Social Emotional Learning

Dawn Ganje, Program Officer - Training  
In late June, NMF and Peacemaker Resources' staff attended the Greater Good Science Center Institute for Educators at the University of California, Berkeley.  The lessons learned at this Institute will be incorporated into the STAR (Students Teaching Attitudes of Respect) curriculum delivered in the NMF 12-county region.

The topics covered were varied and powerful.  We attended the conference with 150 education professionals from PreK through the university level.  There was representation from Washington D.C., 22 states and 15 countries from five continents.

Leading researchers shared how to bring emerging brain science to our schools for the benefit of both the students and the adults who serve them. The wealth of insight and inspiration abounded and we walked away with essential tools. We now have the practical tools to boost our students' happiness, well-being and success, as well as our own.

Meena Srinivasan, MA, NBCT, presented Mindfulness and Social Emotional Learnings: A Culturally Responsive Approach.  

I appreciated her definition of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) as a process through which children and adults develop the fundamental skills for life effectiveness. These are the skills we all need to handle ourselves, our relationships, and our work effectively and ethically. Everyone strengthens their social competencies to connect across race, class, culture, language, gender identity, sexual orientation, learning needs and age.

Srinivasan shared three questions in relation to Social and Emotional Learning (SEL):

1.      How do we intentionally develop a positive culture and climate in our schools for all members of the learning community?
2.      How are we intentional about teaching the knowledge and skills of SEL?
3.      How do we intentionally incorporate practicing SEL skills during academic content lessons?

These are questions that NMF and Peacemaker Resources have intentionally discussed and incorporated methodologies into our STAR curriculum.  We will be broadening our focus on these questions as we continue to bring STAR to the regions' school districts. We will be offering in-services to partner schools on SEL and the ways to incorporate SEL methodology into classroom instruction.

During our discussion of cultural responsiveness, Srinivasan shared a powerful TED talk, The Danger of a Single Story. 

This powerful story from Chimamanda Adichie encourages us to move beyond critical misunderstanding, and embrace the many stories of our lives and our cultures.  

Srinivasan shared a definition of cultural responsiveness as showing up in an interpersonal interaction, mindful of our own histories, contexts, filters and habits of mind and with curiosity and an open heart. 

We need to enter each encounter willing to be informed and changed by the interaction and each other’s cultural perspective. 

Our goal is to bring lessons learned to the region and to provide an opportunity for schools to prioritize social and emotional development and well-being as a priority for every student through learning, discussion, education and our STAR programs.

For more information about the Greater Good Science Center, please visit:

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child. —Carl Jung


  1. Thanks Dawn for this summary of the conference. I look forward to seeing how this information enhances programs in schools.


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