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CAIS Top 12 - Archived

#1: Vision, Mission, Values & Strategy

A powerful way to close out the year

Daniel Bauer believes that reflection is powerful and inspiring, and he recommends that school leaders take the time to reflect by writing a year-end letter to their community. In this blog post, he offers several tips to get started, including being transparent and vulnerable; consider writing as if you were watching a 2019 movie and making bold predictions for the next year.

For student-centered learning to work, schools must rethink this key component. Here's how.

Thomas Arnett, a Senior Research Fellow with the Clayton Christensen Institute, believes that the credit hour system and letter grades are flawed. Instead, he recommends three design principles for measuring students' progress in a student-centered learning system:
  1. Grade based on learning objectives, not course completion.
  2. Measure learning outcomes, not rankings or effort.
  3. Separate teaching and grading.

#2: Co-Curriculum & Learning Environments

Students in southwestern Ontario are singing 'O Canada' in Ojibwe

Inspired by her participation in an in-depth Indigenous training course, Beth Gellner decided to teach her grade 2 students how to sing the national anthem in Ojibwe. To do so, she partnered with Gretchen Sands-Gamble, who is an Indigenous education special projects teacher. The response from students has been very positive and the Ojibwe language version, which focuses on loving the land, is now spreading throughout the school.

4 pillars of a successful co-ed coding team

In this Education Dive article, Campus Technology Support Specialist, Leigh Frishman provides advice for educators looking to start a competitive coding team that engages students and helps them learn troubleshooting and analytical skills. The four foundational elements that pushed the coding team and program forward are principal backing, teacher and staff involvement, students who want to do it, and the right program.

#3: Academic Program

There Is a Right Way to Teach Reading, and Mississippi Knows It

In this New York Times opinion piece, Emily Hanford writes about Mississippi's notable gains on the fourth-grade reading test. Through workshops and coding, the state has been making sure that all of its teachers understand the science of reading, including the simple view model of reading: decoding ability x language comprehension = reading comprehension.

Also worth a read: The Most Popular Reading Programs Aren't Backed by Science

3 Ways to Use Music in the Classroom

High school English teacher Jori Krulder believes in the power of using music to make learning more fun and engaging and to foster a sense of community. In this Edutopia article, she shares some of the ways she uses music in her classroom, including creating playlists for different occasions, using music to help students remember important facts, and using students' music preferences to connect with the subject matter.

#4: School Leadership

Holiday Gifts for Nonprofit Readers

In this blog post, consultant Joan Garry recommends five books that she believes every nonprofit leader should read (as well as a bonus book) and offers a brief explanation for why she thinks each book is worth a read:

  1. The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker
  2. Nonprofit Management 101 by Heyman & Brenner
  3. Difficult Conversations: How To Discuss What Matters Most by Stone, Patton & Heen
  4. Messy by Tim Harford
  5. Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt

#5: Human Resources

Safeguarding the Mental Health of Teachers

For this Usable Knowledge article, Emily Boudreau interviews Henry Seton, a longtime high school teacher and department head, who has explored the hurdles that teachers face in safeguarding their mental health. They talk about how school communities can both hinder and support the wellbeing of their members and why teachers and schools need to create space to acknowledge and respond to the stress of the job.

#6: School & Community

Want to Support Early Childhood Education? Start With the Parents.

Every family at The Primary School is assigned a parent wellness coach who offers guidance on a wide variety of matters and checks in with the family regularly. According to this Ed Surge article, "these coaches play a critical role as the main liaison between the teachers, parents and the school. For teachers, they provide an additional lens into the lives of students, and help them understand how home dynamics may impact a child's engagement in the classroom." The article notes that Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician whose husband is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is co-founder and Board Chair of the school.

#7: Enrolment Management

Saturated Market? How To Stand Out In 2020

The author of this Forbes article shares a few tips on standing out when your qualifications look similar to the competition. You must have a product worth talking about since the best marketing is word-of-mouth. You must also build the right team to add to the experience you provide. Lastly, you must always nitpick ways you can improve, making sure that your improvement initiatives revolve around people. She recommends soliciting feedback from stakeholders and asking, "how could every facet of the experience serve the people better?"

#8: Governance

Lifestyle & Behavioral Information - Some New Ways to Seek High Performance Nonprofit Board Members

Dr. Eugene Fram is a nonprofit governance expert who believes that organizations must evaluate the lifestyle and behavioural attributes of potential Board members. As well he recommends that nonprofits consider establishing two Boards, one for governance and one for consulting. The consulting board would work on projects that have a defined time period. The post includes suggestions for recruiting for both boards.

#9: Finance

The other college debt crisis: Schools are going broke

According to this CNBC article, as many as 1 in 5 small private colleges are facing serious financial stress, and enrolments are declining. The article looks at schools that have survived by making difficult choices, including mergers, curriculum changes and budget cuts.

Milton Hershey School, Penn State Partner to Increase Graduation Rates for First-Generation College Students

Milton Hershey School is a cost-free, private, coeducational school that offers state-of-the-art facilities, advanced technology and hundreds of extracurricular activities. The school recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with The Pennsylvania State University aimed at improving the national college graduation rates for low-income, first-generation college students. According to the article, "the formal partnership supports the school's commitment to student success following graduation. Milton Hershey School's Graduate Programs for Success (GPS) Division provides students and alumni with a multi-tiered system of support that addresses their individual needs while fostering independence."

#10: Physical Plant, Health & Safety

Food Waste Warriors: A Deep Dive Into Food Waste in US Schools

Believing that "the cafeteria is one of our most important classrooms", WWF looked at cafeteria plate waste and identified many opportunities for creativity, learning, money savings, student empowerment, and food waste reduction. The organization issued a report that identifies ways to foster a learning environment that teaches students a new respect for food and empowers them to take action to reduce waste, including:

  1. Prevention First
  2. Measure
  3. Staff Up, Delegate Responsibility, Partner
  4. Share Table Iteration
  5. Explore Bulk Milk Service
  6. Planning and Prep for Food Waste Reduction
  7. Food Rescue
  8. Empower Students
  9. Tie to Material Waste
  10. Landfill Diversion
  11. Connect Students to Their Food

#11: Commitment to School Improvement

4 Common Mistakes Instructional Leaders Make (and How to Avoid Them)

Principal and Educational Consultant, Amber Dembowski, identifies and elaborates on four mistakes that she says are common among even the best instructional leaders. The first two mistakes are focusing on student outcomes instead of the process, neglecting to spend time with and provide intentional feedback to teachers who appear to have strong instructional practices.

Learning Happens When You Stretch (Not When You Overextend)

In this blog post, A.J. Juliani, Director of Technology & Innovation, writes about the three zones of learning: Zone of Automation, Zone of Aggravation, and Zone of Adaptation. The Zone of Adaptation is about the small 1% experiences that add up over the long-term to powerful learning and growth. Juliani stresses the importance of using tiny habits with students, and he suggests ten habits that follow the habit formation loop popularized by James Clear.

#12: Boarding Program

Closer to home: Intra-regional mobility in Asia

This ICEF Monitor article states, "the idea that a Western degree is automatically better and more advantageous than one obtained in Asia is losing ground." China, in particular, is now the world's fourth most popular study destination after the US, Australia, and Canada. As well, many Asian institutions offer lower tuition fees and provide the benefit of being closer to home.

China's Schoolchildren Are Now the Smartest in the World

This Bloomberg article looks at the OECD's triennial study of 15-year-old students across the world, which found that Chinese students far out-performed their peers in every other country in a survey of reading, math and science ability.

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