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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!


CAIS Top 12

#1: Vision, Mission, Values & Strategy


In this blog post Donna Orem, President of NAIS, opines that too often strategic planning begins with a collection of needs instead of a firm vision statement of why the school exists. She identifies four suggestions for effective visions, from the book Make to Stick, that are applicable to schools:
  • "Articulate your organization's 'core idea.'"
  • "Don't zoom out, choose."
  • "Make the vision concrete."
  • "Show why employees should care about it."

The Innovative Imperative: Two Schools' Entrepreneurial Approach

This article looks at Blyth-Templeton Academy in Washington, D.C. Based on a 'disrupter' model this new school is small, relies on rented space, and has the mission to take advantage of what the D.C. area has to offer. As well, the school has been able to attract educators who have opted out of traditional teaching positions due to time or family constraints. The article also addresses established schools facing innovation.


#2: Co-Curriculum & Learning Environments


How Empathy Is Important For Parents And Teens When Things Get Stressful

Cognitive empathy allows us to try to understand someone else's perspective and how they perceive the world, even when our feelings differ. This article is for parents, but it is also a good reminder to educators that teaching adolescents to develop cognitive empathy is so important.
Researchers have found that cognitive empathy skills help teens regulate their emotions, improve their listening skills, strengthen their ability to tolerate conflict and help them to realize that people and situations can change, which allows them to face social challenges more easily.

Meet the conservative student activist who wants to 'make campus great again'

This CNN article is about Lauren Cooley's "Make Campus Great Again" speaking tour, which hopes amplify conservative voices on campuses. The article is from the United States and deals with post-secondary education, however, it brings up interesting questions about education's role with respect to diversity of viewpoints.

Single sex schools 'failing in their legal duties to accommodate transgender pupils'

What do transgender students mean for single sex schools? This is a question that schools are increasingly having to confront as transgender students come forward in greater numbers. The CAIS website offers many resources to help your school support LGBTQ+ students and if you haven't watched the CAIS webinar: Respecting the Rights of Transgender Students you can do so in CAIS Connect.


#3: Academic Program


Why Giving Effective Feedback Is Trickier Than It Seems

Susan Brookhart is an education consultant and the author of How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students. She says teachers often try to close all the education gaps a student has with one round of feedback, but that is often too much information for a student to process. She says, "The job of feedback is to meet the student where they are and give them what they need to take their next steps," and it is crucial that this feedback come at time when the student can immediately act on it, not at the end of a unit or essay when there's no chance for the student to incorporate the feedback. "Don't give any feedback on the final grade," Brookhart said. "If they're not going to be able to use it, it's wasted time - yours and theirs."

Why an ICU doctor says death ed is as essential as sex ed in high school

If sex ed exists in high school curriculums, why not death ed? It's an idea some doctors, palliative care advocates and educators are calling for. Kathy Kortes-Miller, an assistant professor at Lakehead University's School of Social Work, points out that approximately 10 to 15 per cent of students in Canadian classrooms are grieving a loss or anticipating the death of someone close to them. "It's kind of our last taboo subject. And as educators, and as Canadians in general, we have no choice about whether or not we will learn about death, but we have some choice about how we learn about it," Kortes-Miller says.


#4: School Leadership


Can Great Leaders Be Both Tough and Nurturing

The author of this article believes there are three types of employees: those that go to work to do what they're told, those that know their company's vision and try to follow it and those who actively imagine how their company could achieve its vision and find ways that they can personally contribute, beyond what their job description may say. The most effective leaders prefer the third option, which the author calls Extremer's choice, and reward people for being innovative.

Why CLOs and K-12 School Principals Need to Talk Now

The author of this article recommends that learning leaders talk to teachers' associations, school principals and K-12 teachers about the key areas of learning tomorrow's talent will need to succeed in the knowledge economy.


#5: Human Resources


Teacher Prep Slow to Embrace Social-Emotional Learning

Advocates for social-emotional learning point to research showing that the approach can help boost students' academic performance and that employers are increasingly seeking recruits with strong relational and emotional skills. While a majority of states include at least some social-emotional-learning competencies and whole-school factors in teacher-certification requirements, very few teacher-prep programs address such issues in mandatory coursework, according to a report by researchers at the University of British Columbia.

A Form of Professional Development That Research Shows Might Actually Help Teachers: Coaching

This article looks at a new study, authored by Matthew Kraft and Dylan Hogan of Brown University and David Blazar of Harvard University, which shows that one-on-one coaching is a promising strategy for helping current teachers improve. The authors define one-one-one coaching as being individualized, intensive, sustained, context-specific, and focused.

