What I learned at the Summer LI

I slept for 13 hours on Saturday night.

If you attended this year’s CAIS Summer Leadership Institute at Trinity College School in Port Hope, you will totally understand why that is a big deal.  And I bet you did the same.  I bet you walked into your bedroom when you got home and smiled.

Ever since that good night’s sleep, I have found myself thinking back on the week, and feeling even happier.

For starters, I was so pleased with the two new Forums for the Athletic Directors and the Communications Professionals, who have joined the Summer LI for the first time ever. As part of the wrap-up, I shared our PD Vision and asked the groups to explain what “demonstrable impact” the CAIS Forums will have on their schools. I filled chart papers with these action items that will make our schools even better. Isn’t that what it is all about?

Seven Heads joined us – including three who are starting their careers at the Summer LI! I heard many comments on this year’s topic, Money and Managing Change, and the ever-popular leaders: David Robertson and David Hadden (aka The Davids), Val Cambre, and Barry Wright. When I think about the busy lives that our Heads lead, I feel tremendous pressure to provide a valuable program. Based on this year’s feedback, it appears that CAIS is on to something good. We will offer a Heads program again, but our focus may change – I keep hearing requests for performance management, so that might be on next year’s agenda?

My greatest source of energy came from the Next Step group. As you may recall, this program is designed for current administrators who have to apply to the program and spend two summers in class and a year in between working on a change project with mentors. The feedback is still rolling in, but so far I have heard that “This program changes our school, fundamentally”, “The program was incredibly challenging and fulfilling in both a professional and personal level” and “The program helped me implement change in an area that aligns with the strategic plan and also helped me work through a change project within a structure of feedback.” If you know me, you know I am a real mush for this kind of work being completed by incredible people in our schools. I cannot say enough about the group who completed our program – they are wonderful! Congratulations!

And of course, I am humbled – truly! – with the energy and commitment of all those who attended the LI. This summer we hit a record – and I am not referring to the temperatures! – with over 170 people in attendance, and as I wandered the halls, I saw engagement and reflection and passion. Over four days, these folks put in 30 hours in the classroom plus additional hours of reading and prepping. In each room, there were up to eight provinces represented and over 40 different schools. Nothing makes me happier than to see the national network in action…

Our evenings include my favorite part. We will post the videos of this year’s Art of Leadership and New Leaders Series speeches. You are in for a real treat when you hear Karen Murton (Branksome Hall), Ian Robinson (Sterling Hall), John Liggett (Country Day) and Derek Logan (Kingsway College).   I love that they take time out from their summers to share their experiences with us, and I have found my mind wandering in the past few days, thinking about their words. Many people commented that this part of the program is a highlight for them.

Speaking of comments, I love to hear from people! Happy to share some of the emails:

Hal Hannaford, Head of Selwyn House: Back to reality. What a great week! The LI is such an incredibly rich educational experience for all, and as you know I have been very committed since the beginning. We are very lucky to have such an institution. …Let’s all reflect on another extremely successful Leadership Institute. It just might be the most important thing CAIS does.

Laurie Faith, Primary Co-ordinator at Montcrest School: This was my first year at the CAIS LI, and I wanted to thank you for all the work you did to make it so excellent. In particular, the Coaching module was absolutely transformative, and Barry’s Change Management module was so well-organized and cleverly taught that 10 hours seemed like about 2. I felt really lucky to be able to work alongside some of the most dynamic, inspired young heads in Canada, and so delighted to meet some of the old hands as well. Who knew what I was stumbling into when I sat down with Dave Hadden for dinner! Thank you so very much. It truly was a privilege to attend.

David Robertson, Head of Shawnigan Lake School: Just a few words to congratulate you and thank you for another very successful Institute – well done! Your energy and commitment are admirable and you should feel great pride in the outcomes; any feedback that I got about the whole experience was very positive. Thank you for giving me the chance to work with my old buddy which, as you well know is a veritable treat, but tiring as all out!

Susan Orr-Mongeau, Director, Communications &​ Marketing at The Study: Just a quick note to let you know how much I appreciated the CAIS Communication Forum. Your team did a great job. I was delighted with the talks, the openness and interactivity of the group and the discussions, which have gone on since. The spirit of collaboration has been planted! Thank you.

Keep the comments coming! Please email your feedback (or even better, comment on my blog!). We will send out our formal evaluation next week, and we will use it to make improvements as we do every year. So far, I know one change will be to our ‘What to Pack’ List….

That would be a fan.

A very warm thank you to Stuart Grainger and TCS for hosting us.

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