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CAIS Top 12 - Archived

#1: Vision, Mission, Values & Strategy


In this Edutopia article, Youki Terada looks at the big questions that education researchers tackled this year. He details several studies and findings, a few of which are:
  • Drawing helps learner retention, but doodling is often a distraction
  • Attendance awards can backfire, but highly engaging teachers can decrease absences by 49 percent
  • Gender differences in math performance are socially constructed
  • The "summer slide" is almost certainly overblown
  • Expanding a school's arts programs improved writing scores, increased the students' compassion for others, and reduced disciplinary infractions.
  • There are real-world benefits of delaying start times for high school students.


#2: Co-Curriculum & Learning Environments


The dormant potential of extracurriculars for remaking assessment

Chelsea Waite, a research fellow with The Christensen Institute, recently read a new book that found while deeper learning isn't consistently or comprehensively happening in high school classes, it is happening more predictably in extracurriculars. As a result, Waite recommends that educators who want to see deeper learning in core classes, work to develop assessment models in extracurriculars and after-school programs. Doing so allows educators to refine the assessments while optimizing the factors they care about most and also makes extracurriculars less peripheral by showing how academic knowledge and skills can be developed in many contexts, including outside of traditional classrooms.


#3: Academic Program


Can Biology Class Reduce Racism?

As Amy Harmon writes in this New York Times article, questions about race are usually left to the social sciences. However, a group of biology teachers from across the United States is testing the idea that the science classroom might be a better place to "provide a buffer against the unfounded genetic rationales for human difference that often become the basis for racial intolerance."

The teacher's role in "phenomenon-based learning"

Writing for The Hechinger Report, Tara García Mathewson explains that phenomenon-based learning in Finland is much like project-based learning, except that it is nonnegotiably interdisciplinary and must be driven by students' own questions about the world. The article details how phenomenon-based learning works at the Hiidenkivi Comprehensive School.


#4: School Leadership


4 Tips for Principals From a Parent Who Knows the Job

After teaching elementary school and being a principal for the past 24 years, Don Vu is taking a "gap year" to be a full-time dad. He's volunteering in his daughter's fifth-grade class every week, and in this Edutopia article, he writes about the different perspective this experience has given him. Vu acknowledges that goals and plans are essential but stresses that the kids and relationships are the most important things for principals to focus on in leading their schools, concluding, "as a parent, I just want to know that my child is important to you."

Also worth a read: Leadership Books That'll Up Your Game


#5: Human Resources


What the "Best Companies to Work For" Do Differently

Michael O'Malley is the Managing Director at Pearl Meyer and the co-author, with Bill Baker, of Organizations for People. After spending the past three years researching the best places to work in the United States, O'Malley and Baker recognized these common themes, which they detail in this Harvard Business Review article:
  • They provide people with life satisfaction as opposed to job satisfaction alone.
  • They find ways to rejuvenate employees by helping them identify their "calling" or the area of work that provides them with the greatest fulfillment.
  • They realized that their effectiveness relies upon the goodwill and solidarity of groups, so they put quite a bit of effort into bringing people together, especially to celebrate special occasions and recognize important life-cycle transitions.
  • Employees have the leeway to rearrange, modify, and improve their assignments feel possession over them.
  • Employees can be their "authentic" selves at work.


#6: School & Community


Superintendent of the Year: Joe Sanfelippo, Fall Creek School District

Over the past eight years, Superintendent Joe Sanfelippo has used social media to recognize "moments of awe" and build a culture that celebrates students and staff and extends a helping hand when needed. This Education Dive article outlines his approach to social media: find your audience, build momentum and celebrate kids.


#7: Enrolment Management


Five new year's resolutions for school marketers

Recognizing that schools are extremely busy places, the school marketing team at Image Seven offers their top five New Year's resolutions for school marketers:
  1. Review the marketing strategy including objectives, competitors and challenges.
  2. Plan tactical activities on your editorial calendar.
  3. Make time for learning.
  4. Create a 'no interrruption' zone for work that needs deep focus.
  5. Ask 'Why?' before springing into action by asking probing questions.


#8: Governance


Top Nine Questions to Ask a Donor

Brian Saber, President of Asking Matters, believes "the more inquisitive you are, the more engaged your donors will feel." He suggests nine questions to ask donors, broken down into three categories: About the Cause, About Our Relationship, About Their Philanthropy.


#9: Finance


Rebranding Financial Aid: A Primer

Writing for Net Assets, accountant David D. Schriver, Jr. cautions, "We are approaching a tipping point where nearly every potential student will require some form of discounting to be able to afford a private education." He believes schools that are looking to increase socioeconomic diversity should consider these three tuition models: tuition reset, variable tuition and indexed tuition. Schriver stresses that admission and the business office must work in tandem to identify the most qualified applicants and design a suitable financial aid package.


#10: Physical Plant, Health & Safety


The Mental Health Of Student-Athletes: A Necessary Operational Investment In Contemporary Collegiate Athletics

Writing for Forbes, Patrick Rishe, Founding Director of the Sports Business Program at Washington University, reflects on an intercollegiate athletics forum that he recently attended and the genuine concern among participants about the emotional and mental well-being of student-athletes. There are many interesting points in the article, including the fact that athletes typically require more urgent and timely care. The article stresses the importance of educating students, coaches, trainers, and parents.


#11: Commitment to School Improvement


Tips From Principals for Better Teacher Evaluations

This Edutopia article elaborates on these simple tactics that school leaders can use to make teachers evaluations more actionable and meaningful:

  1. Don't rely only on the observation.
  2. Visit classrooms frequently-not only when you do a formal evaluation.
  3. Don't get caught up in the "compliance mindset."
  4. Widen the lens so your focus isn't exclusively on the teacher's actions.
  5. Give an immediate assessment when possible.
  6. Focus on one actionable item.
  7. Encourage teacher input.
  8. Create opportunities for growth


#12: Boarding Program


Africa ascending: The demographic juggernaut driving student mobility in the 21st century

According to this ICEF Monitor article, Asia will remain a leading source of students for many years. However, Africa is home to the world's fastest-growing college-aged population and has seen a 26% increase in the number of students leaving their countries for higher education. France is the largest destination market for African students; China is in second place in large part because it has been investing billions of dollars in infrastructure in African countries.




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