#1: Vision, Mission, Values & Strategy
Five Strategic Steps to Design for the Future of School
Eric Hudson, Director of Learning and Design at GOA, says that schools must have "an intentional process to identify, explore, and choose the possibilities to pursue" to make mission-aligned decisions. Hudson outlines the five strategic steps that GOA has identified to guide school leaders through this process:
- Articulate a long-term, aspirational vision for your school.
- Use design sprints to define and design a scope of work.
- Set measurable goals for structure, culture, and pedagogy.
- Visualize the process and create usable tools to assess progress.
- Engage and motivate key stakeholders.
#2: Co-Curriculum & Learning Environments
Students Are Struggling. They're Asking Us to Slow Down and Focus on Relationships.
Writing for EdSurge, librarian Kimberly Rues laments that her connections with students are "nowhere near where they usually are by this point in the year." Rues says educators should take the time to rebuild relationships and communities and reconnect rather than focus solely on academics. She writes, "Kids will do anything for a teacher they are connected to. They will push themselves harder, take on greater challenges, and find the grit to get through the tough stuff". In the article, Rues cites a few examples that highlight the power of connection.
#3: Academic Program
Adopting a 'Pen Pal' Mindset When Giving Feedback
Writing for Edutopia, contributing editor Sarah Gonser says that making simple changes to the quality and tone of feedback can help develop nurturing, trusting connections with students. The article includes several tips and strategies for making this subtle mindset shift:
- Try a coaching approach that includes plenty of collaboration with peers.
- Adopt a warm, cool, and hard feedback framework to deliver feedback that's empathetic and supportive.
- Recognize that providing too much corrective feedback demotivates learners, so focus your feedback.
#4: School Leadership
Research: A Little Recognition Can Provide a Big Morale Boost
The authors of this Harvard Business Review article share new research on the power of symbolic awards, such as thank you notes, public recognition, and certificates. They say these simple interventions can significantly improve employee motivation; however, they stress that it is essential to customize these rewards to your unique context. Specifically, the authors highlight five key factors managers should consider when trying out low-cost symbolic awards: the most impactful messenger, the best timing, whether to make it private or public, attention to detail, and the importance of starting small.
#5: Human Resources
Four ways to support teacher well-being
Writing for the ASCD InService blog, Brooke Stafford-Brizard, vice president of research to practice at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative says, "the well-being and development of our students begins with how we take care of our adults and support them with resources to care for students." Stafford-Brizard elaborates on four powerful tactics schools can use to build environments that prioritize educator and staff well-being, one of which is providing educators with professional development that supports student well-being and connection.
#6: School & Community
How to Start a Major Gifts Program at Your Independent School
In this blog post, advancement consultant Barbara Barron encourages schools to consider implementing a major gifts program to fund projects that are "vital, but not urgent". She says schools typically should work on 3-5 projects at any given time, so they have a short menu to offer to donors, and while there should be a range of costs, each project should be expensive. To start, set the entry-level gift -- Barron recommends setting it high! -- and then look for prospects in the Annual Fund. Barron offers some suggestions for making the ask, which she says "is actually the easiest part of a blossoming major gifts program".
#7: Enrolment Management
Create a streamlined student onboarding experience
After "secret-shopping" at for-profit schools, the authors of this EAB blog post offer three lessons for community colleges to create an excellent virtual onboarding experience, which are also applicable to independent schools:
- Every conversation with a frontline staff member felt like an advising discussion, and each staff member was also very knowledgeable about different stages of enrollment and the student experience.
- The institution -- not the student -- is responsible for managing momentum.
- Students are incentivized to provide their contact information pre-application.
Abuse Can Be a Preventable Risk
This Net Assets post summarizes the session "Mitigating the Risk of Abuse in Boarding, Camp and Auxiliary Programs," presented by J. Ross Mitchell, JD, an account manager at Praesidium during the 2021 NBOA Annual Meeting. Mitchell says that schools should adopt this risk-reducing framework: "first, analyze the risk; second, strategize how to work around it; and third, implement the process and prevent abuse of access, privacy and control." The post includes questions that Mitchell recommends school leaders consider.
Canadian inheritances could hit $1 trillion over the next decade and both bequeathers and beneficiaries need to be ready
Writing for the Financial Post, Certified Financial Planner Jason Heath says that estimates of expected Canadian inheritances over the next decade are as high as $1 trillion. Heath offers some decisions and strategies to consider when it comes to the complexities of estate planning, including endowments to charity, cash gifts to a minor grandchild and trusts to hold money for education.
#10: Physical Plant, Health & Safety
Has the Era of Overzealous Cleaning Finally Come to an End?
This New York Times article by Emily Anthes stresses that to keep people safe from COVID-19, schools must focus on air quality - investing in improving ventilation and filtration -- rather than surface cleaning. The article quotes Dr. Joseph Allen, a building safety expert at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who says the focus on surface cleaning has had real costs: "It has led to closed playgrounds, it has led to taking nets off basketball courts, it has led to quarantining books in the library. It has led to entire missed school days for deep cleaning." As well, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the C.D.C., stresses there are several safety risks to consider with fogging, fumigation and electrostatic spraying.
#11: Commitment to School Improvement
The power of listening to learners: Three important questions to ask right now
What's working? What's not working? What should we do differently? Devin Vodicka, Chief Executive Officer, Altitude Learning recommends asking students these questions right now and using their feedback to guide important conversations with teachers, staff, administrators, and families. Writes Vodicka, "we are all learners, especially during this pandemic, and the collective wisdom from many perspectives is most likely to inform compassionate and insightful decisions that will best help us to engage and inspire one another."
#12: Boarding Program
International student recruitment and online communications in the age of COVID
This ICEF Monitor article offers strategies and tips for adapting student communications for recruitment marketing during the pandemic. Successful digital outreach efforts should address all of students' and families' practical questions, excite students about the prospect of studying at your institution and respond to their lives and particular needs during COVID. The article also says it is important to let students know they are not alone and encourage them to get mental health help if needed.