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National Leaders Conference

The 2019 National Leaders Post Conference Call for Workshop Proposals are open until December 7. Apply here.

Strengthen Your School Leadership

CAIS values the constant and deliberate quest for excellence, and we recognize the vital leadership role that governors play, in partnership with Heads, in the success of our schools. We want all of our schools to have strong Heads who focus on supporting the students of the present, but we also want strong Boards that focus on supporting the students of the future.

The Governance Guide include new learning on a number of areas, including Human Resources, Risk Management, Head Transitions, and Consent Agendas.

CAIS members and non-members can purchase a hard copy here. And CAIS members can also view the full PDF in CAIS Connect here.


CAIS Top 12 - Archived

#1: Vision, Mission, Values & Strategy


Why Schools Need to Help Students Find Purpose - and How to Do It

"It's time for a paradigm shift from what students want to do to asking them why instead," writes Tim Klein, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Project Wayfinder and the former Director of School and Community Engagement at Medford High School in Massachusetts in this Education Dive article. Klein cautions that when educators dismiss students' 'unrealistic' aspirations, they miss out on information that may help them cultivate purposeful lives.

Children need digital mentorship, not WHO's restrictions on screen time

In this Brookings article, Jordan Shapiro, a nonresident fellow in the Center for Universal Education, addresses the new set of guidelines by the World Health Organization (WHO) on "Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour and Sleep for Children Under 5 Years of Age." Stressing that the evidence linking screen time to negative outcomes is very weak, Shapiro encourages adults to provide mentorship and guidance to integrate technology into the childhood experience in developmentally beneficial ways.


#2: Co-Curriculum & Learning Environments


Why streaming kids according to ability is a terrible idea

Oscar Hedstrom is an English and philosophy teacher at Albert Park Secondary College in Melbourne. In this Aeon piece, he writes that there is limited empirical evidence to suggest that streaming results in better outcomes for students. He advocates instead for the mixed-ability classroom, which provides authentic opportunities for peer-to-peer teaching and learning.

Girls Best Boys on National Test of Technology and Engineering Skills

This article is from the United States, where girls in grade 8 continued to outperform boys on the Technology and Engineering Literacy Assessment, which was given to 15,400 eighth graders from about 600 public and private schools across the country in 2018. Despite reporting they take fewer classes related to those skills, girls scored five points higher than boys and also bested boys in nearly all content areas.

High school holds 'adulting' classes

More than 100 grade 12 students at E.J. Lajeunesse in Windsor are learning life skills to prepare them for adulthood: car maintenance, home maintenance, financial planning, cooking for one and mindfulness.


#3: Academic Program


Why Normalizing Struggle Can Create a Better Math Experience for Kids

Dan Finkel is a math educator and the founder of Math for Love. This Mind Shift article looks at his TEDx Talk "Five ways to share math with kids," in which he says "we are squandering our chance to touch life after life with the beauty and power of mathematical thinking." The five principles that Finkel offers to invite thinking into math are:

  1. Start with a question
  2. Students need time to struggle
  3. You are not the answer key
  4. Say yes to your students' ideas
  5. Math is NOT about following rules

A controversial design strategy is helping sixth graders do better in school

While there is much debate in the design community about the value of design thinking, a study by researchers at Stanford's Graduate School of Education found that when middle-school students use design-thinking strategies, they perform better.

Why the High-Achievers Have Moved to 'Shop' Class

This Education Week article looks at a new analysis that shows that different kinds of students are taking career-technical education. According to the article, "These students are focusing on professions like engineering and health care instead of traditional trades like manufacturing and agriculture. They have higher grades and test scores, and more positive attitudes toward school. They come from better-educated families and are more likely to attend four-year colleges than their peers in old-school career-tech education or what was once known as "vocational education."


#4: School Leadership


The Courage to Choose, The Courage to Lead

In this blog post, Thomas P. Olverson looks at how a Head transformed his school and elaborates on these takeaways for schools facing enrolment challenges:
  • Determine if your enrollment problem is simply a flaw in execution that can easily be corrected or a burning platform that demands hard choices.
  • If the school has an ambiguous identity, confront the problem head-on.
  • Make the board choose.
  • Know that to bring about real change takes courage.
  • Look for early wins and celebrate them in order to give stakeholders some confidence that the school is headed in the right direction.


#5: Human Resources


Boeing and the Importance of Encouraging Employees to Speak Up

Amy C. Edmondson is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School and the author of The Fearless Organization. In the aftermath of the two fatal accidents of Boeing 737 Max jets, Edmondson writes for Harvard Business Review about the importance of organizational culture "vehemently and continuously" supporting psychological safety: "the assurance that one can speak up, offer ideas, point out problems, or deliver bad news without fear of retribution." She offers some successful practices:
  • Explicitly setting times, places, and structures for team members to speak their minds.
  • Making these happen frequently, so the "ouch" is diluted and people become accustomed to lively back-and-forth.
  • Setting rules of engagement, with broad input, and writing them down as a set of norms that becomes part of everyone's lexicon.

