Topics & Issues
Review Fundamental Roles and Responsibilities
Many times, a board retreat is needed to review fundamental roles and responsibilities. Often, this is in the context of onboarding new board members to ensure they know and understand their role and how their role differs from the head of school and other school leadership. This “governance workshop” approach is especially effective as a refresher for every board member and establishes the relationship between the board and the head of school. Best practice calls for the head and board to work together and a retreat that addresses these issues is a very useful and helpful way to present this material.
Often a board will use a retreat setting to initiate a strategic planning process. Once the process has been completed, the board may use a retreat to conclude the strategic planning process. Both retreats can be highly effective and focused ways in which to address the strategic direction of the school.
The board may see a retreat as a way to determine its own effectiveness. Often each trustee completes an evaluation instrument and the results are then shared and discussed during the retreat. Again, a retreat setting can provide focus and purpose by encouraging the board to clearly understand, accept, and carry out their responsibilities. An evaluation instrument that may be helpful to your school can be found in Dr. Mott’s book, Healthy Boards – Successful Schools: The Impact of Governance and Leadership on Independent and Faith-Based Schools.
The decision by a school to consider a major fundraising program usually requires extensive planning. The formulation of that plan, the steps necessary to implement the plan, and deliberations held in a retreat setting may well reveal strengths and concerns regarding the plan.
Schools often have a variety of programs and services they provide as a part of their mission and vision. The board retreat can be a venue for dialogue as to whether additions, deletions, or changes to programs should be considered. The genesis of fundraising campaigns and programatic review may well be the strategic planning process.
General Business of the School
Board retreats may also be similar to a regular meeting in terms of the agenda but may take place in a setting that allows the board to bond and build stronger relationships over a more extended period of time beyond what a regular meeting would allow.
At the heart of Dr. Mott’s commitment is his desire to assist independent and faith-based schools in maximizing their potential. He understands that preparing students to become the next generation of leaders requires schools to be their best by doing their best. The relationship between the head of school, board chair, and all trustees is the single most important factor in determining schools that thrive as opposed to those that merely survive.
Dr. Mott has extensive experience conducting and facilitating board retreats for independent and faith-based schools. He brings an independent resource capable of providing experience, perspective, wisdom, and respect to the entire process. Having Dr. Mott lead the process tends to allow everyone—board, head of school, staff—more freedom to actively participate in the discussion. Every school should conduct retreats and should budget for Dr. Mott to help achieve the results needed for success. It is this type of investment that separates schools that thrive from those that merely survive.
Using his new book, Healthy Boards – Successful Schools as a catalyst to meaningful conversations with school leadership, Dr. Mott will conduct your retreat in such a way as to exceed whatever expectations the school had for the retreat. Here are a few key areas that the retreat will address:
- Identify and resolve critical issues that can significantly enhance your school.
- Create a roadmap for the leadership of your school and board to work effectively and productively.
- Review and revise your bylaws and other documents to reflect your school’s mission, vision, and values.
- Utilize interactive case studies to address specific issues and areas of concern and point out pitfall to avoid.
- Provide action steps to ensure that the leadership recognizes warning signs and create a plan to address each one.
- Reinforce the characteristics that define a successful relationship.
- Encourage the awareness of best practices and how they foster a healthy board and a successful school.