Also worth a read: An unconventional teacher-prep program on the rise in Philly


#6: School & Community


7 Secrets of Super-Successful Video Marketing

Video is an essential channel for marketers. But what makes a great video? And what keeps viewers engaged? Is it a good story? Or maybe it's all about reaching the right audience at the right time. We looked at some of our favorite examples of video marketing and uncovered some traits they have in common. Here are 7 secrets to creating successful video content.

  1. Focus on stories, not sales
  2. Use the first few seconds wisely
  3. Target relevant audiences on Facebook
  4. Tell your story with and without sounds
  5. Include Calls to Action (CTAs)
  6. Optimize for search
  7. Collaborate with other brands and influencers

Also worth a read: How to Memorize Your One Minute Message


#7: Enrolment Management


Even when it's over...it isn't over.

In this blog post Heather Hoerle, Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer of The Enrollment Management Association, writes that this time of year enrolment professionals are likely expected to share information about enrolment trends and activity over the last year. As you prepare to report she offers the following advice:
  • Establish which trends are having the greatest impact on your school's ability to meet with enrolment success
  • Build a narrative for the Board regarding where your school stands with enrolment today and support it well with data
  • If you are still looking for students, give your Board a plan for how you will work hard to reach the established goals.


#8: Governance


Choate Rosemary Hall, a Very Private School, Publicly Catalogs Its Sins

Last week, Choate Rosemary Hall, sent an email to nearly 14,000 members of its school community with a link to a report that described decades of sexual abuse at the school. The report named former faculty members who had abused students and described how administrators contributed to an atmosphere of secrecy that allowed the assaults to continue. Parents and alumni expressed support for the school for releasing the report and Paul Mones, a lawyer who represents victims of sexual abuse, said the report was likely to create a safer environment for students. Nonetheless, he said, Choate does not deserve a "pat on the back" because they only released the report because they had to.


#9: Finance


The Strategic CFO: 6 Steps to Becoming a Trusted Advisor to the CEO

While most financial analysis is primarily confined to that which has already happened, to help the CEO, the CFO should be more forward thinking. This whitepaper identifies the six imperatives - with specific action items - that can help CFOs transform into a strategic partner. The steps that are most applicable to independent schools are drive strategy, allocate capital resources, champion new technology, and assess risk and implement controls. Thank you to Jim Parke, Director of Finance and Operations, Ridley College for sending this along.

Also worth a read: Suddenly, Canada has one of the world's fastest growing economies - but is it real?


#10: Physical Plant, Health & Safety


Stress relief: Schools get creative to reduce student anxiety

A 2014 study by the American Psychological Association found that teens reported a higher stress level during the school year than adults. With incidents of teen suicide increasing over the past 15 years, school leaders are looking for ways to defuse student stress before it becomes dangerous. Some ideas employed by the schools featured in this article include: eliminating class rankings, engaging parents through workshops on anxiety and college admissions, giving students 20 minutes of free time each day and stress relief programs.

There's Nothing Accidental About Proper Risk Management

Whether due to driver error, mechanical failure or poor weather, many accidents involving school buses can be prevented or managed if schools and operators follow proactive risk management procedures, including having adequate insurance coverage.


#11: Commitment to School Improvement


Successful Digital Strategy Must Begin With Your Website

Your school's website should be the foundation of all your digital efforts and the best way to ensure you're making the right choices is to put the focus on your website users. To ensure the focus is on your web audiences and users you'll need to figure out how they want to interact with you online. An internal audit, a competitive audit or a survey are options for this discovery process. It is also important to provide your users with a full list of all the other digital resources and channels you offer on your website and let them know what they'll receive in each spot.


#12: Boarding Program


Why Your Child Should Attend Boarding School

The author of this Forbes article sites a recent study conducted by the Arts & Science Group of Baltimore for The Association of Boarding Schools, (TABS). The study showed today's boarding school students succeed at significantly higher rates than private day and public school students, especially in college and adult life.

China's elite boarding schools

Chinese parents pride themselves on the importance they attach to education and, in a country where siblings are so rare, many see communal living as good for their children. There is considerable demand for urban boarding schools but many parents who can afford it prefer to send their children to board abroad.







Recent CAIS Top 12


Please note:
Due to the links we publish being from outside sources, the older the Top 12 is in our archive, the more likely it is to find an expired link. This is beyond our control and we apologize for the inconvenience.

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