December 18, 2020

Hello Friends!

Yes, I am writing this as I sit at my desk, tapping away, while wearing my “I’ve Been Good” Santa hat (readily replaced by the Naughty hat, or the Bah Humbug hat, signs to my children of my personal seasonal emoji of the moment). I am sipping on a peppermint mocha coffee, with whipped cream, which is the only seasonal coffee beverage that has ever resonated with me and this year I secured the supplies to make them in-house with the best pre-pandemic investment from last holiday season – a Jura coffee machine. In short, I am about as ready to turn out the lights on 2020 as you are. Recognizing our collective mindset, this Friday’s missive will be slightly condensed.

Skimmers… WICHE released its Knocking at the College Door report, this HBR article to make sure that you remember how to learn and recognize new tricks, how remote work will change the world, we are never going back to the 1950s, year in review 2020 in 20 visualizations, visualization of the economy recovery in 2021, for those in budget turmoil, this NAIS snapshot, a podcast with the head of Providence Country Day school in RI about their big tuition reset, and Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity.

First, let’s hear it for some good news about our industry. This week, WICHE released its Knocking at the College Door report, which disaggregates data of high school graduates for public and private schools. There is good news for private school enrollment and generally good news for our region given our projected growth. Do take the time to read the full report as it gives a good window into the next few years and what we can expect, and it likely tells us a bit about what our k8 world is experiencing right now.



I won’t lie to you, I really hope we all refill our tanks over this break, as the exhaustion in schools in every position has solidified throughout the surge so many schools saw after Halloween and Thanksgiving this year. This HBR article is a good one for recognizing that reality and putting some priorities around work.

I found this Spencer Stuart article on rookie CEOs interesting, maybe in part because it didn’t require me to read the HBR article that it was summarizing a bit (that’s a free HBR link, by the way). Whichever way you go, they both tee up the question of reflecting on what patterns you have as a leader that might not help you because you are using an older playbook. Arguably, this is that much more true right now. Early in this pandemic, one head mentioned to me that it was actually a great time to start at a new school because she didn’t have the same feelings of loss or “but we have always done it this way” because, well, she had never done it that way. Knowing this head, it didn’t mean that she didn’t understand what her new colleagues were experiencing, but her fresh eyes gave her a much more flexible view of everything from operations to program, and it likely allowed her to catapult forward productive change.

A couple of short ones for you:

This one on building resilience and what that really looks like in practice. And this one, which is essentially a book review on Unchartered: How to Navigate for the Future, but has some good tidbits.


I will spend a chunk of time over the holidays walking the dogs, often on the beach. That is usually reflection time when I think about trends ahead, but it is also processing time for what has happened over the course of this year. Let’s all agree that this upcoming break will be insufficient to process 2020, but there are some of the things on my mind.

  • The changes to work are coming, quickly, particularly if you live in a place that is a magnet for those suddenly freed from a corporate office. This article around how remote work will change the world has me thinking about our interactions with parents and guardians and alumni, but also about what this next generation might want from a career in education.
  • I am also a little spooked by this pre-pandemic list of articles from January 2020 as the topics seem poignant and make me wonder if we are sitting on other consequential subjects and not moving quickly enough to catch the next wave.
  • In the broader context, this Atlantic article on how we are never going back to the 1950s really has me reflecting on particularly the American experience right now. It pinpoints the shifts that have given us all different information experiences, something that didn’t exist until very recently. Between the number of channels, news sources, internet sites, and general information sharing, the article makes the argument that relative to times gone by, we don’t have that shared information source or understanding anymore, and that may dramatically affect our world going forward.
  • And, if that is not enough existential angst for you, then stop by this piece on how we all reflect on lives unlived

My other reflections are further afield. This overview from the NYT on first time events in 2020 is a perfect example of the pieces I love this time of year. Everything from flying cars in Japan and the Brazilian surfer riding the biggest wave off the coast of Portugal. Visual capitalist is not to be left behind with its year in review 2020 in 20 visualizations. It is a good reminder of things you probably forgot about this year. And don’t miss their visualization of the economy recovery in 2021.


Some quick hits…

  • For those in budget turmoil, this NAIS snapshot might be helpful around what schools are considering as they budget for the next academic year
  • There is something along the lines of a slow motion train wreck sensation to this article about one of the victims of the college admissions scandal – the first-hand account of a student of the aggressive parents pushing on college admissions.
  • As work life has gotten more transaction with our ability to have more casual interactions, meetings might be a bit out of control. Does this sound like your school?
  • The great government hacking of 2020 seems to be the season finale of a complex year. Worried about your school? Check out this overview piece from ISTE on the state of cybersecurity in schools for 2020.
  • We are all going to need to retrench for a stronger 2021. This EdSurge piece on supporting educators in 2021 is a good one and includes information about a free course on managing emotions through Coursera. This might be helpful to avoid those doom loops that I had never heard of before this week, but they make an awful lot of sense.
  • We spoke a bit about the changes at Providence Country Day in RI and their HUGE tuition reset. EMA knocked out a podcast just in time of the break with the head of school there
  • This is a great overview on what schools have been learning during the pandemic.
  • I’ll give you the spoiler on this article from NonProfit Quarterly: as nonprofits the need for our services often go up during a crisis, delaying the economic effect for some nonprofits. This article does not mention schools, but it did get me thinking about our new families that needed us, particularly for in-person schooling. A good reminder that retention this year is a priority.
  • The first rounds of college admissions decisions for this year have been happening over the last few weeks. Trends? Fewer applicants, fewer financial aid form completion, and real concerns about what will happen next.

And, finally, for those still looking for reading over the break, check out these recommendations for inspiring reading from TEDTalk speakers. I will also share that Amazon just delivered a book I found out about yesterday morning – Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity written by Scott Galloway, also known as the NYU professor who created the spreadsheet of the apocalypse for higher education (click on the worksheet for the full spreadsheet version). Whatever happens in 2021, I think we can all agree that we have had enough of crisis and it’s time to power through to opportunity.

Before we move into that next segment of our ultramarathon, though, please do take the time to enjoy the holidays and step away to gain perspective, sleep, and renewed optimism. You might also try the holiday cocktail of your state or another, and play with the blob opera (if you tap the tree in the corner, they sing carols!).

Happy holidays, friends! Stay safe and we look forward to seeing you in the new year!