10 Trends for School Leaders to Ponder

Students from the fall theater production Descent into Mayhem

Last weekend some of MA’s administrators, board members, and I attended the 2012 California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) Trustee/School Head Conference in San Francisco. Pat Bassett, President of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), gave an interesting lecture titled “10 (More) Trends for Schools Leaders to Ponder (and actions to take).” The talk was a follow-up to the NAIS Trendbook that was published this fall, and included such topics as the economic, demographic, and philanthropic outlook for independent schools.

Freshmen on the Marin Academy field

In his talk this month, Bassett focused on several diverse topics (see full list below, and visit the NAIS website for more information on the Pat and the organization). What has stayed with me is the mention of schools as the “new church” as Generation X abandons organized religion. Referencing Ian Symmonds, who spoke at the Southern Association of Independent Schools conference last year, “Schools will become more church-like: social centers, family hubs, values-reinforcement, nexus for connections and community service.”

The Marin Academy Girls Volleyball team

While I don’t know if schools will replace religion, I do know that schools are a place where families go for emotional, social, and spiritual support. It is often when things don’t go the way we plan when this often becomes apparent: students and parents reach out for help that goes beyond the academic. At MA, we take this situation very seriously, and our students know it. We don’t preach a religion, but we do emphasize engagement that allows students to shape and solve their own problems, and reinforce that they have something to contribute to our community. We want them to develop resilience and agency in a community of support. It’s not about dropping students into a pool and seeing if they swim—we’re there, guiding them along the way.

I will be attending the NAIS Annual Conference in Seattle at the end of February, and am excited for many of the workshops and events (it will kick-off with Bill Gates and finish with Amy Chua, author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother—what a great pairing!). More to come next month about these topics.

The Marin Academy Boys Basketball team

The 10 things from Bassett’s speech:

  1. Boards Become Focused on the Strategic: Trendbook 2011-12
  2. Disruptions in K-12 Sector Will Provide Challenges & Opportunities
  3. Disruptions in Higher Ed Will Produce New Expectations
  4. The Future of Mobile is the Future of Everything
  5. Market Segmentation as the New Marketing Imperative
  6. Cosmopolitanism Emerging as the “Sixth Competency” Schools of the Future
  7. Hyper-Parenting and Under-Parenting Exerting a Heavy Toll on Kids
  8. Beyond the 3 R’s of Recruitment, Reward, & Retention: Managing Talent a Priority
  9. Design Thinking Migrating to Schools…and Ideas
  10. Schools will be more Flexible, Accommodating, and Innovative

About Travis

Head of School, Marin Academy.
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