2023 SEL Conference

Social and Emotional Learning Conference

Building Empathy, Compassion and Mindfulness in Schools

Join us at the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Conference offered on the University of Northern Iowa campus on Friday, April 7, 2023, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. CDT.

With the pandemic spotlighting the need for greater understanding of social and emotional learning and behavioral health in our classrooms, we are advancing the conversation on "what's next?" Be part of the dialogue as we explore ways to promote the social, emotional and behavioral health of children and educators in ways that advance equity and excellence in education.  

Keynote speakers include:

  • Marc Brackett, PhD, nationally recognized author, Yale professor and lead developer of RULER, an approach to social and emotional learning
  • ​Gina McGovern, PhD, professor and researcher known for her studies that support the development of youth’s social emotional skills and ethnic-racial identity

As an educator, this conference will help empower you to implement Iowa’s Social and Emotional Learning Competencies in ways that lead to inclusive, responsive and trauma-sensitive classrooms and promote educator self-care. Local, state and national experts will lead breakout sessions focusing on topics including: 

  • Creating classrooms where ALL students feel safe, connected and engaged in learning
  • Understanding the vital role emotions play in cognitive processing, physical health, and relationships
  • Promoting educators’ own social and emotional competencies and well-being
  • Using literature, mindfulness and compassion-based interventions and other strategies to support social and emotional learning
  • Deepening knowledge of social and emotional learning competencies, trauma-sensitive practices and self-regulatory behaviors

Hosted by the UNI College of Education, the conference will be held on site on UNI's campus with an online option for the keynote speakers  and one breakout session at a reduced rate (see registration). Free to UNI faculty, staff and students. 

Who should attend: Teachers, school counselors, school psychologists, school administrators and anyone who works with youth and children in the community! 

Registration: $50 before March 3; $60 after March 3. $30 for keynote speakers online-only option. UNI faculty, staff and students at no charge. Social Work CEUs and one hour of UNI undergraduate or graduate education credit for teaching license renewal also available.


Marc Brackett

Marc Brackett

Marc Brackett, PhD, is a nationally recognized author of Permission to Feel and founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and a professor in the Child Study Center at Yale University. He is the lead developer of RULER, an evidence-based, systemic approach to social and emotional learning that has been adopted by more than two thousand schools. Marc has received numerous awards and is on the board of directors for the  Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL).

Keynote Time: 8:10-9:10 a.m. CDT

Talk Topic: Permission To Feel: The Power of Emotional Intelligence to Achieve Well-being and Success in School and Life

Gina McGovern

Gina McGovern

Gina McGovern, PhD, studies the effective practices of adults who work with youth, especially those that support the development of youth’s social-emotional skills and ethnic-racial identity. She is currently working with the Chicago-based Hip-Hop F.I.R.M. to develop and deliver programming that promotes the positive development of Black youth. In addition roles as college professor and researcher, she had the pleasure of teaching middle school math for five years.

McGovern will be joined in her keynote presentation by Cortez Watson, M.Ed. LSMA, founder and president of The Hip-Hop F.I.R.M. 

Keynote Time: 9:20-10:30 a.m. CDT

Talk Topic: What It Takes: A Call to Action for Racial Equity-Oriented Social and Emotional Learning


Connecting SEL with children's literature 

Pat Zeitlow Miller

‌Building on themes from the 2022 conference, Pat Zietlow Miller joins this year to participate in a presentation, a fireside chat and a book signing. A corporate communications professional by day, she’s turned a lifelong passion for storytelling into a second career as a children’s picture book author. Her first book, “Sophie’s Squash,” won the Golden Kite Award, an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor and a Charlotte Zolotow Honor. “Be Kind” was on the New York Times bestseller list for 10 weeks. These are among more than 20 books she has now authored, including "When You Are Brave." Miller lives in Wisconsin. 

(All times Central Daylight Time) 

7:30-8:00 a.m.  Registration
Maucker Union Ballroom

8:00-8:10 a.m.  Welcome!
Dean Colleen Mulholland, College of Education
Maucker Union Ballroom

8:10-9:10 a.m. Keynote Speaker Marc Brackett
Maucker Union Ballroom

9:20-10:30 a.m. Keynote Speaker Gina McGovern
Maucker Union Ballroom

10:30-10:50 a.m. Break
Travel from Maucker Union to Schindler Education Center

10:50 - 11:40 a.m. Breakout Session 1
Remainder of conference at Schindler Education Center

11:40 a.m. -12:30 p.m. Lunch, Vendor Exhibits & Children's Book Author Signing

12:30-1:20 p.m. Breakout Session 2

1:20-1:30 p.m. Break

1:30-2:20 p.m. Breakout Session 3

2:20-2:30 p.m. Break

2:30-3:20 p.m. Breakout Session 4

3:20-3:30 p.m. Thank You!


At-A-Glance Schedule (Virtual) 

For a reduced rate of $30, you can register for the two keynote sessions and this special breakout session. All times Central Daylight Time. 

7:45-8:00 a.m.    Log In
Zoom link included in registration confirmation email

8:00-8:10 a.m.   Welcome!
Dean Colleen Mulholland, College of Education
Zoom link included in registration confirmation email

8:10-9:10 a.m.  
Keynote Speaker Marc Brackett
Zoom link included in registration confirmation email

9:20-10:30 a.m. 
Keynote Speaker Gina McGovern
Zoom link included in registration confirmation email

10:30-10:50 a.m.  Break

10:50-11:40 a.m. 
Breakout Session Speaker Rasheena Bell  
Zoom link included in registration confirmation email