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

Developing a Risk Culture to Support School Mission and Vision

"In the independent school world, there are many threats to the well-being of institutions and the students we serve. And it is crucial that we manage those risks. We need to identify, understand, and mitigate risks that could cause harm. At the same time, we must be open to risks that drive opportunity. Therefore, developing an intentional risk culture is equally as important as developing policies and practices that protect our students," writes Donna Orem, NAIS President. Orem recommends that schools assess their risk culture using the IRM risk culture diagnostic and develop a risk culture that works seamlessly with their mission and vision.

#2: Co-Curriculum & Learning Environments

Let's teach our teens how to show a little kindness

Ioanna Roumeliotis is a journalist and the mother of a son who is on the autism spectrum. In this Globe and Mail article, she writes about her son's experiences in school and the kindness campaign that she pitched, along with two other mothers, to administrators at her son's school in an attempt to create a shift in school culture.

Students who are bullied use more pain medication, raising concerns of future drug use

A new study from Iceland found that the use of pain medications was nearly twice as high among bullied students. According to this article in The Inquirer, "The study authors suggest this could be a result of bullied students experiencing greater mental distress, and experimenting with pain-relief medications to lessen it. Previous research has shown that depression or anxiety in children can manifest in physical symptoms, such as headaches, backaches, and stomach pain. Across all ages, mental illness is linked to substance use disorders."

#3: Academic Program

Are Educators Neglecting the Needs of High-Flying Students?

In this LinkedIn post, Eva Moskowitz, CEO and Founder of Success Academy Charter Schools, makes the case that schools are systematically neglecting the "high-flyers": students who always excel, significantly outperforming their classmates. These students are at the greatest risk for extreme boredom, which can lead to disruptive behavior and complete disengagement from school. Moskowitz is focussed on ensuring that Success Academy schools meet the needs of all learners in several ways including pitching the curriculum and instruction to the top quartile of the class, using an "Exceeds Expectations" score to challenge students and as an accountability metric for school leaders, offering special programs, and skipping accelerated learners ahead.

How to teach empathy & sustainability through global connections

In this eSchool News article, Kathi Kersznowski, a technology integration specialist and education leader, writes about the importance of connecting students globally and lists her three favourite technology tools for making these connections possible: Empatico, Skype in the Classroom and Flipgrid (GridPals).

#4: School Leadership

Empathy Helps You Become a Better Leader. Here's 3 Easy Ways To Better Connect With Your Staff

The benefits of leading with empathy include more loyal, engaged staff, elevated productivity and better teamwork, writes Tanya Prive, a Partner with Legacy Transformational Consulting, in this Inc. article. Prive spoke with Mike Teng, CEO, and co-founder of Swing Education who offers some pointers for leaders looking to improve their empathy skills: get out of your own head and listen, build a strong connection with the members on your team and focus on small gestures.

Also worth a read: Leadership Books to Read This Summer

#5: Human Resources

9 Ways to Create a Mental Health-Friendly Workplace

This Glassdoor blog post is written by Heather Baker, founder and CEO of TopLine Comms and TopLine Film. After struggling with postnatal depression and finding out that many of her team members could empathize because they had also faced mental health issues, she brainstormed with her team and came up with these nine suggestions to make their workplace mental-health friendly:
  • Encourage (but don't force) openness about mental illness
  • Welcome pets to work
  • Provide opportunities for play
  • Offer proven stress-relief techniques
  • Keep socials healthy
  • Create a mental health toolkit
  • Train mental health first aiders
  • Provide counseling support.
  • Subsidize healthy activities

Relevant PD gives teachers sense of ownership

This Education Dive article stresses that relevant, teacher-driven professional learning, such as edcamps, micro-credentials and best practice groups translates into a better application for students.

#6: School & Community

2 Truths and a Lie About Annual Reports

In this Bloomerang blog post, Laura Ingalls, CEO of Abeja Solutions, writes that an annual report should support a larger strategy, and it should not be about your organization but instead should provide the opportunity to show your donors several key things that they have accomplished.

The Importance of Tracking Alumni Accomplishments

Highlighting strong alumni stories is one of the best ways to show prospective families the value that your school provides. To keep in touch with your alumni, ISM recommends that schools set up an alumni network and create an alumni association. The article also suggests including the following questions in a survey of the most recent group of graduates:

  • In what areas were they well prepared?
  • Where could they have been better prepared?
  • What classes are they taking now?
  • In what co-curricular activities do they participate?
  • What leadership positions do they hold?

#7: Enrolment Management

Waitlist Versus Wait Pool-Which Term Makes Sense for Your School?

To help schools build a balanced, diverse group of mission-appropriate students, ISM recommends that schools convert their "waitlist" to a "wait pool". Doing so makes it clear that acceptance will be based on competitive qualifications, the mission of the school, and the number of openings available rather than the number on a list.

A Look Inside One of New York City's Most Competitive Private Schools (video)

Avenues: The World School is a private school in New York City. The school's admissions process is unique per grade level and highly-selective. Sasha DeWind, Tutor Associates' CEO, discusses how students are evaluated and what the future of education looks like.

#8: Governance

10 Truths Every Board Member Should Know

Joan Garry is a non-profit consultant with a practice focusing on crisis management, executive coaching, and building strong board and staff leadership teams. In this blog post, Garry elaborates on the following list of things she thinks every new Board Member should know and understand.

  1. Board service is a job.
  2. Your voice is as valuable at your first meeting as it is at your last.
  3. You deserve a very good orientation.
  4. The board is NOT an appendage to the organization.
  5. You do NOT need to know rich people to be successful.
  6. Your passion for the organization must be greater than your fear of asking.
  7. If you miss two board meetings in a row, call your board chair.
  8. You have power over staff - use it wisely and never abuse it.
  9. You need to give a gift that is one of the top 3 charitable gifts you make.
  10. PLEASE share rewarding stories of board service to folks "on the bench".

#9: Finance

Projections: Knowing the Neighbors

Due to the costs involved, Business Officers often oversee campus improvements. While facilities updates and new builds are great for the school community and ultimately improve neighbourhoods, they can lead to major concerns from neighbours during the construction phase. Jeff Shields, NBOA President and CEO provides suggestions for communicating with neighbours and defusing community tensions.

#10: Physical Plant, Health & Safety

In the Bronx, an Elite Chef Is Trying to Engineer a Better School Lunch

This New York Times article is about Brigaid, a company formed by Dan Giusti, former Head Chef at a restaurant that received two Michelin stars. Brigaid's goal is to improve school meals "by putting professional chefs in the cafeterias and replacing processed foods with wholesome cooking." Finding qualified chefs, staff training, and changing children's tastes and habits have been challenging; however, Giusti said he expects Brigaid to break even by the end of the year.

Also worth a read: Zero-emission buses: What districts need to know

#11: Commitment to School Improvement

Making After-School Programming Meaningful

Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia is continually upgrading its after-school programming. In this Net Assets post, Betsy Neiva, Director of Auxiliary Programming and Page Fahrig-Pendse, Associate Head of School provide several tips to ensure that after-school programming is meaningful and worthwhile a few of which are to assemble a mission-driven team, have students drive programming, offer and track choices and build bridges to school-day programs.

#12: Boarding Program

A Boarding School Musical (video)

The students at Deerfield Academy were ecstatic when they arrived for what they thought was a regular school meeting, and instead, 25 faculty members surprised them with this one-act musical about being an adolescent in a boarding school.

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