Sample Days

Menu of Heads Up Educational Consulting Offerings

(1-day in-service training or combined up to 5 or more days for retained services on major projects)

Download the Sample Days Offerings as a pdf


A Day on – Mission, Philosophy, Values, & Vision:

Consultant’s Assignment: Review & critique current documents and statements. Facilitate small group conversations on updating each of the four documents.

School’s Advance Assignment: Planning group exercises on sorting of values and priorities.

Consultant’s Deliverable: An integrated and succinct combined document with an appropriate “short-hand” tagline.


A Day on – Assessing & Benchmarking Data

Consultant’s Assignment: Deep dive into the school’s data. Collection of constituent opinions. School’s Advance Assignment: Administer surveys from the NAIS Online Survey Center or other vendors, including the Parent Satisfaction Survey and the Young Alumni Survey, plus student engagement data from Indiana University’s the High School Survey of Student Engagement (HSSE). Produce from the NAIS Demographic Center the schools demographic report and projections in the years ahead. Share benchmark data from comparable schools (StatsOnline) or produce “push-button reports” from some or all of the new NAIS Data and Analysis for School Leadership (DASL) Dashboards in key performance areas (KPIs): admissions, budget, endowment/debt, plant, student turnover, financial aid, tuition, net tuition revenue, faculty, annual fund, and staffing. (There are user tutorials on the NAIS website to assist schools in using the programmable dashboards or creating their own.) Submit to the Heads Up consultant one week ahead of the visit the data report, and the admin team’s “key takeaways” from each of the constituent surveys.

Consultant’s Deliverable: Debrief on and structured exploration of the findings.


Two Days on – Observing and Synthesizing Operations

Consultant’s Assignment: The first day and the morning of the second day are onsite operational and programmatic “walkabout” assessments: chats with key school leadership and with a random sampling of students and faculty; brief observation of classes, afternoon sports and activities (and evening residential life for boarding programs); informal conversations with parents and support staff; local alumni; etc. The afternoon of the second day of this two-day segment is divided into 2 hours (12:00 – 2:00 pm) for the consultant(s) to gather observations and compare notes) and 2 hours for reporting out findings to the school leadership (admin team and SPC).

School’s Advance Assignment: Set up the schedule.

Consultant’s Deliverable: Report and debrief on findings.


A Day on – Assessing and Evaluating Current Trends and their Potential Impact

Consultant’s Assignment: Present observations on current global and industry trends impacting or soon to be impacting the trajectory of independent schools in key strategic areas: recruiting & retaining faculty talent; marketing & messaging to the prospective parent market; differentiating one’s school programmatically; etc.

School’s Advance Assignment: Read and prepare notes on The NAIS Trendbook, observing key trends the school believes will or should impact their operations. Assign each member of the admin team with one or more members of the Strategic Planning Committee one of the trends from The NAIS Trendbook to become the group’s “expert” reporting out on the Day Four Sessions. (Note: pick the six to ten trends most important to your school to assign to the admin/SPC

Consultant’s Deliverable: Share how schools and other organizations are thinking about and acting on the trends.


A Day on – Schools of the Future: The Big Shifts

Consultant’s Assignment: Part I: For all faculty and staff and SPC (plus board and parents, if possible): a 90- minute keynote examination what the MacArthur Foundation calls the six “big shifts” in education, at all levels: From…

1.) knowing to doing;

2.) teacher-centered to student-centered;

3.) the individual to the team;

4.) consumption of information to construction of meaning;

5.) schools to networks (online peers & experts);

6.) single sourcing to crowdsourcing.

And as a bonus,

#7.) high stakes testing to high value demonstrations of learning.

Part II: 60-minute small-group breakout sessions of faculty and staff divided in groups of 12 -15 across divisional lines to discuss the implications of The Big Shifts for one’s school.

Part III: 60-90 minute debrief session(s) for all staff (or for large schools, by divisions or departments), led by the consultant: “headline from the small group sessions from each group’s note-taker/ reporter, with commentary on observations made by the consultant, followed by open-ended Q&A on all related topics.

School’s Advance Assignment: Create the day’s schedule and breakout groups and assign a group facilitator and a note-taker/reporter to each breakout group. See the Schools of the Future Breakout Sessions Format document on the website.

Consultant’s Deliverable: A full day’s in-service for faculty/staff.


A Day on – S.W.O.T. Analysis

Consultant’s Assignment: Based on the results of observations and conversations from the work indicated above, engage the SPC team in a substantial exercise in S.W.O.T. (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis.

School’s Advance Assignment: Send to the board the article 25 Factors Great Schools Share in Common and administer the survey version of the article (on our Resources Page), asking each board member to identify 8-10 top factors that are important to your school, that the school does well, and that could be leveraged, then asking each board member to identify 8 -10 top factors that are important to your school, that the school doesn’t do as well, and that need to be improved.

Consultant’s Deliverable: First stab at identifying key strategic areas to focus on in the strategy-making process.


A Day on – Brainstorming Strategies

Consultant’s Assignment: Facilitating the Strategic Planning Committee process to outline the categories for the plan moving forward. Writing up a draft from the outline to present to the SPC.

School’s Advance Assignment: Produce a chart from crowdsourcing that shows results for each draft priority, by constituency: parents; faculty; staff; administrators; alumni; board; key donors. Put the emerging priorities through a Balanced Scorecard filter to identify the which one or more factors each proposed strategic priority would address: i.) Financial Sustainability; ii.) Customer Satisfaction; iii.) Business Process Efficiency; iv.) Innovation.

Consultant’s Deliverable: A map from the sessions revealing the recommended priorities for the school.


Two – Days on – Drafting and Writing a Plan

Consultant’s Assignment: Based on prior days’ work at the school, draft up with the team from the school an outline for a school’s strategic priorities for the future.

