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

4 Ways to Pressure-Test Strategic Decisions, Inspired by the U.S. Military

This Harvard Business Review article stresses the importance of finding weaknesses in your strategies before you implement them. The article elaborates on the following four techniques that the U.S. Military has honed to help anticipate problems and change course when necessary:

  1. Build situational awareness
  2. Develop an outside-in perspective
  3. Game it out
  4. Form diverse, strategic groups

Immersed in the Present With an Eye on the Future

"Too often, we get caught up thinking about the future that we lose focus on how fantastic and essential our present is currently," writes George Couros. In this brief blog post, he encourages school leaders to think about what they are working on now and doing it well rather than always thinking about what's next.

#2: Co-Curriculum & Learning Environments

7 ways parents can teach girls to build one another up, instead of tearing one another down

Writing for the Parenting section of the Washington Post, Phyllis L. Fagell, who is the counselor at Sheridan School and a therapist, identifies seven ways to raise empowered girls who support and encourage each other. A few of which are: urge them to use social media for good, normalize giving and seeking help, identify fierce but kind female characters and encourage them to join a team.

10 Ways Teachers Can Foster Kindness and a Spirit of Giving Back During the Holiday Season

This We Are Teachers article offers "10 easy ideas, from simple, everyday practices to meaningful outreach projects, that will foster kindness and a spirit of giving in your students" this holiday season.

Also worth a read: The Most Difficult Issue in Independent School Sport

#3: Academic Program

The Secret to Student Success? Teach Them How to Learn.

This EdSurge article is written by veteran teacher Patrice Bain, who believes that her first commitment is to teach her students how to learn, and her second commitment is to her course content. She details how she changed her teaching methods to incorporate research-based principles of learning science -- specifically metacognition and retrieval -- which, in turn, drastically impacted her students' retention of material. Writes Bain, "the research I've been involved with has shown that the relationship between a student's understanding of their own learning, compared with their actual learning, has significant long-term impact on study habits, motivation and overall learning."

A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley

According to this New York Times article, many technologists do not want their children having any screen time: "A wariness that has been slowly brewing is turning into a regionwide consensus: The benefits of screens as a learning tool are overblown, and the risks for addiction and stunting development seem high."

Also worth a read: How 'Makers' Make the Classroom More Inclusive

#4: School Leadership

5 Tips On How To Manage Former Peers

It can be challenging to transition to a manager position, especially when you are friendly with your fellow employees. This Forbes article elaborates on these five general guidelines to help: be sensitive to the situation, establish credibility, fairness is essential, listen to what your team has to say and respect -- not friendship -- is the endgame.

Also worth a read: Bosses: This is how to inspire your employees to become leaders

10 Social Media Dos and Don'ts for Principals

In schools, social media can be the frequent cause of disciplinary issues and hallway drama, but as a school leader, you can use it to your advantage. This School Leaders Now article details social media 10 Dos and Don'ts for Principals, a few of which are: don't follow just anyone, don't post and run, and don't use a platform that you can't sustain.

#5: Human Resources

Hiring Practices: Understanding What Millennials and Gen Z Want

In this NAIS blog post, Greg Martin, upper school dean at Perkiomen School, writes that if schools are to deliver the best education for their students, one in line with their missions, hiring practices must be viewed as institutionally important. Martin details the key mindsets of millennials and concludes that "Heads of school who are willing to engage younger workers while continuing to meet the demands and missions of individual schools will drive most of the change. They must be flexible and innovative in staffing practices to maximize the skills and talents of younger generations in a way that does not stress an organization or alienate older workers."

Also worth a read: Find Your Tribe: A Peer Observation Story

#6: School & Community

How to Engage and Connect with Busy Parents

The author of this blog post writes about the power of imagery in school marketing to reinforce your school's message, mission, and values. The author recommends sharing images that inspire you. The post includes a list of ways to use imagery to benefit your school marketing plan, a couple of which are: welcome students and other guests to your school with relevant images on the walls of your front office and make a video rather than an email to introduce a specific school program to your targeted audience.

Master the Art of the Quick Campaign

Rebecca Schultzberg is the Senior Major Gifts Officer at Dexter Southfield School. In this blog post, she elaborates on these three tips for managing quick campaigns: eliminate the large committee, skip that big event and use what's at hand.

#7: Enrolment Management

Why Blockchain is Likely to Change the Future of School Admissions

In this blog post, David Willows writes about the potential uses for blockchain in the admissions office. Blockchain is particularly good at "authenticating data, keeping records, and making records available when and where they are needed."As a result, Willows believes it might make managing the transfer of information, verifying the authenticity of documents, and looking out for instances of non-disclosure much simpler. While the concept is hard to grasp right now, he cautions, "if we travelled back to the 1990s and spoke to our former colleagues, we'd likely have warned them what was coming down the line with the advent of the Internet."

#8: Governance

Disconnects Between Mission and Operations: Beyond Maryland Football

This Inside Higher Ed post, written by John Warner, is about higher education; however, its main point applies to all schools: a school's operations should always reflect its mission. Warner writes, "following the death of a player following a collapse from heatstroke at practice and news of 'rampant cruelty and mismanagement in the program,' the University System of Maryland Board of Regents decided to retain its athletics director and coach while essentially firing the university president who wanted them both removed." Clearly, the Board's decision prioritized football, but Warner cautions, "I wish that football was the only area in which we see this disconnect between the values of higher education and the institutional mission versus the actual operations. Everywhere I look these days I see little connection between the values we claim versus what we're actually doing."

A Good Nonprofit Decision Badly Made is No Good at All

This Nonprofit Quarterly article is about the backlash that The Old Town School of Folk Music is facing after deciding to sell a landmark building in order to help create an endowment fund. While the fund is badly needed, and the Board's decision appears to be a rational one, its decision not to engage any other stakeholders underscores "the difficult questions organizational leaders face as they plan: When and how should an organizational board share its thinking about organizational change and engage their stakeholders? How is it best to balance the efficient decision-making a closed-door process can offer against the messier and more political nature of a wider process?"

#9: Finance

See Which Private Colleges Have Lowered Tuition Prices

This article looks at two business strategies that are being used by colleges in the United States: tuition discounting and a tuition reset. Tuition discounting is when a college offsets their sticker price with financial aid; a tuition reset is when a college cuts its sticker price. Since sticker prices can be misleading, the article advises students to look at the net tuition.

#10: Physical Plant, Health & Safety

BIG and WeWork complete first WeGrow elementary school in NYC

This article in Architect News features many photos of the new WeGrow private elementary school, located in WeWork's New York City headquarters. The 10,000 square-foot school "comprises of four classrooms, flexible workshops, community space, a multi-purpose studio, art studio, music room, and other nature-themed playscapes that encourage interactive learning, creativity, and collaboration. Carefully designed furniture, ambient lighting, and other details help create an optimal learning space."

Everyone's New Job Description

Managing crises is increasingly a skill that most administrators and faculty members must learn, writes Terri G. Givens in this Inside Higher Ed article.

#11: Commitment to School Improvement

Quality and effort

In this blog post, Seth Godin writes about the importance of putting care into our systems, "We need to build checklists and peer review and resilience into the way we express our carefulness."Instead of nagging kids to be 'more careful' when an error occurs, Godin believes we should teach them to respond by building a better system.

#12: Boarding Program

Diversification and the next five markets

This ICEF Monitor article identifies and elaborates on five promising markets for diversifying student recruitment: Bangladesh, Nepal, Ghana, Kuwait, and Egypt.

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