Also worth a read: Workplace wellness programs return few benefits, study suggests


#6: School & Community


A 140-Year-Old School Partnered With a 10-Year-Old School. Here's What Happened.

This EdSurge article looks at the unique partnership between Kelvinside Academy, a 140-year-old independent school in Scotland, and NuVu, a full-time innovation school for middle and high school students based in Cambridge, Mass. There is no formal curriculum at NuVu, instead, students are challenged to solve complex problems that impact real audiences. The learning model is based on an architecture design studio, and the article describes what this looks like in practice.

Meet these northern Ontario kindness ninjas

All of the students in the kindergarten class at Larchwood Public School wear red headbands to show that they are 'kindness ninjas,' who have each done 200 acts of kindness. Their teacher Natalie Miller told CBC News that the students take the kindness pledge every day, and they are currently fundraising for toys for children at the local hospital and food for the animals at the SPCA.


#7: Enrolment Management


How to Build a Buddy Family Program at your School

Since new schools and new environments can be overwhelming for both students and parents, the author of this Bright Minds Marketing blog post encourages schools to develop a "Buddy Family" program. Some benefits that these programs can provide include easing tension, offering answers based on lived experience, showing how things really work, reducing work for school staff and giving existing families the opportunity to give back.

What History Can Teach Us About Choosing A College

Brennan Barnard is the Director of College Counseling and Outreach at The Derryfield School. Writing for Forbes, he addresses the myth about college that there is one perfect school waiting to be found and instead encourages students to appreciate the possibilities that lie ahead. Barnard quotes the 2018 white paper by Challenge Success entitled, "A 'Fit' Over Rankings": "In our reading of the research on student outcomes-learning, financial, and otherwise-this theme arises: the students who benefit the most from college are those who are most engaged in their academics and campus communities, taking advantage of the opportunities and resources their particular institution provides. Engagement is the key."

Also worth a read: "A 'Fit' Over Rankings"


#8: Governance


The Debate About Directors With Too Many Board Commitments

Michael Peregrine is a partner in the international law firm McDermott Will & Emery. In this Forbes article, he writes about the issue of director "overboarding" and the growing discussion about the impact of external commitments and distractions on director and CEO effectiveness.

The Board and the Transition to a New Head of School

In this blog post, Robert P. Henderson, Jr. offers reminders for Boards to keep in mind about how to handle the transition to a new Head.


#9: Finance


Fortify your school against financial risk

District Administration suggests several best practices for school districts to avoid financial fraud and waste, a few of which are:

  • Set specific rules for anyone handling funds or with access to financial records or accounts.
  • Create a culture of continuous improvement and annually analyze spending in one major area in an effort to reduce waste.
  • Institute a community advisory council to oversee and recommend efficient use of resources.


#10: Physical Plant, Health & Safety


Implementing mental health first aid in K-12

About 400 educators in Fauquier County, Virginia wear purple lanyards to show they've completed a mental health first-aid course that teaches adults how to spot and respond quickly to signs of mental distress in young people. The next step for the program is for educators to teach students how to reduce the stigma around mental illness and how to spot its warning signs.

Canadian universities score big in new sustainable development rankings

The U.K.-based publication Times Higher Education (THE) recently released its inaugural University Impact Rankings, which evaluates universities' contributions to 11 of the United Nations' 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), Canada's performance was a nice surprise. Three Canadian universities landed in the top 10: McMaster University, the University of British Columbia and Université de Montréal. Patrick Deane, President of McMaster, says the data-collection process alone was invaluable, "the revelation that comes through self-study has absolutely reinforced for us a sense of where our energies have been committed, where we're succeeding and where we can improve."


#11: Commitment to School Improvement


Foss: How to create a peaceful school bus

When he was an elementary school principal, Jim Dillon realized the impact that the bus ride can have on a child's frame of mind. To ensure that the bus was a nice place to be, Dillon created the Peaceful School Bus program. The program was a success: after five years the reports of bad behavior went from 63 to fewer than 5 a year.

Fewer kids are getting detention - and experts say that's a good thing

This article looks at alternatives to detention and suggests several ways to foster positive behavior including providing an alternate space to calm down, setting clear expectations, providing a sense of community and belonging and offering more people resources.


#12: Boarding Program


Maybe Universities Shouldn't Be Putting Amazon Echos in Student Dorms

Eric Stoller writes in this Inside Higher Ed that he is "an advocate for experimentation with technologies that can enhance the student experience," but he does not agree with the universities that have installed Amazon Echos in student dorms, writing "universities have an ethically derived duty of care to the students that they serve. And, letting corporations surveil their students is a mammoth-sized breach of trust, ethics, and goes against the very ethos of higher education."

From the field: Recruiting in the Philippines

According to ICEF Monitor, there were slightly more than 5,000 Filipino students in Canada last year, an increase of 29% over the year before and enough to position Philippines as the 14th-largest sending market for Canadian institutions and schools.




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