#1: Vision, Mission, Values & Strategy
2020 vs. 2021: Notable trends in innovative school practice nationwide
In this Christensen Institute post, research fellow Chelsea Waite looks at the most recent data from the Canopy project, a collaborative effort to document school innovation and to categorize and compare the nature of those changes. Waite says that schools are piloting a range of small-scale innovations during the pandemic, including transitioning to mastery-based learning, testing changes to their staffing models, creating safe spaces for students to have "real talk" to process current events. Many schools reported launching virtual enrichment, showcases, field days, and career days, and several leaders described new initiatives to engage and support parents.
#2: Co-Curriculum & Learning Environments
10 Strategies To Get to Know Your Students and Create an Inclusive Learner-Centered Culture
In this blog post, Dr. Katie Martin, VP of Leadership and Learning at Altitude Learning, writes, "Given what we now know about the influence of our environments on learning, it seems clear that creating an equitable and inclusive learning community shouldn't be an add-on when it is foundational to learning and living our lives to our fullest potential." She suggests ten strategies that you can use to get to know your students and continue to build relationships throughout the year in any learning environment.
#3: Academic Program
How to Create Safe Spaces for Students to Hold Courageous Conversations
For this article, Ellen Min Hartman, Associate Director of Learner Experience with Global Online Academy spoke with teachers Joel Garza and Velicia Pernell about three strategies educators can use to create authentic, safe spaces for students to hold courageous conversations:
- Ask Students to Start with Themselves.
- Give Students Permission to Get it Wrong.
- Empower Students to Create a Plan.
#4: School Leadership
Make Time for Small Talk in Your Virtual Meetings
Writing for Harvard Business Review, consultants Bob Frisch and Cary Greene stress the importance of small talk in virtual meetings, saying "It's the chit chat, the side conversations that lift emotions and promote well-being. It's one way we strengthen and deepen relationships and is critical to building high-performing teams." They offer some ways to reintroduce small talk into your meetings:
- Make small talk an agenda item, not an afterthought.
- Start team meetings with an individual check-in or individual icebreaker.
- Introduce agenda items designed around opinions and conjecture.
- Leave unstructured time at the end of team meetings.
#5: Human Resources
The right to bare arms: Considerations for COVID-19 vaccines in the workplace
In this article, BLG law firm looks at whether an employer is entitled to require its employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in order to remain at or return to the workplace. The authors offer ten things to consider, one of which is the nature of the workplace: "in workplaces where employees work closely with vulnerable populations or in close physical proximity to other employees, vaccination may be more likely to be upheld."
#6: School & Community
Three Reasons to Be Optimistic About Independent School Fundraising in 2021
In this SAIS blog post, Jessica Browning, Principal & Executive Vice President, Winkler Group, writes, "It may sound counterintuitive, but we see significant opportunity for independent schools to realize philanthropic growth in 2021, particularly in major gifts." Her optimism is based on the goodwill she's seen and three observations: grateful donors, external factors such as stock market gains and a forward focus. Ultimately her advice for 2021 is simple: "keep building these meaningful relationships and keep fundraising."
#7: Enrolment Management
School Admissions as a Moment that Matters
In this blog post, David Willow, Director of Advancement at the International School of Brussels, reflects on Chip and Dan Heath's book The Power of Moments
, which he says "reads as a call to reimagine the work of school admissions, no longer defining it as a way of providing families with the right information but rather offering prospective families carefully engineered experiences that provide both insight and delight." He offers three ideas for further consideration:
- Start by getting the basics right.
- Design your experiences around people who already like you rather than those who are yet to be convinced.
- Have the courage to offer a different experience.
How Principals Affect Students and Schools
According to this systematic synthesis of two decades of research, "an effective principal's impact is stronger and broader than previously thought, making it 'difficult to envision' a higher return on investment in K-12 education than the cultivation of high-quality school leadership." According to the report, evidence links four domains of principal behaviours to positive outcomes for students and schools: engaging in instructionally focused interactions with teachers, building a productive climate, facilitating collaboration and professional learning communities, and managing personnel and resources strategically.
Innovators, Adaptors, and Deaths - The Reality of This Moment in Time
In this blog post, Ian Symmonds writes, "I am deeply concerned that we currently have too many over-generalized, non-distinct, over-priced, inflexible, smallish private schools and colleges, with limited resources. They are all trying to find a way to preserve a past that is declining. There simply won't be room for all of them." Symmonds writes about the closing of a small private college and stresses, "if you are not the leader in something that matters, your future is likely in jeopardy."
#10: Physical Plant, Health & Safety
Why Did We Ever Send Sick Kids to School?
In this article in the Atlantic, writer Sarah Hosseini says that the pandemic has made it clear that an overemphasis on school attendance is dangerous. She writes, "This speaks to a broader problem in American culture, which places a high value on productivity, pushing yourself, and "soldiering through" illness in nearly every line of work. Strict school attendance policies likely result in part from these same norms. But that doesn't mean school leadership and administrators are not responsible for fueling this cultural ill by instilling these values in a new generation."
#11: Commitment to School Improvement
20 Invention Opportunities in Learning & Development
This Getting Smart report outlines 20 invention opportunities that have opened up as a result of the global pandemic, grouped in three sections:
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- Community Agreements: six opportunities for new tools and new agreements to more equitably provision learning opportunities;
- Learning Design: seven opportunities to create more powerful, more equitable learning experiences; and
- System Design: seven opportunities to bring powerful learning to scale across public systems.
#12: Boarding Program
The link between vaccine rollouts and the attractiveness of study destinations
This ICEF Monitor article looks at how vaccine rollouts are influencing international students' decisions about where to study abroad. A few key points:
- How quickly a destination country is progressing towards herd immunity through vaccinations may prove to be an important determinant of student demand in 2021/22.
- Higher levels of vaccinated people pave the way for economic recovery – and campuses to open to in-person learning.
- So far, of the leading English-language destinations, Canada is proceeding the most slowly.
- Infection rates have been much higher in the UK and the US than in Canada throughout COVID, but they are coming down.