Texas Principal

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The following is the link to a draft document of Items to consider for 2013-14 as a result of the passage of House Bill 5 by the 83rd Texas Legislature.  It was created by Kelley Baehren of Waller ISD as a working document of various issues to be examined that would have impact on Waller ISD as a result of passage of the bill.

It is a great place to begin the discussion with your campus or district staff about your response to the various provisions of the bill

Link to draft document of House Bill 5 Items to Consider for 2013-14 

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Texas education image-web

Excellent synopsis of the 2013 Texas Accountability System (and beyond) from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , the Curriculum and Federal Programs Director for Waller ISD.  Kelley has allowed us to share this presentation to help you as you train your own campus and district staff.

You can access the 2013 Texas Accountability Update Powerpoint here (on Slideshare)

Update 8-8-13

Texas School Public Relations Talking Points

Added 8-4-13

You can download the PowerPoint from google drive here for editing (please credit accordingly).  Note the color appearance of the slides changed some when uploaded to google drive.


 Items to Consider for HB5 Implementation in your district

 Proposal from TEA related to implementation of HB5 (8-2-13)

Kelley also developed a similar update presentation in 2012 which can be accessed here

Editor's note:  

If I had to start a school district from scratch, and could pick my first employee, that employee would be Kelley Baehren.


Follow us on twitter at https://twitter.com/TxPrincipalOrg

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 Access picture

There are many memorable moments from the 1996 Atlanta Games that we all collectively can recall.  The following is a brief recap of one of those events memorable only to a few.

Pre-Olympic Square bombing, most of the buildings around the downtown Atlanta venues were still locked up and impenetrable by the casual Olympic fan from Texas.  Equipped only with a pocketful of low demand tickets to weightlifting, field hockey, and judo, my group's Atlanta experience to that point had been less than Olympian.

During one of the many interludes between our three events we were traversing near one of these inaccessible buildings.

At that point we noticed this particular building was draped with an inviting banner that read, "Welcome Texans."  A quick flash of our valid Texas Driver's Licenses granted us access to the Gallery Furniture Welcome center for the unsuccessful Texas 2004 Olympic Bid.  More importantly we were then given coveted neck badges complete with official Atlanta 1996 Lanyards.  

After enjoying complimentary fajitas and sharing a personal moment with local Houston businessman Mattress Mac, we parlayed those badges into visits to the Swedish 2004 bid room and the ESPN's Broadcast row (Hello Chris Meyers, that was me walking by your set) .  At no point did anyone stop us from looking around as the badges and lanyards granted us access to everything in the building. It.was.awesome.

Without access to the leader, feedback never connects with plans and solutions never find their way to problems.

How accessible are you to your stakeholders?

  • Does your demeanor invite or restrict access (related: Your expression says it all)
  • Do you have an open door policy that is blocked by your secretary and an actual closed door?
  • Do your stakeholders have the ability to actually email you directly?
  • Would any of your students think to look for you anywhere in your building other than your office?
  • Do your stakeholders think their is a passing chance they might see you at a student function?
  • Do your students react with shock and awe when they see you in a classroom or the cafeteria?

There are certain restrictions to completely unfettered access that are necessary for the organization to function, but the leader has to be mindful and create workarounds to make access for the stakeholders regardless of district size.

A principal in a school of 500 students will have to devote less time to creating opportunities for student access than a principal of a school of 2500 or more, but both of them have to be intentional in their efforts.  

Granting access means you will hear about more problems, but those problems already existed.

You were just unaware.

An inaccessible leader is a flag planter with no followers.  Make yourself accessible to those you lead and serve.

Final thought

As Principal at Kempner High School in Fort Bend ISD, I had an office that had two entrances, one of which opened directly into a main hallway.  I never closed that hallway door except for private meetings. I had a handful of negative stakeholder experiences because of that easy access, but I was blessed repeatedly by impromptu student visits.


