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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 Case For Contribution: Why Schools Should Empower Difference Making

In this Forbes article, Tom Vander Ark, CEO of Getting Smart, writes about the importance of developing civic, intellectual, moral and performance virtues in students, often referred to as character education. Vander Ark writes, "the benefits of contributing to the common good are embedded in wisdom traditions and should be central to education. Not only does it benefit the community, but it's a shortcut to building the most important skills for life."

Thanks, Mom and Dad

This New York Times article features a few excerpts from Debra Weiner's interviews with successful people about the most valuable thing their parents taught them. Still, there are some great takeaways for educators as well. R. Francis S. Collins, the Director of the National Institutes of Health who led the international Human Genome Project, spoke about experiential learning and having the opportunity "to unleash your curiosity and let the joy of learning be unbounded". Channing Dungey, Vice-President of Original Series at Netflix, talked about the importance of having her parents respect her as a person and respect her dreams, basically saying, "I see you for who you are. What you do matters."


#2: Co-Curriculum & Learning Environments


The Time I Made a Fart Sound During a Test

Admitting she is a little burned out from her teaching on teaching strategies and education research, Jennifer Gonzalez decided to write an "inappropriate" post of her blog, Cult of Pedagogy. Nevertheless, she offers some valuable lessons about teaching, and in an article that contains many impactful paragraphs, this one stands out: "One of the things that makes humans so unique, so different from other species, is our ability to experience joy. And one of the best manifestations of joy is laughter. The kind of laughter that surprises us and bonds us and melts our anxiety. Laughter that takes us away from the have-to's and must-do's and reminds us that there's a lot more to life than being productive and accomplishing things. Laughter that makes us feel, for a few minutes anyway, that we're not alone."

Developing students' global competence: An international research study

Several CAIS schools are mentioned in this international research study, which was commissioned by Round Square and led by a team of researchers from Research Schools International and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The researchers explored how schools can support students to develop global competence and found volunteering to be the most effective practice, followed by learning about different cultural perspectives, celebrating cultural diversity, discussing world events and learning how to solve conflicts.


#3: Academic Program


Florida High School Enlists 'Synthetic' Alternative for Frog Dissections

A Florida high school is the first to use synthetic frogs made of water, fibres and salts for dissections. The frogs, which do not contain any potentially harmful chemicals, feature a highly realistic and expertly detailed body with removeable, anatomically correct organs. The cost is steep at $150 per imitation frog, but they are reusable. Find out more here.

Want More Student Engagement? Ditch the Tests.

In this Getting Smart article, Steve Tippins writes that he chose to go test-free over 20 years ago because he recognized that tests often induce stress in students and are an artificial measurement of actual learning. Instead, Tippin evaluated students on their papers, projects and participation; he acknowledges that this place a burden on the teacher, but he has found the effort to be more than worth it since it allows for more open discussion with the teacher as a collaborator.


#4: School Leadership


Leaders Who Inspire Creativity Build These 3 Values into Their Team's Culture

The author of this Inc. article writes that rather than trying to come up with your team's next big idea, you should foster an environment where "employees feel empowered to think creatively." To do so, encourage risk-taking by making it clear that new ideas and opinions are valued, creating an environment of collaboration, and create a shared vision and then allow employees to pursue it autonomously.


#5: Human Resources


How School Leaders Create the Conditions for Effective Coaching

The authors of this ASCD article stress that leaders must design and implement positive conditions for coaching, including a strong instructional model, robust coaching model, quality capacity building around coaching, and technical supports for coaching. They also share an example of a Principal who has put these conditions into operation.


#6: School & Community


4 Ways to Break Through the Competition Using Appreciation Campaigns

In this blog post, marketing expert Bart Caylor writes that expressing gratitude can be a powerful way to connect with prospective students and their parents. Caylor suggests planning and implementing appreciation campaigns throughout the year, and says an effective appreciation campaign should have a memorable catchphrase, a specific group, and a face. He also details four distinct ways to show gratitude to your audience through content marketing.


#7: Enrolment Management


The Role of a Private School Chief Experience Officer

In this Inspired School Marketers podcast, Rob Norman interviews Mishel Gantz, Director of Enrollment at the Synapse School. Prior to her current role, Gantz was the Chief Experience Officer at Watershed School, a grade 6-12 forward-thinking, intentionally small, independent school. In the interview, she details the Chief Experience Officer role, in which she engaged with the entire school community -- students, parents, teachers, visitors, Board -- to develop a deliberate, relational strategy with a plan to differentiate the school's unique style and mission. Gantz believes that every school should have someone who is looking at the experience of its people and focus on taking the moments that make people feel special. She also stresses that retention starts with the very first interaction with your school.


#8: Governance


Companies Need to Rethink What Cybersecurity Leadership Is

Writing for Harvard Business Review article, Matthew Doan, a cyber digital strategist at BCG Platinion, looks at research and draws on his own experience to suggest a cybersecurity framework for business leaders. While the article is geared toward large corporations, it includes several takeaways that apply to any organization. First, set your intent with cybersecurity strategy, considering business continuity, brand protection, and compliance. The chosen strategy will cascade down to operational activities. Next, position the cybersecurity function to have influence. Doan cautions that putting cybersecurity within the IT function and budget can create problems. Lastly, it is crucial to get the right cyber leader for your needs, and Boards and leaders should prioritize mindset over technical skills.


#9: Finance


Landmarks in a Disrupted Landscape

In this Net Assets article, Jennifer Osland Hillen, NBOA's Vice President, Professional Development and Business Affairs, writes that new tuition models are a repackaging of tuition and financial aid. To ensure financial sustainability, schools need to consider all sides of revenue and expenses and possibly rightsizing. As well, she stresses the importance of having a strong "value proposition" and "differentiation."


#10: Physical Plant, Health & Safety


In wake of racism and abuse allegations, is hockey at its tipping point?

Recently, many current and former NHL players, including Toronto Maple Leafs player Mitch Marner, have begun speaking out against hockey's toxic culture and those who enable it. As well many other hockey players are taking to social media to share their experiences with the sport. Stacy Lorenz, a Professor of Physical Education and History at the University of Alberta says "there seems to be more acknowledgement amongst the general public that hockey culture has significant issues that need to be dealt with." However, Lorenz recognizes there is still strong resistance from those who do not wish to acknowledge this critique of hockey.


#11: Commitment to School Improvement


Guidelines to Follow This Holiday Season

This ISM article is from last year, but it is worth another look as the holiday season begins because it offers many good tips and things to consider to make sure that holiday celebrations do not isolate anyone:
  • Encourage diversity.
  • Discuss holiday plans with your faculty and staff.
  • Implement gift-giving policies.
  • Plan appropriately for holiday parties.
  • Be mindful of alcohol safety.
  • Consider personal decorations.


#12: Boarding Program


Slowing in Chinese commencements for most major study destinations

A new report from consultancy Education Rethink examines student visa data (or their closest equivalent) for the four countries to provide insights regarding the extent of the slowdown - especially relative to growth trends from other source markets. The key takeaways are:
  • A new report finds that growth in Chinese commencements are either flat or falling in the US, Canada, and Australia.
  • The number of new students is increasing in the UK where Chinese students make up a worryingly high proportion of overall international enrolments.
  • Canada's and Australia's diversification efforts are paying off, as these countries expand their international populations even as Chinese growth slows.




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