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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

What's Most Valuable? Creativity, Empathy, or Technology

David Geurin is the principal and lead learner at Bolivar High School. In this blog post, he asks what is most valuable: creativity, empathy or technology? While he acknowledges that technology will drive change, Geurin believes that creativity and empathy will be most valuable. He writes, "creativity and empathy are not considered the core work in most schools. They are extras, add-ons, and enrichment programs. But I think we have it flipped. Start with creativity and empathy and use those to propel learning of content and academic skills."

In Real Game of Life, Attending Wealthy High School Trumps All

This article in Inside Higher Ed looks at a new study, which shows that the socioeconomic status of high school has more impact on educational attainment and life success than does attending a high school with high levels of student achievement.

#2: Co-Curriculum & Learning Environments

Why we shouldn't be separating boys and girls for sex ed

Bonnie J. Rough is the author of Beyond Birds and Bees: Bringing Home a New Message to Our Kids about Sex, Love, and Equality. In this Washington Post article she advocates for mixed-gender sex ed instruction: "By teaching students of all genders alongside one another about healthy sexuality and relationships, including consent, we hand them a set of social expectations to hold in common. The more students are aware of what their peers have been taught about how to treat others, the more they can hold one another accountable." Rough also cites research that states that students actually prefer mixed-gender instruction and cautions that lessons labeled for "boys" or "girls" can exclude transgender and non-binary kids.

To Prevent Loneliness, Start in the Classroom

According to this article in The Atlantic, young people are among the loneliest of all Americans. Schools that teach kids how to deal with feelings of isolation could help put a dent in the epidemic.

#3: Academic Program

Educators must commit now to tackle grade inflation

In the wake of the news this fall that the University of Waterloo assesses new engineering applicants partially on the basis of which high school they attended and not solely on their grades, Louis Volante, Professor of Education, Brock University and Christopher DeLuca, Associate Professor in Classroom Assessment and Acting Associate Dean, Graduate Studies & Research, Faculty of Education, Queen's University authored this article, which appears in The Conversation. Volante and DeLuca write, "The grade inflation problem requires a long-term educational change initiative," and that "the key is to ensure teachers have the skills and knowledge to ensure their evaluations are reliable and fair for their students - in relation to provincial curriculum expectations."

10 Amazing Hackathon Ideas

A hackathon is an event where people come together to 'hack' an idea, and they are a fun way to encourage creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. This article from The Tech Edvocate provides a list of 10 possible hackathon topics to get your students thinking, including education, cyberbullying, city planning and environmental issues. The article also includes links to sites that provide resources to help you plan and prepare for a hackathon.


#4: School Leadership

How to Gracefully Exclude Coworkers from Meetings, Emails, and Projects

The authors of this Harvard Business Review article on collaboration argue that sometimes people need to be excluded: "thoughtfully leaving people out could become one of the greatest managerial moves a leader makes." They elaborate on these three steps for excluding people gracefully: focus on key employees to protect them from overload, address people's natural social needs and set clear expectations.

How to Create and Maintain a Joyful School Climate

Mike Kaechele is a Project Based Learning Teacher Consultant and National Faculty for Buck Institute for Education. In this School Leaders Now article he writes "one of the greatest things a school leader can do for their school climate is intentionally bring joy." In this post, he shares seven ways to maintain a joyful school climate throughout the year:
  1. Get out of your office.
  2. Feed your people!
  3. Use postcards to send joy to staff and students.
  4. Make school fun!
  5. Plan service-learning opportunities.
  6. Listen to your staff and students.
  7. Share what your school is doing with the community.

#5: Human Resources

How to Avoid Curricular Chaos

Writing for School Leaders Now, Trevor Muir defines curricular chaos as "when well-intentioned teachers teach a different aspect or portion of the standards, or even a different standard altogether, making any type of goal almost impossible to define." To end this chaos, Muir recommends that schools view the entire staff as a professional learning community and he details these ways to do so:

  • Allocate time for teachers to collaborate.
  • Make sure everyone teaches the same essential skills and knowledge.
  • Make learning targets clear so teachers are free to teach.
  • Use common assessments.
  • Acknowledge the challenges in collaboration.
A fun read: Why People Who Marry Teachers End Up The Happiest. Thank you to Michael Wolfe, Head of Stanstead College for sending this along to us!

#6: School & Community

Is Your Magazine Worth the Cost of Printing?

According to this Cheney & Company blog post, "over 50% of school magazines should go straight to the wastebasket." The post identifies the characteristics that successful magazines share, signs that a magazine is struggling and offers advice for schools that are reviewing the ROI of their magazine for the first time.

