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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 Backlash Against Screen Time at School

Rob Waters is the author of this article in The Atlantic. He writes that despite the excitement "there's little strong evidence that classroom technology, including personalized learning, is improving educational outcomes." Waters interviews Paul France who left AltSchool to teach at a traditional private school. While he still uses technology, France says he is for minimizing it, "you use technology to remove a barrier. And the question always should be: Is the tech in my classroom going to preserve or enhance human connection?"

Educating for an unknown future

Marion Brady is the author of "What's Worth Learning." In this Washington Post piece, he writes "for the young to have a fighting chance of coping with what lies ahead, schooling's emphasis needs to switch from recalling information to relating information, for the obvious reason that information becomes knowledge as new relationships (<-->) are discovered.

#2: Co-Curriculum & Learning Environments

TEACHER VOICE: Why that chatty student driving you nuts could become president of the United States

In this piece in The Hechinger Report, Carma Hobgood writes, "it's an ironic twist: The very behaviors that educators often work to suppress in the classroom may be critical to students' success in the workforce." Hobgood elaborates on three classroom management strategies to prepare students for the new economy: create simulations that allow students to step into the shoes of a leader, build interdependency and help all students identify their unique value to the group.

Also worth a read: Changing How Educators See Negative Experiences in the Classroom

#3: Academic Program

For the sake of kids, embrace math

Andy Hargreaves, Research Professor in Education, Boston College and Pasi Sahlberg, Professor of Education Policy, UNSW co-authored this article in The Conversation. They write "We need to make math as much a priority now as literacy has been. We need to get teachers in primary or elementary schools just as comfortable as well as competent with math and how to teach it successfully to all children as they are with reading in their lives as well as in their classes." Some of their suggestions include addressing how confident and comfortable elementary teachers feel about math, thinking about how to attract more people with math and science backgrounds into elementary teaching and providing coaching to teachers.

3 Tips for Using Conversations for Assessment

Andrew Miller is the Instructional Coach at Shanghai American School. Writing for Edutopia, Miller says that an interview or informal chat is often a better option than a test for assessing students: "Instead of always thinking that an assessment must be a big deal, we can use conversations to assess students in low-stress, low-stakes ways. We can choose to make such conversations formal or informal, but we should come to them prepared to ask students questions to gauge their level of understanding."

#4: School Leadership

Three Leadership Missteps to Avoid

This ISM article acknowledges that there is no single way to lead well but cautions that there are a few leadership missteps for academic leaders to avoid: not communicating the school's vision, not acting as a coach to your team and not taking the time for your own professional development.

Engaging Your Focus At Work

In this LinkedIn post, Daniel Goleman writes, "employee engagement is only half the responsibility of the employer - the employee has the other half. And employees can take steps to become more motivated-for example by better aligning their work with their goals." To up your engagement Goleman recommends taking on projects that excite you but may feel slightly beyond your reach, developing questions to ask yourself daily that align with your goals, taking brief breaks throughout the day and attention training.

Also worth a read: Communicating Your Succession Plan with Customers, Clients, and Shareholders

#5: Human Resources

Building a Positive School Culture

This School Webmasters blog post stresses that building a positive school culture is worth the efforts. A school's culture exists because of its people, so it makes sense to start by surveying staff and students to find out their perception of the culture of your school. Once you have identified any areas that require improvement, the post offers ideas to support and energize positive school culture. Also, don't forget to share stories about your positive school culture with your school community.

#6: School & Community

The New Era of Year-End Giving Campaigns

Writing for npENGAGE David H. King, President & CEO of Alexander Haas, a leading nonprofit fundraising counsel, provides some strategies to keep in mind for end-of-year giving campaigns: set a clear, realistic goal for every campaign, determine and segment your target audience and plan ahead to thank existing donors and collect information on potential donors.


#7: Enrolment Management

Is poor channel selection undermining your parent outreach?

EAB recently surveyed 1,500 households about their digital media channel selection. In this blog post, they offer five lessons that emerged from the responses: make the most of channels you control, tailor your channel selection to audience segments, leverage parents' responsiveness to digital ads, understand how parent behaviors vary across social networks and keep watching out for changing preference patterns.

Worth a look: The Daily Jolt newsletter from InspirED School Marketers shared the Hackley School's financial aid page: Affording Hackley as an excellent example of explaining affordability.

#8: Governance

Mission & Motivation: Walking the Talk: Going All-In for Environmental Sustainability

Mike McGill is head of school at The Northwest School, a grades 6-12 college preparatory school in Seattle. A core piece of Northwest's mission is its commitment to environmental sustainability, and the school's last strategic plan specifically called for every effort to align the school's environmental practices with its values. He details how this commitment extends to the school's purchasing policy, dining, facilities, transportation and investment policy. Writes McGill, "Now that we have made this commitment, it feels like a no-brainer. The world is facing an existential crisis... We feel it is non-negotiable that the practice of sustainable living be a part of children's learning. Most leadership in sustainable investing thus far has been in higher education. Independent secondary schools bear the same responsibility. We believe we can reap returns while doing good."

Also worth a read: How to Tie Executive Compensation to Sustainability

#9: Finance

Improving Financial Sustainability: Schools Experiment With New Models

Donna Orem, President of NAIS, writes about her recent interviews with school Heads and Board Members about the ways they are approaching the challenge of financial sustainability, which include: leveraging assets, customizing contracts, reducing tuition price, launching a micro school and expansion.

Also worth a read: "Grow and Then Get More Efficient"

#10: Physical Plant, Health & Safety

Kids love to 'roast' each other. But when does good-natured teasing become bullying?

This article appears in the Parenting section of the Washington Post, but it is a good read for educators as well. It stresses the importance of giving kids clear messages about 'roasting', particularly online. A key difference between roasting and bullying, according to Donald A. Moses, psychiatrist and co-author of Raising Independent, Self-confident Kids" is that "when it is roasting, the victim volunteers."

#11: Commitment to School Improvement

How to Conduct Successful Exit Interviews and Attrition Surveys

Exit interviews and attrition surveys are valuable planning tools that can provide data-based strategic actions to take. This ISM article states that while exit surveys can help maintain relationships, attrition surveys are more likely to provide honest feedback. The article stresses that surveys must be well-designed, short and only ask questions that will result in usable data.

#12: Boarding Program

The new rules of digital marketing

According to this ICEF article "both agents and educators have reported a steady increase over the past three years in the number of students recruited via digital channels." The article provides ideas for how to use online strategies to inform, engage, and attract international students.

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