Expect The Best


Register for the 2020 National Leaders Conference

The National Leaders Conference is your opportunity to interact with a range of senior-level leaders in your network. For 2020, the audience will be 200+ Academic Leaders. Learn more here.

Register for the 2020 Spring Leadership Institute

The CAIS Diploma in Independent School Leadership is designed to prepare participants for senior leadership roles in independent schools. Learn more here.

Apply to the CAIS Strategic Change Accelerator

The CAIS Strategic Change Accelerator provides the guidance and support for school teams planning important innovative change. Learn more here.

CAIS Top 12 - Archived

#1: Vision, Mission, Values & Strategy

LeBron James Opened a School That Was Considered an Experiment. It's Showing Promise.

According to the New York Times, the inaugural class of third and fourth graders at I Promise has posted extraordinary results on its first set of test scores. While the academic results are early, they are remarkable since many people considered these students to be "unredeemable". The school's culture is built on four "Habits of Promise" and the slogan "We are Family" is emblazoned on walls and T-shirts.

How Israel became a cybersecurity power - and what Canada can learn from it

Israel, with less than a quarter of Canada's population and GDP, has emerged as a top-five global cybersecurity power. As it moves to make a mark in innovative industries, Canada should study Israel's model, according to this article in The Telegram. Some key features of the model:

  • The government is focussed on developing human capital, beginning at a young age.
  • Kindergarten classes involve lessons in computers and robotics.
  • By Grade 4, students are learning computer programming.
  • In Grade 10 student learn the coding and encryption skills necessary to stop hacking attacks.
  • After serving in the military, students can continue to study cybersecurity in university.

#2: Co-Curriculum & Learning Environments

How to Map a Controversy

This ASCD Education Update article elaborates on the following steps that English teacher Sean Hackney takes to teach students to dialogue in this age of division:

  • Observe and Listen
  • Use Analysis Tools
  • Construct a Visual Timeline
  • Make an Argument
  • Reflect on Both Sides

If you missed it on Twitter: Teaching Our Kids About the Necessary Work to Have an Opinion

What Building a Tiny Home for the Homeless Taught My Students About Teamwork

Joe Romano teaches architecture and design at Annie Wright Schools. In this EdSurge article, he writes about how he worked with 16 of his students to build a tiny home, "the experience is as much a lesson in leadership and collaboration as it is in design, and we create intentional opportunities to cultivate each of our students' abilities to lead various parts of the project. The goal is to get them to realize the impact we make when we work on something greater than ourselves."

#3: Academic Program

Should Schools Teach Financial Literacy?

Jill Schlesinger is a CBS News Business Analyst and the author of The Dumb Things Smart People do with Their Money. In this LinkedIn article she discusses the importance of financial literacy and opines that "if we want to improve the quality of financial decision-making, the key may be to enhance mathematics curricula, not to provide a straight up "here's how you balance a checkbook" course."

Nourishing Brains and Bellies: The Cafeteria as a Project-Based Learning Center

This NAIS article details how Nardin Academy worked with students and the Beyond Green Sustainable Food Partners to revamp its cafeteria program. The school optimizes teachable moments and encourages students to deeply engage in learning about the complex problems our world faces.

Screen-free modern library opens at Calgary independent school

The new library at the private school Lycée Louis Pasteur was designed to be an engaging, computer-free space for students ages 3 through 18.

#4: School Leadership

5 rituals that spark creativity at Pinterest, Flipboard, and Amazon

Written by Kürsat Özenç, a designer and innovation consultant who teaches at the Stanford d.school, this Fast Company article details five rituals: The Idea Party, The Fixathon, The Failure Wake Party, The Suprise Ride Along and The Skillshare Fest. The article covers the use case, props, difficulty level, how it works and how to adopt for each ritual.

Empathy in Leadership isn't a nicety; It's a Necessity!

Brigette Hyacinth is the author of The Future of Leadership: Rise of Automation, Robotics and Artificial. In this LinkedIn post she writes that "empathy is the single biggest leadership skill needed today," and details the following ways for leaders to practice empathy and keep employees loyal, happy and engaged:

  • Show that you Care
  • Show Respect
  • Connect with your Team - Be visible.
  • Advocate for Staff - Exhibit loyalty to your employees.
  • Grant Autonomy
  • Be Fair and Neutral
  • Share and Give Credit

#5: Human Resources

14 Signs Change Is Happening at Your School

Cultivating positive changes within schools is one of the biggest challenges school leaders face. This School Leaders Now article details 14 signs that change is happening in your school, a few of which include:

  • Teacher-leaders begin to take over planning, facilitating, and analyzing professional development.
  • One-on-one chats spark school-wide conversations.
  • Teachers hold each other accountable.
  • Staff take fewer sick days.

