Schools of the Future Conference 2015 

SEL programming was a key focus of the 2015 Schools of the Future Conference, where 1500 teachers and administrators from Hawaii’s public, private, charter and parochial schools came together to learn. Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, Professor of Human Development at The University of British Columbia, spoke about why SEL is essential: “We learn best when we feel best,” she said, pointing to research that demonstrates improved academic achievement in SEL classrooms. “If you are less stressed and more attentive, you will be able to share and help others, and then be able to achieve more, including excelling in school.” 

One of the SEL programs whose effectiveness has been proven by a decade of research is Roots of Empathy. Founder and President Mary Gordon spoke at the Schools of the Future Conference about building empathy, which is widely considered one of the top 21st century skills. Roots of Empathy centers around a series of visits to a classroom by a baby and parent from the neighborhood and a 27-week curriculum that helps children identify and reflect on their own feelings and the feelings of others. 

“Every classroom is a microcosm of society,” according to Mary Gordon, who is working with schools in ten countries to incorporate social and emotional learning into the curriculum. As schools of the future become places where children can experience being cared for and caring for others, more students will grow up to be the kinds of adults our world needs. The Schools of the Future Conference was presented by the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools, the Hawaii Department of Education, and the Hawaii Community Foundation in partnership with Pillars of Peace Hawaii and the Hawaii Society for Technology in Education.

See some photos from the conference in our gallery

See replays of the SEL presentations here: