it's helpful to parents as they take on the ever-challenging role of raising children ...

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Happiness is the Truth!

As schools begin the new academic year, CAIS wants to wish Rodger Wright a relaxing, fulfilling – and happy – retirement.

After 33 years as Headmaster – at Trinity College and Collingwood School – Rodger Wright retired in June. But he did not go without a song ...

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Can You Fly?

By Jason B. Rogers, Headmaster at Rundle College

When I was five years old, if someone had asked me this, I probably would have answered, "I might not be able to fly now! But I'm about to take off!"

I remember donning my Superman costume and running in circles in my backyard attempting to get a little bit of lift. My younger brother, who so often was the innocent bystander in need of rescue, often sat by awaiting my triumphant arrival ...

Read more
Finding the Magic

By Paul G. Kitchen, Head of School at Rothesay Netherwood School

In 1965 I was a new grade 9 boarding student beginning what I thought would be a grand adventure. Both of my brothers had spent five years at boarding school, so I didn't ask any questions. When I was going into grade 9, it just seemed that it was my turn. Little did I know that my turn would end up lasting 46 years ...

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The Business and Joys of Education are Unlike Any Other

By Blayne Addley, Headmaster at Halifax Grammar School

The Halifax Grammar School is currently designing a new campus. It's being brought to life founded on the core principals of collaboration and group-work, and will celebrate liberal arts education, which I strongly believe will help develop the best and brightest opportunities for our current and future students ...

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The Story of Keisha (or, never underestimate the impact you can have on the life of a child)

By Dorothy Byers, Head of School at St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School

Human beings are socialized creatures: we need social interaction to thrive. Working in education enables the development of deep relationships with the children, parents, and adults with whom we work. The impact of these relationships may take years to understand or come to fruition. Let me share one that is profoundly impactful in my life ...

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Perhaps We See Some Revolutions Only in Retrospect

By Geoff Dowd, Principal of Trafalgar School for Girls

My undergraduate readings in education during the early 1970s created a fair degree of internal cognitive dissonance: they included Ivan Illich urging us to de-school society and Neil Postman disparaging systems that focused too much on how to make a living, rather than live a life. Taught by professors long removed from school classrooms (if they were ever there), I seemed to learn more about why education was not working...

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Everything Flows from Relationships

By Jim Power, Principal of Upper Canada College

Growth mindsets, 21st-century learning skills, cross-cultural competencies – these are among the important topics vigorously promoted in schools these days. But it's important to remember something that has been true since Plato first wrote about his cave: schools are, at their deepest core, about the fundamental and pivotal relationship between student and teacher...

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