2013 Summer Leadership Series

Follow through

Who do you meet with?

Involve everyone

Response Time


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b2ap3_thumbnail_Principal-in-cafeteria.jpg (story behind this image, worth a read)

Being "visible" is more than just being seen, although attempting to be seen in a variety of functions and locations is a good place to start for new principals.  Your physical presence at school events, team meetings, in the hallways, and in the cafeteria communicates much about your priorities and concern for your staff and students. But true visibility goes beyond simply changing your physical location and requires intentional engagement.

Without attempted stakeholder engagement, then your location doesn't matter and in fact you probably should stay in your office rather than be seen moving around your campus detached from your staff and students.  

The best principals, whether it is natural to them or forced, approach, interact and respond with their students and staff during their movement around the campus or while working a duty area. 

In the cafeteria they push trash cans around, simultaneously building relationships with the students and modeling great servant leadership for their facilities staff. They know where individual students sit and use the time to both learn about potential issues and to also preemptively resolve them.

In the hallways, they call students by name (first, last, even nicknames) and converse easily about their activities and interests.  They change their location throughout the day so that they are accessible to a large part of the staff for at least one class change.  Their students begin to look for them and anticipate their presence and are quick to inquire about where they are when they do not get to see them.

At extracurricular events they move around the stadium communicating with parents, staff, and students while solving various problems, preventing others, and solidifying their important connections with everyone they meet.  The next day they use their observations of student performance to foster many impromptu conversations in the hallway and cafeteria.

Practice true visibility: Approach, Interact, and Respond

Final Thought:

The last thing over-worked and under-timed principals need is another blog telling them to do one more thing.  But "Being Visible" isn't one more thing, ultimately it is the thing. It is what your student's need and more importantly it is what you need.

Summer Leadership Series:

Response Time

Involve Everyone

Who do you meet with?

Follow Through


The Principal your students need


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 Respond 2


My mother is dating (It's ok, she has been divorced for about 40 years).  She shared with me that she had enjoyed a nice first date experience, but now the long term prospects were dimming for this particular gentleman.


Response time.

She had recently called him and he had, as of this writing, not yet returned her phone call.  His response time had fallen way outside of her expectation window.

Consider how your stakeholders view your personal response times to them.

How do you manage the many requests that you receive via email, phone messages, and from in the hallway conversations with staff and students while still being the highly visible principal that your students and staff need?

(What kind of principal do your student's need?)

It is a good leadership practice to thoughtfully consider before making any response to an email, phone or personal inquiry (remember, when the leader opens their mouth they make policy), but you need to communicate some acknowledgement of receipt message to all inquiries you receive from your stakeholders.

You also need to emphasize response time to your staff or you will find yourselves personally handling stakeholder problems while leading a school full of staff members that are certain no one in leadership listens to them.

Here are a few tips to manage response time:

  • Train your secretary to go beyond simple message taking when they receive a call.  They should feel empowered to redirect phone calls made to you to another person in your organization and be able to effectively communicate the reasons for doing so with the stakeholder. 
  • Develop an electronic or paper system to keep track of all the inquiries you receive (related: Follow through).
  • Habitually mark as unread any emails you read but to which you do not immediately respond. Consider printing out critical emails until you are ready to respond.
  • If you delegate messages sent to you without personally responding, then you must have a good system for ensuring that whoever you delegated the message to responds in a timely manner. In the perception of the stakeholder, the failure to respond on time will be viewed as your personal failure.
  • Model 24 hour response and require it of your staff.
  • Make the tough phone call before you go home, especially if it is from a first time inquirer.  

Final Thought:

Certain stakeholders will demand your attention and not be satisfied until YOU respond to them personally. This cannot be avoided, but if you have a good plan to handle all other inquiries then you will have time for those particular cases.


Want to get faster response to your own inquiries?

Need more time?

Summer Leadership Series:

Follow Through

Who do you meet with?

Involve Everyone


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