John D’Auria

Professor of Practice

Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Division

Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania


Professional Biography

Dr. D’Auria joined the Penn GSE Division of Teaching Learning, and Leadership in 2017 after a seven-year tenure as president of Teachers21, a non-profit, professional development organization that supports educational reform and improvement efforts across a wide variety of public and private sectors. Under Dr. D’Auria’s leadership, Teachers21 provided thousands of educators with opportunities to expand their instructional repertoire and deepen their content knowledge, with a special focus on education leadership. In 2010, Dr. D’Auria was appointed by the Massachusetts Commissioner of Education to a statewide task force to study and develop a new framework for the supervision and evaluation of all educators in Massachusetts. In addition, Dr. D’Auria has worked with leaders across Massachusetts to strengthen practitioners’ work around social and emotional learning and was appointed to the Rennie Center Condition of Education Advisory Committee, which seeks to build a more coherent, and research-based, vision of a public education in Massachusetts. Before joining Penn GSE, Dr. D’Auria taught a course on district level instructional leadership at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education in their Professional School Administrator Program (PSAP). 

Prior to his work at Teachers21, Dr. D’Auria was Superintendent of Schools in Canton, Massachusetts. His educational career has spanned over four decades as a math teacher, guidance counselor, principal, superintendent, and consultant. Dr. D’Auria has advised hundreds of school leaders on how to sharpen the academic focus of school teams, develop a vibrant school culture, and manage conflict in the workplace. 

Dr. D’Auria’s research focuses on the ways in which the assumptions that people hold about intelligence significantly influence their learning. He co-authored School Systems That Learn with Dr. Paul Ash (Corwin Press, 2012) and is the author of Ten Lessons in Leadership and Learning (2010), a resource geared toward new and experienced leaders. Dr. D’Auria authored a curriculum for aspiring school leaders called “The DNA of Leadership,” which became a cornerstone for the Leadership Licensure Program sponsored by the Massachusetts School Administrators Association. Additionally, Dr. D’Auria co-authored How To Bring Vision to School Improvement (Research for Better Teaching, 1993) with Dr. Jon Saphier. He is a frequent speaker at national and regional educational conferences and has served as an executive coach to a wide variety of educational leaders across the country.

Research Interests and Current Projects

Dr. D’Auria has collaborated with Dr. Kathryn Stanley, an organizational psychologist, to develop opportunities for educational leaders to understand systems dynamics, strengthen their own personal insights into their leadership, and navigate the complex conversations that are often part of reform efforts. Part of this work has involved the use of improvement science tools and principles to guide problem solving at the district level.  

Dr. D’Auria is currently working on a new book with Dr. Craig Murphy from William James College on harnessing the power of social psychology to improve schools.


Selected Publications

D’Auria, J., & Covino, N. (2016, June 29). Ep. 7: Social-emotional learning in schools [Audio podcast].

D’Auria, J. (2015). Learn to avoid or overcome leadership obstacles. Phi Delta Kappan, 96(5), 52–54.

D’Auria, J., & Ash, P. (2013). Blueprint for a learning system. Journal of Staff Development, 34(3), 42–46.

Ash, P., & D’Auria, J. (2013). School systems that learn: Improving professional practice, overcoming limitations, and diffusing innovation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

D’Auria, J. (2010). Ten lessons in leadership and learning. Newton, MA: Teachers21.

D’Auria, J. (2009). The superintendent as teacher. Phi Delta Kappan, 91(1), 81–83.

D’Auria, J., & King, M. (2009). A principal’s dilemma. Schools, 6(1), 129–137.

D’Auria, J., King, M., & Saphier, J. (2006). Three strands form strong school leadership. Journal of Staff Development, 27(2), 51–77