Department Chairs Institute

Aug 02, 2021 9:00AM—Aug 04, 2021 2:00PM



Cost $1000 members; $850 group-rate; $1500 non-members

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Department Chairs Institute

SESSION 1: August 2, 2021 | 9:00am - 2:00pm

SESSION 2: August 3, 2021 | 9:00am - 2:00pm

SESSION 3: August 4, 2021 | 9:00am - 2:00pm


The role of the department chair is often one of the most complex in a school. The chair must negotiate the responsibilities of leadership within the department as a teaching colleague while at the same time work with the administrative team in addressing the larger issues of the entire school. The Department Chairs Institute will guide participants in exploring the multilayered challenges of this unique position and in developing the knowledge, skills and strategies to become effective department leaders.

With the help of readings, activities, and group work, participants will learn new skills and processes, support each other around challenges they face, and establish a strong “leadership learning community” amongst themselves. Throughout the Institute, participants will have opportunities to work individually and collaboratively on their own department visions, and will leave with a plan to implement their goals in the year ahead.

Some of the specific topics we will explore are:

  • Forging a common and compelling vision/direction amongst independent-minded colleagues
  • How to identify, prioritize, and advance professional and departmental goals for the short and long term
  • Effective department meeting design and facilitation
  • Leading and managing change over time

Central questions we will explore are:

  • How can I support my department through uncertainty and unpredictability?
  • How does my leadership need to shift in a virtual learning and blended-learning environment?
  • How can I support the design and facilitation of key department work?
  • How can I support my department to collaborate and develop as a professional learning community?
  • How can I help the department contribute to the development of the school as a whole?
  • What is my departmental vision and goals for the coming year, and how can I lead my team in working toward that vision?

Do you work at an independent school outside of California? Click here for a discount on our non-member registration!



Deborah Dowling is the Executive Director of the California Association of Independent Schools. Prior to her current position she was the Assistant Head for Academic Affairs at Chadwick School. Prior to Chadwick she was the Upper School Director at Bridges Academy, and before that, the Director of Studies and Middle School Science Chair at Harvard-Westlake School. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Deborah holds a bachelor's degree in physics and a doctorate in the history and philosophy of science. Deborah has taught students from kindergarten through undergraduate, in subjects ranging from music and philosophy through outdoor education and information technology, but most of her work has been in middle school science and high school physics. She has developed science curriculum materials for the Los Angeles County Office of Education, UCLA, Western Governors University, and the Victorian State Board of Studies in Australia.

Cancellation Policy

Life happens. We understand that there will be times when you cannot attend a workshop that you have registered and paid for. We strive to be as helpful and flexible as possible when things out of your control happen. Please visit our FAQ page for detailed information about our cancellation policy and answers to frequently asked questions about enrollment and membership.