Dennis Shirley

Dennis Shirley is the inaugural Florencia and Marc Gabelli Family Faculty Fellow and Professor of Formative Education at the Lynch School of Education and Human Development at Boston College. Dennis dedicates his life to the improvement of teaching and learning for students so that they may flourish wherever they may be.  His research focuses on the frequency of conflict between the ideals of educators and the realities of power and politics. A charismatic presenter, Dennis has conducted research and led professional development workshops for school leaders in six continents and his work has been translated into many languages. Most recently, he has led a research team in studying educational innovations in Seoul, South Korea, along with his Lynch School colleagues Professor Deoksoon Kim and Dean Stanton Wortham.

With co-author Andy Hargreaves, Dennis has completed three new books.  The first is entitled Five Paths of Student Engagement:  Blazing New Trails to Learning and Success. It illustrates the ways in which educators  are helping students to engage with demanding curricula and are doing so with joy and panache.  A second book is on Well-being in Schools: Three Forces that will Uplift Your Students in a Volatile World. The third book is entitled The Age of Identity:  Who Do Our Kids Think They Are … and How Can We Help Them Belong? All three of the  books show educators how they can translate ill-defined problem sets into winnable goals that can be attained with persistence, creativity, and dignity.



Dennis Shirley provides inspirational keynote speeches to educators around the world on cutting-edge research on school improvement and proven strategies for elevating student learning even in the most challenging of circumstances. Dennis works collaboratively with conferences organizers to prepare speeches that are carefully customized for your district, state, national, or international events.


Dennis offers a broad repertoire of workshops meticulously adapted for the current challenges of your context. He is known for working with educators with patience, humor, and a sense of moral urgency to solve the pressing problems of your school or system.


The multifaceted demands of school improvement today often require fresh perspectives from those who have studied in detail the world’s top-performing school systems. Dennis works with educators at all levels of school systems to clarify their most pressing issues, generate a range of potential solutions, and to measure progress accurately and with multiple indicators.

An Internationally Acclaimed Expert in the Field of Education

As Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Educational Change, Dennis gathers the world’s most cutting-edge research into accessible and inspirational articles for educators everywhere. As an independent author and consultant he has worked with schools and school systems in 23 nations to improve student achievement and professional engagement with learning. This map indicates schools or school systems where Dennis has consulted or currently is consulting with educators to improve student learning.

Dennis has worked with leaders in the education sector. He has worked with schools, professional organizations, universities, government & transnational organizations. Selected clients include:
Industrial Areas Foundation
Ministry of Education, Japan
United States Department of Education
Research Council of Norway

Consultancies, Contract Work, and Speaking Engagements
Alberta Assessment Consortium
Alberta Initiative for School Improvement
Alberta Teachers' Association
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
American Educational Research Association
Annenberg Institute for School Reform
Arizona K-12 Center
Australian Council of Educational Leaders (ACEL)
Bosch Foundation (Germany)
Boston Public Schools
British Columbia Principals' and Vice Principals' Association
California Teachers' Association
Canadian Association of Principals
Canadian Federation of Teachers
Council of Alberta School Superintendents
Council of Ontario Directors of Education (CODE)
Dunman High School (Singapore)
Eastern Zone (Singapore)
Ecole d'Humanite (Switzerland)
Edmonton Catholic Schools (Alberta, Canada)
Education 2020 (Chile)
European Educational Research Association
Education International
Education Northwest
Education Project (Bahrain)
Ford Foundation
Fort McMurray Public Schools (Alberta, Canada)
Freudenberg Foundation (Germany)
German Academic Exchange Service
Academy of the German School Prize
Global Learning Alliance
Grande Yellowhead Public School District ( Alberta, Canada)
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Heidehof Foundation (Germany)
Helsingborg Public School Systems (Sweden)
Houston A+ Challenge
Industrial Areas Foundation
Institut Jean-Jacques Rousseau, University of Geneva (Switzerland)
International Association for Scholastic Excellence (Singapore)
Jamaica Teachers' Association
Learning Forward
Massachusetts Coalition for Teach Quality and Student Achievement
Mellon Foundation
Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
Ministry of Education, Bermuda
Ministry of Education, Japan
Ministry of Education, Republic of South Africa
Ministry of Education, Singapore
National Institute of Education, Nanyang University, Singapore
Northwest Rural Innovation and Student Engagement (RISE) Network
One Square Kilometer of Education (Germany)
Ontario Federation of Teachers
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
Principals in Action, Norway
Principals in Action, Sweden
Public Interest Alberta
Quest Conference, York Regional School Board, Ontario (Canada)
Research Council of Norway
Rice University (Houston, Texas)
Roche Center for Catholic Education (Boston College)
Rockefeller Research and Study Center, Bellagio, Italy
Singapore Principals' Academy
Singapore Teachers Academy
Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (England)
Teachers' College, Columbia Unversity
Teachers for a New Era
Teachers' Union Reform Network (TURN)
TEDX, Porto Alegre, Brazil
Trillium Lakeland School District, Ontario (Canada)
Union of Educators Norway
Union of Upper Secondary Teachers, Denmark
United States Department of Education
Universidad de Maule, Talca, Chile
Universidad Pedagogica Nacional, Mexico City, Mexico
Universidad Pontifical Catolica, Santiago, Chile
University of Barcelona (Spain)
University of Connecticut, Danbury
University of Dortmund (Germany)
University of Hildesheim (Germany)
University of Houston (Texas)
University of Massachusetts Boston
University of Rhode Island
University of Vienna (Austria)
Urban Networks to Improve Teacher Education (UNITE)
Victoria Principals' Association (Australia)
Vinschools (Vietnam)
Wellesley College
Wellesley Public Schools (Massachusetts)
Western Australia Primary Principals' Association (WAPPA)
Presentations and Workshops for Professional Associations
Academy of the German School Prize
Alberta Teachers Association
American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE)
Arizona K-12 Center
Education 2020, Santiago, Chile
Global Learning Alliance, New York City
Jamaica Teachers' Federation
Ontario Teachers' Federation
TEDX, Porto Alegre, Brazil
Victoria Principals' Association (Australia)
Vinschools (Vietnam)
Washington Association of School Administrators
Western Australia Primary Principals Association (WAPPA)
Foundation Support for Research and Presentations
Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
Bosch Foundation
Ford Foundation
Freudenberg Foundation
German Academic Exchange Service
Heidehof Foundation
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
Rockefeller Research and Study Center, Bellagio, Italy
Specialist Schools and Academics Trust (England)
Presentations for Scholars and Ministries of Education
Australian Council for Education Research
Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard University
International Association for Scholastic Excellence (Singapore)
Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland
Ministry of Education, Japan
National Institute of Education, Singapore
Research Council of Norway
Teachers College, Columbia Unveristy
University of Barcelona (Spain)
University of Viennatt (Austria)
Book Dennis Shirley for your next event or conference.