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

Defining Learning Innovation

"The concept of innovation has lost most of its meaning through overuse," writes Dr. Joshua Kim, the Director of Digital Learning Initiatives at the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL) and a CNDLS Senior Fellow for Academic Transformation, Learning, and Design at Georgetown University. Kim says "getting resources for pilot projects is usually much easier than transitioning the new practices to the normal operations of the school. Learning innovations that do not change how the institution works are ultimately useless. Learning innovation initiatives must be aligned with the strategic goals of the institution." The article is written for higher education, but many of the questions that Kim recommends schools pursuing learning innovation ask are also relevant for independent schools.

#2: Co-Curriculum & Learning Environments

The 3 Ms of Emotional Regulation

Barbara Gruener is the author of the book What's Under Your Cape? In this blog post, she details how teachers can help children to know, understand and embrace their feelings and then regulate them using the three Ms: monitor, move through (she provides an extensive list of suggestions for this), and manage.

Also worth a read: Teacher: We must teach emotional literacy to boys. Here's what happened when I tried.

#3: Academic Program

What Giving Students Choice Looks Like in the Classroom

Excerpted from Just Ask Us: Kids Speak Out on Student Engagement by Heather Wolpert-Gawron this Mind Shift piece elaborates on these options for teachers who are looking to incorporate more choice in their classroom: people to work with, resources to use, driving questions, ways to use their knowledge, which rubric to be scored on and what they need to work on in regard to learning goals.

Also worth a read: 10 Ways Educators Can Make Classrooms More Innovative

Using Technology to Humanize

In this blog post, George Couros responds to the pushback on the idea of personalized learning, writing "technology can actually be used to build face-to-face relationships, not limit them." Couros recommends asking these questions about how we use technology: Is the way we are using technology building connections or severing them?
Is this fostering deep learning as well as critical thought and creation, or promoting surface level thinking?
Are we modeling our learning, balance, and human connection through our use of technology so we can effectively guide our students?

#4: School Leadership

A New Way to Become More Open-Minded

Shane Snow is the author of Dream Teams: Working Together Without Falling Apart. In this Harvard Business Review article, he writes about the concept of intellectual humility: the openness to changing your mind about things. Intellectual humility has four components:

  1. Having respect for other viewpoints
  2. Not being intellectually overconfident
  3. Separating one's ego from one's intellect
  4. Willingness to revise one's own viewpoint
These components can be assessed, and an intellectually humble person will score high on all of these; however, to be open-minded you must also be curious enough to listen to other viewpoints. Snow also points out that certain activities such as travelling generally correlate with higher intellectual humility.

Also worth a read: Making Those Dreaded, Stressful, Parent Phone Calls

#5: Human Resources

Run your meetings edcamp style: The un-faculty faculty meeting

Interested in running an edcamp at your school? This eSchool News article details the following steps that your school can follow:

  1. Designate an organizer.
  2. Create a topic list.
  3. Develop a registration process.
  4. Schedule your room locations.
  5. Emphasize to faculty that this is an opportunity to pique their interest.
  6. Consider this as a continuum.

#6: School & Community

Designing a School Website that Listens and Learns

In this blog post, David Willows writes about the design process for the International School of Brussels' new website, which launched this week. During the design process the school focussed on three questions:

  1. How do we listen more, rather than overwhelm families with information?
  2. How do we create a site that literally learns and adapts over time?
  3. How do we create different pathways to knowledge, respecting the fact that different people learn in different ways?

The site features a powerful search tool that allows the site to 'listen and learn', a grid that allows families to think about what's important to them when choosing a school and short stories. You can check it out here.

#7: Enrolment Management

Rethinking Outreach to Boost Enrollment

"With creeping tuition and lower demand especially in early childhood programs, schools need to reinvent practices that used to be state-of-the-art, such as the typical open house that was primarily a sales pitch," writes Kathleen Visconti, director of enrollment management at The Elisabeth Morrow School, in this NAIS blog post. Some ideas Visconti elaborates on include a weekend event that highlights character and service, music, and STEAM; child-friendly open houses; hosting off-site information nights; and, inviting prospective parents to on-campus parent association or development events.

Also worth a read: Some Schools Allow Children to Register With a Gender Option Besides Girl or Boy

#8: Governance

The Consequences of Operating Without a Strategic Financial Plan

This ISM article details the difficulties that the Board can expect to encounter when it operates without a strategic financial plan to support the strategic plan. The article stresses that every Board Member must stay current on the uses and implications of the strategic financial plan.

Also worth a read: The Key Responsibilities of the Search Committee

#9: Finance

Bringing in Babies

Samantha Campbell is Head of School and Katie Sibson is Director of Enrollment Management at Saint Paul's-Clearwater's Independent School. In this Net Assets article, they write about their school's decision to transform 3,000 square feet of underutilized academic space into a daycare. Doing so helped to stabilize the school's finances, says Campbell and Sibson "encourage any school looking for creative ways to increase enrollment to examine their latest demographic studies and investigate the waiting lists and weekly rates at local day-care facilities."

#10: Physical Plant, Health & Safety

The Price of Cool: A Teenager, a Juul and Nicotine Addiction

This New York Times article tells the story of Matt Murphy, who at 17 years old "began a toxic relationship with an e-cigarette that would, over the next two years, develop into a painful nicotine addiction that drained his savings, left him feeling winded when he played hockey and tennis, put him at snappish odds with friends who always wanted to mooch off his Juul and culminated in a shouting, tearful confrontation with his parents." The article makes it clear that Juul is very addictive and also that "because it is so new, there is no consensus protocol for how teenagers should withdraw."

Also worth a read: The world's best building? A remote Brazilian school made out of wood

#11: Commitment to School Improvement

Helping Families Ask Questions Could Be Your Most Powerful Engagement Tool

Deidre Brotherson is an elementary school teacher who began using the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) with parents, after initially using it with her students. According to this Mind Shift article, "QFT is an exercise to practice asking, categorizing and reflecting on questions." She believes that the process helps parents get more out of their interactions with the school.

#12: Boarding Program

Worried about isolation, colleges now emphasize gathering spaces in new residence halls

According to this article "colleges are re-imagining residence halls with more natural light and spaces conducive to studying, making meaningful connections, working on projects - and increasing the odds of having happy, successful students who will return next year." The article gives several examples.

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