#1: Vision, Mission, Values & Strategy
Education Has a Three-Headed Crisis. Mental Health Is Only Part of It.
In this EdSurge article, impact education funder and author Isabelle Hau cites research that shows children are "less mentally healthy, less empathetic and less creative than they were at the beginning of the decade. We have a rising imbalance between the supply of creative, collaborative, healthy young minds, and the demand for such talent." Hau believes education has a major role to play in addressing this imbalance and elaborates on these three recommendations to address these challenges:
- Build emotionally healthy learning environments.
- Teach empathy and social-emotional learning, starting early.
- Foster creativity and collaboration through play.
#2: Co-Curriculum & Learning Environments
How Unconditional Positive Regard Can Help Students Feel Cared For
In this MindShift article Alex Shevrin Venet, author of Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education
, writes about her guiding philosophy to building teacher-student relationships: unconditional positive regard. She provides examples of actively putting unconditional positive regard into practice in everyday interactions with students, such as greeting a student who is late to class with "Hey! It's great to see you today. Settle in a minute and then I'll catch you up." Venet stresses, "This doesn't mean that I won't address attendance issues later, but my priority when my students arrive isn't to scold them about compliance. My priority is to greet them in a way that says they matter and that their presence is more important than how fast they got here."
#3: Academic Program
Are You Putting Learners First? Here are 8 Ways to Check Yourself
In this Getting Smart article, Rebecca Midles, a personalized learning expert, and Laura Hilger, Director of Teaching and Learning at KnowledgeWorks, stress the importance of calling out the practices that can contribute to adult-centred and student-centred learning. They identified eight signs that educators and school leaders should look for along with guiding questions to ensure that learners are at the center of learning and, whenever possible, driving the learning.
#4: School Leadership
Health Habits: Emerging From the COVID Crush
The first part of this Inside Higher Ed article looks at a survey taken by 2,002 college students that shows how the pandemic's impact on students' lifestyle routines could negatively impact overall health. The second part of the article outlines seven actions for schools to consider to support students in developing healthier lifestyles post-COVID-19, many of which apply to independent schools:
- Create a wellness committee (or strengthen an existing one).
- Develop tiered peer supports.
- Continue popular new offerings.
- Find out what students think they need to adopt healthier habits.
- Incentivize healthy lifestyle choices.
- Incorporate an understanding of student trauma.
- Prepare for the long term.
#5: Human Resources
How to Measure Inclusion in the Workplace
This Harvard Business Review article is written by four members of Gartner's HR practice. They lament that many organizations struggle to measure the impact of their DEI strategies -- especially those related to inclusion -- and communicate that impact to their stakeholders. They stress that this is important because "Gartner research shows organizations that confidently measure DEI, create accountability, and embed inclusion into talent decisions and processes report up to 20% more organizational inclusion compared to their peers without those approaches." In the article, they share new Gartner research that outlines how to capture employee perceptions of inclusion, what meaningful action looks like from leaders, and potential pitfalls to avoid in the process.
#6: School & Community
Keep it Real
In this Knuckleball Consulting blog post, Mike Vachow considers how to proceed with typical independent school, adult-focused events and activities post-pandemic. To ensure community building, Vachow writes that schools should return to holding events such as Parent Open House (Curriculum Night) in-person: "As convenient as it might be -- and most heads I know got happy reports from some parents about the convenience of Zoom Curriculum Night -- reducing this important cultural touchpoint to Zoom squares is a huge mistake." Vachow also considers faculty meetings, admission tours, parent-teacher conferences, parent education events, coffees and Board work.
#7: Enrolment Management
Why the viral video app TikTok needs to be part of your recruitment strategy this year
This ICEF Monitor article encourages schools and universities to leverage TikTok, currently the most downloaded app in the world, for recruitment. The article includes some TikTok 2021 statistics:
- 689 million users worldwide (not including China);
- 62% of users are between the ages of 10 and 29;
- Daily average time on it is 52 minutes, similar to Instagram and Facebook, and 90% open the app multiple times a day.
ICEF acknowledges that staying on top of TikTok trends can be overwhelming for school marketing departments and recommends enlisting students to help. The app is especially useful for creatively showing off school campuses.
Are Your Company's D&I Efforts Shallow?
In this Harvard Business Review article, Janice Burns, Chief Career Experience Officer at Degreed, offers suggestions for organizations seeking to improve diversity and inclusion. Burns cautions that there is no "quick fix" to creating an inclusive culture where all employees feel they can contribute authentically. She recommends six questions to consider, the first being, "Does the business strategy clearly articulate why diversity and inclusion is vital to its execution?" Burns stresses, "Unless D&I is seen as an enabler of the wider business strategy, and is embedded in everything the business does, it will remain an afterthought."
Against the backdrop of the pandemic, summer and auxiliary program directors take on more diverse roles while looking for new ways to add value.
For this Net Assets interview, Cecily Garber spoke with Karen McCann McClelland, Director of Auxiliary Programs at Sidwell Friends School and Nat Saltonstall, Executive Director of SPARC, the Summer Programs and Auxiliary Revenue Collaborative. They discuss the diverse roles summer and auxiliary program directors have taken on to add value since the pandemic negatively impacted their primary goal of securing alternative revenue. In the future, Saltonstall says she hopes to see more auxiliary program directors add value to schools' DEI efforts since some summer programs may be more evolved along the DEI spectrum than even the larger school.
#10: Physical Plant, Health & Safety
Here's why schools are on alert over new coronavirus variants
According to CNN, school children might be particularly vulnerable to future outbreaks of COVID-19 variants. The article focuses on B.1.617.2 outbreaks in the United Kingdom and Singapore. In the UK, schools remain open, and the government no longer requires masks to be worn in schools. Singapore closed almost all schools last week, and the country's education minister Chan Chun Sing expressed concerns about the new strains affecting younger children.
Western University to require students in residence to get COVID-19 vaccine
According to CP24, Western University will require students living in residence to be vaccinated against COVID-19. According to this CP24 article, the school "is asking students to get their first shot before arriving on campus, but said in a statement that they will have 14 days after moving into residence to make an appointment." At this point, The University of British Columbia, University of Alberta and McGill University have said they don't plan on requiring proof of vaccination. You can read more at Western News
#11: Commitment to School Improvement
Should mental health be a valid reason for missing school? Many say yes.
This Washington Post article by education reporter Donna St. George looks at the decision by Montgomery County leaders to add mental health or student 'well-being' to the list of valid reasons to be absent from school. Writes St. George, "The idea to focus on attendance rules began with student board member Nick Asante, who introduced a measure last September asking a board committee to explore the possibility of excused mental health days." Officials in Montgomery County have been working on improving support for students after nearly 400 crisis center referrals were made this school year.
#12: Boarding Program
US boarding schools benefitting from the "bubble effect" for the coming school year
This ICEF Monitor looks at a recent member survey by The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), an organization that represents 85% of all boarding schools in North America. Michael Shaver, Director of International Programs for TABS, said that boarding schools in the United States are projecting a modest decline in foreign enrolment this year but a stable enrolment base for 2021/22 overall. Shaver attributes this to boarding schools' ability to create a bubble around their students with minimal movement in and out. Looking ahead to the post-COVID marketplace for K-12, much of the recruitment outlook for boarding schools will depend on Chinese students.