As email use declines, universities try new digital tactics to reach alumni

This article looks at how several colleges and universities are using a variety of digital strategies to engage their alumni. One interesting example is Wayne State University: in preparation for its sesquicentennial celebration, the school asked alumni to post remembrances to a microsite and then cataloged each item as part of a digital time capsule.

#7: Enrolment Management

Recommendation Letters and Bias in Admissions

Writing for Inside Higher Ed, Scott Jaschik asks: "If teachers and counselors favor some groups over others, should colleges be relying on their letters?" The article quotes Jon Boeckenstedt, associate vice president for enrollment management and marketing at DePaul University, who believes that colleges should cut back on their reliance on letters: "the letter has virtually nothing to do with the student's performance, and a lot to do with the teacher's ability to turn a phrase, note interesting character traits, structure a cogent series of paragraphs ... In short, it's as much about the teacher as the student ... It can also be about how much time a teacher has to complete the task, and the extent to which she sees it as a function of her duties."

#8: Governance

Creating More Responsive Boards

Peter Eckel is senior fellow and director of leadership programs at Penn AHEAD in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania and a trustee at the University of La Verne. Cathy Trower is president of Trower & Trower Inc., a governance consulting firm. Writing for Inside Higher Ed, Eckel and Trower stress that Boards must be intentional about the work of committees and examine two common problems that exist when it comes to committees: overlaps or gaps in issues addressed, and work overload or underload. The article provides ways to determine the extent to which committees are appropriate and functioning well, as well as tips and topics for ad hoc working groups or task forces. While this article is written for university Boards, the key points apply to independent schools as well.

Succession and resilience in the non-profit sector

This article is about leadership succession and what it takes for an organization to survive a bump, or failed, leadership transition. A resilient organization has key elements that should help it through a challenging or failed leadership transition, including well-capacitated staff, effective programs, good stakeholder relations, financial commitments from donors and a significant reserve fund. Most importantly, the organization needs an effective and functioning Board.

Bold moves are required to diversify boards

Published by Carrie Duarte, PwC's Workforce of the Future & Human Resources M&A Leader, this Linked In post details six ways that Boards can leverage the power of diversity and inclusion.

#9: Finance

How to Make Sure You're Not Using Data Just to Justify Decisions You've Already Made

Writing for Harvard Business Review, Kevin Troyanos, SVP of Analytics at Saatchi + Saatchi Wellness advises, "it's not an organization's KPIs, but the key business questions (KBQs) - of which KPIs are an extension - that serve as the cornerstone of its success." Troyanos details a four-step process for generating KBQs:

  1. Define your purpose.
  2. Immerse yourself in the data.
  3. Generate key business questions.
  4. Prioritize your key business questions.

#10: Physical Plant, Health & Safety

Flexible Seating Is All the Rage in Schools, But Does It Really Work?

Joe Dombrowski is a teacher who wanted to love flexible seating. But, after trying it for an entire year, he decided that the trend is over-rated. Instead, Dombrowski encourages teachers to try flexibility in a section of the classroom and to try other ways to give students an outlet, such as chair fidgets, brain breaks and increasing recess-time release.

#11: Commitment to School Improvement

When it comes to school improvement, remember where we came from

Richard Bruford is the Head of School at Suzhou Singapore International School, one of China's leading international schools. In this blog post, he writes that school leaders "do not need to fix everything at once and there does need to be a set of priorities that not everyone will agree with." However, school leaders should communicate the school's progress; this is especially important to help newer members of the school community understand and appreciate the progress that has been made.

Leading Whole-School Improvement

James Kozlowski is the principal of Endeavour Sports High School in Caringbah, Australia, which was named Secondary School of the Year (in the government category) at the 2018 Australian Education Awards. In this Usable Knowledge article, he writes about how his school improved by setting high standards, getting everyone working toward the same goals and celebrating their achievements at every opportunity.

#12: Boarding Program

Foreign students transforming Canada's schools, immigration

According to this Globe and Mail article, "more than 500,000 international students are expected to study in Canada this year, in primary schools through to universities, more than four times as many as were here in 2000." Canada is a desirable destination for international students for many reasons including reasonable tuition levels and its reputation of being a multicultural society. As well, stricter conditions imposed by the Trump administration make the United States less attractive, and the confusion over Brexit makes studying in Britain an uncertain prospect.

Also worth a read: Chinese Companies Are Buying Up Closed Colleges

Back to Most Recent Top 12