Finding the Best Fit for the Culture of a School

In this blog post about building culture through hiring, George Couros writes, "in education, the focus is to accelerate the school as a whole, not only the individual. The success of both should be interconnected."

#6: School & Community

Make Your Meetings a Safe Space for Honest Conversation

Paul Axtell is the author of Meetings Matter. In this Harvard Business Review article, he writes "you can increase the freedom, candor, and quality of conversation in your own meetings by focusing on two key areas: giving permission and creating safety," each of which he details in the article.

#7: Enrolment Management

5 Schools With Powerful Marketing Videos

This Finalsite blog post features five schools who have created fun and informative videos to showcase their schools.

For millennials in Canada, the middle class dream slips a little further away: OECD

According to this National Post article only 59 per cent of Canadian millennials were found to have attained middle class status by their 20s, compared to 67 per cent of their boomer parents.

#8: Governance

Boards Need to Push ESG Out of Silos

In this article, Dennis T. Whalen, Leader of the KPMG Board Leadership Center, writes that Boards are increasingly prioritizing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. While doing so requires sustained effort, Whalen believes, "many investors recognize that poor ESG practices pose environmental, legal and reputation risks that can damage the company and the bottom line. And they are increasingly aware that companies with strong ESG performance have a better brand image, a more loyal and stable customer and employee base, lower cost of capital, better access to financing and, ultimately, a greater focus on long-term value creation."

Where to Start with Mergers and Acquisitions? Three Considerations

When it comes to school mergers, Jeffrey Shields, NBOA President and CEO, says "no longer is the predominant framework that a financially struggling school asks a better positioned school to merge, with the decision in the stronger institution's hands. The conversations are proactive, with mergers discussed as financial and strategic levers, much like taking on additional debt or expanding the school's preschool-grade 8 program to include an upper school." Shields spoke with consultants and leaders who have merged two separate organizations into one and the following resonated with him the most:
  1. This is a people-first process, not a legal or financial one.
  2. Test small collaborations if possible.
  3. Focus on the ways a merger or acquisition could facilitate the delivery of your school's mission.

#9: Finance

Is Diversification of Revenue Good for Nonprofit Financial Health?

University faculty members who study nonprofit organizations have been studying the value of revenue diversification for decades. Acknowledging that "the decision to pursue additional revenue streams is a vital question of strategy for any nonprofit," the authors of this Nonprofit Quarterly article reviewed this research in an attempt to answer whether or not nonprofits should diversify their revenue streams. They found several pros: flexibility, autonomy and community embeddedness, but also found several cons: risk and vulnerability, crowd-out of private donations and increased administrative costs.

Thinking About Increasing Your Private School's Tuition? Read This.

ISM's research has shown that an annual tuition increase should not impact enrolment. The key is to demonstrate that tuition is a worthwhile investment and to do so schools should use their strategic plan and strategic financial plan.

#10: Physical Plant, Health & Safety

Best (practices) in show: Therapy dogs in schools

Therapy dog programs are gaining in popularity as schools see these programs can result in calmer children, increased attendance, and improved test scores. To get the best results, educators must focus on the comfort of students and dogs.

Canadian research finds steep increase in suicide attempts by children

This National Post article looks at the dramatic rise in suicide attempts by children, which Dr. Brett Burstein, a pediatric emergency room physician in Montreal, calls "a pediatric mental health crisis." Fardous Hosseiny, National Director of Research and Public Policy for the Canadian Mental Health Association, said that there are protective factors to help young people who are struggling including a positive school environment and peer support.

#11: Commitment to School Improvement

How Democracy Prep Is Drawing Upon Civics to Challenge Its Students to "Change the World" - Before They Graduate

Democracy Prep includes 21 charter schools in five states that aim "to equip students with the knowledge and skills for a lifetime of active citizenship." Over the course of their senior year, students work on Change the World projects, during which "students identify a social problem, whether in the school, their hometown or the world at large. They write a research review examining the roots of that problem, design and implement some method of combating it, and measure the impact of their solution. To complete the assignment, the students have to defend their findings before a panel of three faculty members." A recent study found that Democracy Prep graduates "are significantly more likely than their peers to vote and to be registered to vote."

#12: Boarding Program

Mainland China is the largest source of foreign-born pupils at British boarding schools, with numbers over 9,000. If the recent trend of Chinese investors buying small British private schools that are on the brink of financial collapse continues, this number is likely to increase.

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