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

The Apollo School: What 21st Century Learning Looks Like

In this Cult of Pedagogy blog post, Jennifer Gonzalez writes that the Apollo School, a program that operates inside a regular public school, is a template for what school could look like if we restructured it to reflect priorities like cross-curricular connections, student self-efficacy, and inquiry-based learning.

Stop Planning!

"What might happen if rather than developing and arguing over objectives, goals, timelines and key performance indicators, administrators, faculty members, and trustees spent the time framing and asking a limited number of strategy-related questions? And once answering those, developing a series of operational plans to deliver on strategy, such as linking budgets with priorities for the next two years?" write Peter Eckel and Cathy Trower, authors of Practical Wisdom: Thinking Differently About College and University Governance in this Inside Higher Ed opinion piece. While they acknowledge that the title of the piece is a "gross overstatement" and that institutions need plans, they believe that schools would be better served to focus on the strategy itself.

#2: Co-Curriculum & Learning Environments

How to Help Teenage Girls Reframe Anxiety and Strengthen Resilience

In the last decade rates of anxiety-related disorders in teenagers have steadily risen, particularly in girls. This Mind Shift article, which features many excellent points from Dr. Lisa Damour, a psychologist and author of the new book Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls is an excellent read for parents and educators of teenage girls alike. Some key points include:
  • An emotional outburst -- in and of itself -- is not a reliable indicator of mental health.
  • Some degree of stress and anxiety is not only normal but essential for human growth.
  • There are tested strategies for reining anxiety back in and weathering the storm of a meltdown.
  • Girls often feel stressed because they overestimate the difficulty of a situation and underestimate their ability to deal with it, missing the opportunity to correct that perception and recognize their own strength.
  • Instead of worrying about stress, teens should focus on how they can build in recovery time.
  • Sleep deprivation is one of the simplest explanations for the rise in anxiety-related concerns.

#3: Academic Program

One School's Approach to Equitable Grading

Many common grading practices are based on outdated beliefs that have been debunked, and "by continuing to use these practices, we contradict our current understanding about effective teaching and learning," writes consultant Joe Feldman in this NAIS article. He looks at how the Georgetown Day School implemented equitable practices and details the outcomes, including:
  • Students were less stressed, and classroom environments felt more relaxed and supportive of learning.
  • Grade inflation decreased.
  • Grades are more accurate and less biased.
  • Students' motivation increased.
  • Changes to grading practices leverage other aspects of programmatic reimagining.
According to this ISM article, "selecting and implementing a schedule that fits your school's mission is one of the most economical and effective ways to improve overall quality." Although there's no one right answer when it comes to your school's schedule and class length, the article offers a few rules to consider:
  1. Class length must allow for the successful delivery of information.
  2. Time must be the variable; achievement must be the constant.
  3. The class function should match the length.

#4: School Leadership

Why Highly Efficient Leaders Fail

"The high levels of efficiency that allow highly task-focused leaders to be so productive often come at the expense of a more people-based focus," writes executive coach Rebecca Zucker in this Harvard Business Review article. Some suggestions Zucker provides for leaders who sense that they may be overly task-focused: get feedback, identify high-value ways to focus on people, engage in self-observation and reflection, de-bunk your limiting beliefs and practice self-management.

Customer Service: Facing the Fury

In part 2 of their school customer service blog series, School Webmasters provides tips for dealing with upset persons, stressing that it is possible to turn a challenge into an opportunity. The post provides a recipe for active listening and suggestions for taking -- and giving -- criticism.

#5: Human Resources

Seven Steps to Creating A Culture Of Innovation

The authors of this Forbes magazine article believe that any organization can create a culture of innovation by following these seven principles from Harvard Business School's Teresa Amabile:

  1. Clear goal setting
  2. Work assignments that match the individual's interests and provide a positive challenge
  3. Open communication systems
  4. Frequent, constructive, and supportive feedback
  5. Equitable and generous rewards and recognition
  6. An absence of unnecessary bureaucracy
  7. Supportive collaboration

3 Tips for Providing Courageous Feedback

Avoiding conflict and failing to address areas for improvement can lead to more shame and blame than learning and growth writes Katie Martin, Head of Partnerships-West at AltSchool, in this blog post. Martin elaborates on these three tips for providing courageous feedback: shared vision, high expectations and high support and focus on the individual.

#6: School & Community

3 Annual Giving Strategies for 2019

Andy Reeher elaborates on three best practices to help you maximize your annual giving in 2019, in this npENGAGE post: appeal to donors on the anniversary of their last gift, don't waste money by over-appealing and rely on multi-channel outreach.

Also worth a read: Show Me the Love: Creative Ways to Steward Your Donors

#7: Enrolment Management

Say YES to Yield Events

While written for post-secondary schools, this article includes several strategies that independent schools can use to have a successful Admitted Students Day, including creating a catchy Instagram hashtag or Snapchat filter associated with a giveaway or contest, outside-the-box email campaigns, and student and alumni ambassadors.

#8: Governance

Can Only Three Nonprofit Board Committees Engage Directors Meaningfully?

Dr. Eugene Fram believes that the topics reviewed by a nonprofit Board should be limited to policy and strategy. To this end, Dr. Fram recommends that nonprofits should have three standing committees: Planning & Resource Committee, Assessment Committee and Executive Committee. He also lists some exceptions to this guideline.

#9: Finance

Economic pessimism still on the rise, latest survey shows

Pessimism about the Canadian economy continues to rise, according to a new survey from CPA Canada. According to this article, "The CPA Canada Business Monitor (Q4 2018) found that in the fourth quarter of 2018, 35 percent of respondents - professional accountants occupying leadership roles including CEOs, COOs and CFOs - were pessimistic about the national economy for the next 12 months. That's up from 28 percent in the previous quarter and is significantly higher than a year earlier when pessimism stood at 16 percent."

#10: Physical Plant, Health & Safety

University of Calgary offers 'groundbreaking' free online course on sports concussions

The University of Calgary has a wealth of knowledge in the area of concussion, and their Faculty of Kinesiology is offering to share it via a free, seven-week online course that is open to everyone. The ultimate goal is to improve the care of individuals at risk of or who have suffered a concussion. "It's a way to give back to the community and help translate some of the work that's been done in a way that is applicable and understandable to the general public," said Kathryn Schneider, an assistant professor and scientist at the Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre.

#11: Commitment to School Improvement

Inside the Wraparound Model That Puts Student Voice Front and Center

In an attempt to improve student success rates in her school, former principal Leigh Colburn went to her students and asked them, "What do you need? What is getting in the way of your learning?" According to this EdSurge article, "those two simple questions were later solidified as the first in a seven-step process Colburn now calls the 'Centergy cycle,' which makes student voice the central component in helping schools identify ways to address challenges facing students outside of the classroom."

#12: Boarding Program

Indonesian outbound continues to grow with emphasis on regional destinations

According to this ICEF Monitor article, Indonesia is sending 35% more students abroad than it did a decade ago and the majority of them are self-funded. While Indonesian teens may want to study abroad, many are reluctant to be far away from home, so the article recommends promoting a "warm and welcoming environment" for them.

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