Creating Sustainable Change With Dan Kelley

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Daniel Kelley is an Associate Teaching Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Rhode Island. He previously served as the principal of Smithfield High School in Smithfield, RI. During his tenure, he successfully implemented sustainable change initiatives that profoundly impacted the school’s learning culture.

Dan’s contributions to education extend to national leadership roles as well. He served as the president of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) during the 2017-2018 school year and was a member of the NASSP Board of Directors for five years. His broad experience in education includes positions as a high school assistant principal, a high school and middle school special education teacher, and a middle school math and science teacher. In recognition of his outstanding leadership, he was named the Rhode Island Secondary Principal of the Year in 2012.

Key Takeaways
  • Securing excellent, early mentors is key to entering leadership. It’s essential to tap those we see as having leadership qualities  early and then give them small leadership opportunities.
  • Leaders need to be very conscious of the language they are using around others so they do not discourage people from moving into the position.
  • There is a critical need for a wider and increased range of people entering leadership roles.
  • Successful change isn’t always about “buy in”, but sometimes the readiness of those implementing the change.
  • Grading is a transactional process that is used to control behavior rather than validate understanding.
  • It's not our job to prepare students for bad practices happening at the next level.
  • You need to spend extra time with veterans who have been practicing the same way for years.
  • Work to meet teachers where they are by going to their classrooms and using different spaces than the main office.
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Who am I?

I’ve been an educator in Massachusetts for 23 years.  I’m finishing my 16th year as a building leader.  I’m a teacher centered Principal and passionate about continuous improvement and the idea that success is not a destination, but a process. I’m active on social media, vlog about continuous improvement on a weekly basis, and wrote a book also called SEEing to Lead as a way to help everyone improve education as a whole by promoting my “just cause”: improving the educational experience for as many people as possible by being purposeful, acting with integrity, and building character. 

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Creating Sustainable Change With Dan Kelley