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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

One Important Question That Leads to Student Empowerment in Schools

In this blog post, George Couros writes that to empower students you should ask the following question when taking on anything in your school: "Could the students be doing this?" He points out that on his visits to schools the best assemblies were led by students, and that students created the best artwork and photography on display. Couros writes, "I am biased toward work that is done by students, but I would rather see the imperfect work of a student than the perfect work of a staff member. Not only does this lead to more pride and ownership of the school but it also leads to real life opportunities now that can lead to opportunities in the future".

#2: Co-Curriculum & Learning Environments

How to Help Teenagers Embrace Stress

Lisa Damour is a psychologist in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and the author of Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood. In this New York Times article, she takes on the conventional wisdom that stress does harm, insisting that it is a normal and healthy part of life. She writes, "students should be taxed by school" and, "instead of trying to vanquish academic pressure, we should turn our attention to making sure students can rebound between bouts of intense intellectual activity, just as athletes rest between hard workouts."

The Coddling of the American Mind 'Is Speeding Up'

This is a conversation between Greg Lukianoff, the co-author of a 2015 Atlantic cover story, The Coddling of the American Mind, and a new book of the same name, and Julie Beck of The Atlantic. They discuss many issues related to campus free speech in a tumultuous time, including: trigger warnings, the evolution of free-speech issues on campus, how the sorts of thinking getting promoted on campuses leads to anxiety and depression, and whether or not you should listen to someone who's highly influential in a movement that you may really dislike.

Also worth a read: Want to stop students from using their smartphones in class? Ironically, there's an app for that.

#3: Academic Program

Why Are We Still Grading?

In this Inside Higher Ed opinion piece, Dan Houck, a Ph.D. candidate at Cornell University, writes that there is no way to take a student's work in any class and put a number or a letter to it in a way that couldn't be done in another equally reasonable way. He looks at the research on grading and concludes "It's bad for everyone." Houck also considers several alternatives, including contract grading, rubrics and portfolios in the article.

Also worth a read: Four reasons it's dumb to fight with your kids about homework

#4: School Leadership

An Administrator's Guide to Parent Communication Apps

There are many excellent parent communications apps on the market that can help facilitate communication between school and home. In this article, School Leaders Now shares their research on nine of the most popular apps.

How to Tell If You're Delegating Too Much - and What to Do About It

Delegation is an effective way to let teams and individuals grow. However, Anne Sugar writes in this Harvard Business Review article that over-delegation can backfire and cautions that the biggest over-delegation risk for leaders is leaving the vision or culture of the organization to others. To ensure you're providing your team with the guidance and structure they need Sugar recommends taking these three steps:

  1. Take on a symbolic project.
  2. Reset with your team.
  3. Re-communicate the vision.

#5: Human Resources

Reframing Observation

Rachael Gabriel, associate professor of literacy education at the University of Connecticut, believes that classroom observations and the feedback they generate have great potential to support educator development; however, in her work evaluating and supporting the implementation of teacher evaluation systems she has identified the following three key challenges to observation:
  1. The dual foci of teacher evaluation cannot be addressed simultaneously.
  2. Excellent teaching is specific, but most rubrics are generic.
  3. Learning isn't always visible at the moment we look for it.
Gabriel writes, "overcoming these challenges requires intentionally reframing the purpose and possibility of the evaluation tools and processes we often take for granted," and provides suggestions on how to do so.

#6: School & Community

How to Get Board Members Involved in Fundraising

All Board Members should take part in your school's fundraising activities. This Boardable blog post suggests that you ask them to make calls to major donors and VIPs, make them media liaisons and ask them to publicize a fundraising event on social media.

Also worth a read: Four Strategies That Can Help Turn a Prospect Into a Major Donor

The 6 Things You Need to Start a School Blog

In this post, Emily Cretella, owner of Cursive Content Marketing, writes that the most common question she receives from new school clients about writing a blog is "where do I start?" Cretella elaborates on the following six things that will help your blog get off to a good start: a blog vision statement, a basic strategy, flavour, dedication, consistency, and added value.

#7: Enrolment Management

What Parents and Students Want When It Comes to Your School

ISM's research has repeatedly revealed four main characteristics that parents and students look for when it comes to remaining at a school. Parents look for safety, quality academic programs, character development, and a caring atmosphere. Students value different characteristics, which the article details. How can you emphasize these and other mission-appropriate characteristics in your school's re-enrolment strategy?

Also worth a read: What LGBTQI+ parents want from their children's schools

#8: Governance

Editorial: More accolades for Sweet Briar

In 2015, the Board voted to close Sweet Briar College because it determined the school was not viable in the long term. However, the school's alumnae organized to force a reversal of the action through the court. Now, Sweet Briar College has been singled out as one of the Most Innovative Schools in the United States, according to the 2019 US News & World Report Best Colleges rankings, and enrolment has increased by 42% this year over last. The editorial highlights the importance of student recruitment and fundraising to a school's financial sustainability.

Also worth a read: Moritz family challenges Ohio State University for using percentage of endowments to woo more gifts

#9: Finance

No, Half Of All Colleges Will Not Go Bankrupt

According to this Forbes article, Clayton Christensen, Harvard professor and author, claimed in 2013 that "50% of the 4,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. will be bankrupt in 10 to 15 years." However, this article reports that the schools that have failed are the disruptive for-profits that "banked heavily on their marketing and profit-driven innovation and promised quick and/or career-ready skills." The author acknowledges that cost and price pressures are real, so, eventually, higher tuition costs will be disrupted.

#10: Physical Plant, Health & Safety

Weathering the Storms

This Usable Knowledge article provides advice to help school leaders prepare for - and cope during - natural disasters or sudden crises. The article answers the following questions:

  • When to close and reopen schools?
  • How to help students and staff cope
  • How to assess your emergency operations plan
  • What are the steps to take when school is back in session?

Also worth a read: E-cigarette warnings to arrive in high school bathrooms nationwide (US)

#11: Commitment to School Improvement

The Curse of America's Illogical School-Day Schedule

The author of this article, which appears in The Atlantic, writes that the school day could be improved in two main ways: "it could start later, and it could go longer." Early school start and end times have remained the norm, despite significant evidence that school starts too early for teens' sleep patterns. Better rested teens do better in school, get in fewer car crashes, and are less prone to depression. The school day also ends too early for working parents.

#12: Boarding Program

CBIE highlights "unprecedented" student numbers

According to a recent research brief by CBIE, Canada is the study destination of choice for an unprecedented number of international students. The brief highlights key trends with regard to level of study, province or territory of study and country of citizenship of international students. Students chose Canada for its reputation for safety, the quality of the education system and its tolerant and non-discriminatory society.

Also worth a read: Parents of Chinese students in the US "anxious" - report

Back to Most Recent Top 12