Goal:  School leaders are often overwhelmed, underprepared, and isolated.  TELI’s goal is to provide resources, training, and support to build the capacity of campus leaders to be effective in supporting their school’s efforts to increase student achievement.

Vision: Texas Educational Leadership Institute will provide resources and training, as well as a venue for collaboration among the leaders of Texas’ schools that will build the capacity of the schools to raise student achievement and sustain gains.

Mission:  To create a supportive network among leaders of Texas schools, providing resources and training to increase leadership effectiveness that is reflected in higher student achievement.



Literacy is fundamental to school improvement!


I was fortunate last year to visit several Texas Reward Schools in various areas of our state.  Although we were focused on different TAIS Critical Success Factors at each of the schools, there was a pervasive similarity among the schools…A FOCUS ON LITERACY.

Whether the school was elementary or middle school, each school had a system to ensure students, teachers, and administrators focused upon moving every student toward college and career level literacy.  In one school, an elementary English teacher had the Lexile scores of each student posted on a wall, showing their incremental growth toward a college level reading level.  In a middle school, I was “mobbed” by students who wanted to tell me their Lexile reading level.  A system of assessing student reading levels was in place.  The results of the testing were shared not just among teachers, but with students and parents.  A clear goal of having students reading at the levels required by ACT/SAT by the time they left middle school was embraced by all stakeholders.

The following article provides another example of the power of focusing on literacy as a school seeks to improve student achievement:



Building the Abilities of your Staff

Just as it is no longer sufficient for a campus principal to be an adept manager of buildings, budgets, and buses, they must also be a now be a  leader, inspiring their staff and students to action toward a common vision of high student performance.

The term instructional leader is used more often when describing the role of a campus principal.  This role appears to be expanding from one of supervision and evaluation to one of building the capacity of the staff through coaching and feedback.

There are several challenges for campus leaders as they try to make this shift:

  1. Time:
    • Time management is going to be a critical skill as a principal schedules observations, feedback conversations, and follow-up with individual teachers. There is never enough time!  Other things will always demand your attention.  You must take action early to get started on the walk-through, goal setting, observation, coaching cycle.
    • One key action is to get into classrooms at the beginning of the school year  to get a general sense of how the entire campus is doing.
      • Focus on one particular element of the evaluation rubric (or T-TESS).  Let staff know what you will be looking for in your walk-throughs that week.  Make sure they know what quality implementation of the element would look like.  After walk-throughs, publish your results in a generic fashion: 90% of the math teachers had their learning objective posted; 100% of the teachers in the 9th grade hallway were at their doors during the passing period.
      • Find out if there are common issues that could be a focus of professional development for the entire campus or department
      • Find out which teachers may need a mentor or experienced teacher to support them and link them together early in the year.
      • Start a collaborative group for your new teachers to give them support on the “nuts and bolts” of school.  Do a book study with them on “Teach Like a Champion” or “The Art & Science of Teaching” to help with the basics.
      • Try to get in every classroom several times as early in October as possible. Then set up those goal conferences early in November.
      • If you have a struggling teacher, be sure to have their goal setting conference early so they have maximum time to work their plan, and you have time to get into their classroom and provide support.
  2. Helping staff accept the change in role:
    • For many traditional educators, the role of the principal as the evaluator will be a hard one the change.  Building a collaborative, trustful relationship with staff that will enable you to create a situation where they are open to coaching may take some work.
    • One key action is to get into classrooms often.  Try to stop in every classroom at least twice a week even if it is for only two minutes.  Leave positive notes when you see something going well.  Don’t be afraid to talk openly changing to a coaching model of interaction.  Let staff know you are trying to get into classrooms.
  3. Skills:
    • For secondary principals, especially, the classroom content can be challenging.  It is hard to be knowledgeable enough about content standards to understand the quality of instruction.
    • One key is to go to training with your staff.  Teachers will enjoy having you learn with them.  This practice also allows you to understand what teachers are implementing and to reinforce it.
    • Another key is to sit in Professional Learning Communities while they are planning lessons or debriefing an assessment.  Even staying for a short time will give you insight into the curriculum.
    • Read the standards.  TEKS resources has a great breakdown of the standards and what to look for in a classroom.

It is hard to find highly qualified staff…and we know that the quality of the classroom teacher is a critical element in student achievement. Therefore, we, as building leaders,  must work to develop the capacity of our teachers and help them to be the best they can be.

Every Year is a New Beginning

This has always been my favorite time of year.  It always feels a bit like New Year’s Eve…a chance to begin again…to make resolutions and goals that will make me a better person and thereby, a better leader.

It is difficult as the demands of starting school envelop a leader to remember those goals, bright ideas, and resolutions made during a summer of training and reflection.  I have a former student who made a resolution to live a more healthy lifestyle.  He called his challenge “the Samson challenge” and shaved his head as a symbol of his commitment.  As long as he kept his commitment, his hair grew.  When he slipped back, he shaved again.

This type of visualization of commitment to goals may seem a bit extreme, and I am not suggesting we all cut our hair!  However, we need some type of symbol or visual reminder of our goals and resolutions.

Here are some ideas to keep your goals and resolutions at the forefront to guide your actions during the storm of running a school:

  1.  Write them down in simple terms and put them near your phone or computer so you can see them everyday.
  2. Share them with a coach or close colleague who can help keep you centered on them.
  3. Find a physical symbol – like a rock, shell, or another item – that will remind you.
  4. Keep a notebook and take two minutes each day to reflect on your progress toward your goals.


“Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism.”
—David M. Burns

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
—Helen Keller