School’s Advance Assignment: Schedule a teleconference or Skype consultation prior to the consultant’s visit for the school head, Strategic Planning Committee chair, and PFB for discussion on prominent themes and priorities.

Consultant’s Deliverable: A statement of strategic priorities and strategies for the school.


A Day on – Board Governance

Consultant’s Assignment: Depending on the length of the workshop, schools can choose one, two, or all three parts of this governance training menu (or possibly pick one part and match it up with an abbreviated presentation on another topic offered kin this brochure). For those who choose the focus strictly on governance, the choices are the following:

• Part I – Trusteeship 101: For New Trustees, an overview (using role plays and case studies) of the basic concepts of independent school governance, including the roles and boundaries of the four major players: the board, head of school, faculty, and parent body.

• Part II – Trusteeship 201: An application of the BoardSource’s rubric of The Source: Twelve Principles of Governance that Power Exceptional Boards, utilizing the independent school governance tableau, NAIS data on board operations, and real-world case studies from the field.

• Part III – Trusteeship 301: For all trustees, an examination of the three levels of governance (fiduciary, strategic, and generative) as identified by Harvard scholar Dick Chait in his book, Governance as Leadership, with examples of each to engage trustees and school heads in thinking about how boards can add value to the school

School’s Advance Assignment: One or both of the following: 1.) Administer and share results with the consultant from the online NAIS Board Self-Assessment Survey or some other comparably comprehensive evaluation instrument. 2.) Create a survey for the board to consider Pat Bassett’s monograph on 25 Factors Great Schools Share in Common, asking each board member and administrative team member to identify five to eight top factors that are important to your school, that you do well, and that you could leverage; then asking each board member administrative team member to identify five to eight top factors that are important to your school, that you don’t do as well, and that need to be improved.

Consultant’s Deliverable: A day’s in-service board training, including debrief on board assessment and/or board/admin


A Day on – Principled, Change Agency Leadership for School Leadership Teams

Consultant’s Assignment: Part I – How do we make garden-variety decisions that are consistently principled, rationale, and effective in “fast and slow thinking” ways? What is Z-based decision making and the four-way test to ensure all considerations are entertained? What defines “difficult conversations,” and how do we make them go well? How can we scenario-test a school’s current conundrums and role-play the decision model: Part II – An examination of the change dynamic in schools, examining the strategic issues related to the teaching profession, why faculty and schools seem (either on occasion or too often) impervious to change, and new approaches to effecting and leading change by leaders. He will share various models of change agency, including those outlined by Dan Pink in The Science of Motivation, by Robert Kegan in Immunity to Change, and by Chip and Dan Heath in Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard.

School’s Advance Assignment: Leadership team’s assessment of the ten most important and difficult changes the school

Consultant’s Deliverable: A day’s in-service training on making difficult decisions, applied the school’s agenda of upcoming difficult decisions.


A Day on – The Moral Life of Schools

Consultant’s Assignment: What are the professed and embedded values of a school’s culture, and when and how are they conflicted by the development stages of the moral growth of youth or by the unwillingness of the adults to consistently articulate and enforce the ethos and character expectations of the school? Using the Institute for Global Ethics’ rubric of three systems to unpack “right vs. right” dilemmas, how do we educate students and staff to apply universally accepted frames of reference for making difficult ethical judgments? What do the kids see as the variance between the espoused values and the lived values in the school? What do they see as their parents’ main expectations for them? How do we help students sort out clarity and consistency in their own path towards becoming “smart and good”?School’s Advance Assignment: Survey of parents on Robert Kegan’s list of most important outcomes for students (from The Parents We Mean To Be), then a survey of students to see they perception of their parents values for them. Prepare schedule for consultant to mean alone with three groups of up to 15-20 students from various age groups.

Consultant’s Deliverable: A day’s in-service for faculty and/or parents, including reporting back to the adults a reflection of the students’ perceptions of the moral imperatives of the school culture.


Multiple-Day Assignments:

• Strategic Planning: Typically a 10-day commitment including data-gathering and analysis; sorting of issues to

development a framework of key topic possibilities; expert analysis of trends related to the key topics; testing of ideas with a range of constituents; drafting of plan; approval and communication of plan to the constituency.

• Executive Coaching: One of the principals of firm teams up with one of our partner consultants (a licensed psychologist) to offer analysis and feedback on leadership style and effectiveness for the head and admin team of the school, based on 360 feedback and psychometric assessments that reveal areas of strength and areas needing improvement for each member of the team and for the team itself.

• Executive Search: Depending on how much work the school chooses to do on its own, from 10 days to 20 days of the consultants’ time, the lesser amount assuming the school does all the preliminary work up to identifying the pool of 8 – 10 quarter finalists to background check and interview, at which point the principal consultant would become part of the interviewing, vetting, and winnowing process, through the contracting stage with the finalist and a transitional stage once on board with the school. The 20-day version would be if the firm did all the work from beginning to end.

• Scholar/Expert in Residence: Typically five days spread over a 7-day week of keynote addresses, workshops, office hours, classes, and brainstorming in any combination the school and consultant agree upon for topics the school wishes to entertain or operational elements the school wishes to audit (advancement, sustainability, etc.)

• School or School within a School Start Up: Some multiple of 20-day commitments, depending on the length, breadth, and complexity of the project.

School’s Advance Assignment: Planning of the topics and schedule for the week.

Consultant’s Deliverable: Real-time, sustained engagement with a host of constituents on topics of importance to the school. Option of follow-up executive coaching on an hourly basis by phone, Skype in “face to face” meetings, and email

Note: Schools interested in this option should contact one of the senior consultants to discuss in more detail the schedule, content, and costs.

Download the Sample Days Offerings as a pdf