UNI social and emotional learning conference

MEG GROVE, Staff Writer

The Social and Emotional Learning Conference sponsored by the UNI College of Education and Ken Budke returns on April 7, 2023 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The conference will take place in Maucker Union and Schindler Education Center with a limited virtual option available as well.

The conference will highlight many different aspects of social and emotional learning and how educators can benefit from this knowledge. “The goal is to present new information, research, practical applications of research on social and emotional learning and how we can improve those services we provide to kids in school,” said Nicole Skaar, Associate Professor & Coordinator, School Psychology Program.

Marc Brackett, Ph.D., and Gina McGovern, Ph.D., are the two keynote speakers at the conference. Brackett is a nationally recognized author, professor at Yale University, and a lead developer of RULER, a social and emotional learning approach. Brackett will speak on how social and emotional intelligence sets up well-being and success in both school and life. McGovern is a professor at Central Michigan University and is known for her research on developing social and emotional skills and ethnic-racial identity in kids. 

During her speech, McGovern will speak about racial equity-oriented social and emotional learning and will be joined by Cortez Watson, founder and president of The Hip-Hop F.I.R.M. 

After the keynote speakers in the Maucker Union Ballroom, attendees will make their way to Schindler Education Center for four breakout sessions. There are five to six different speakers in each breakout session, offering attendees the opportunity to learn about a plethora of different aspects to social and emotional learning.

Pat Zietlow Miller will be joining the conference to discuss her books and how they connect to social and emotional learning. Miller has authored over 20 children’s books, with her first book, “Sophie’s Squash,” earning a Golden Kite Award, an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor and a Charlotte Zolotow Honor. Miller’s book “Be Kind” was on the New York Times bestseller list for 10 weeks. 

An online version of the event is being offered to people who can’t attend the event in person. Online attendees will be able to watch both keynote speakers and Rasheena Bell’s breakout session “Linked Through Love: A Trauma-Informed Pedagogy.” 

People attending the event online will receive zoom links in their confirmation emails. Understanding and utilizing social and emotional learning is more important than ever. 

“The pandemic put a highlight on skills and the things that kids need when they come to school,” said Skaar. “It also highlighted mental health issues that were happening in our adolescence.” Skaar referenced the CASEL framework as the best way to define social and emotional learning. This framework highlightsself-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills and social awareness. “These really are the skills of success for people working in our society,” said Skaar. “The team of us that have planned this for a second year really hope that teachers, educators, students that attend and faculty that attend really come away with some tangible things that they can do to improve the social and emotional learning in their classroom or in their lives,” said Skaar. “And also maybe a different perspective of what social and emotional learning is and how it can positively impact the lives of our K-12 students.”

The conference is free to UNI students, faculty and staff. Practicing professionals can register for the entire conference for $60 or the limited online version for $30. Visit the UNI website to register for the in person or online version of the conference and view the full schedule.