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Teaching and Learning for the Greater Good

Time limit: 100 days

$199 Enroll

Full course description

Course Introduction

This is an extraordinary moment in the field of education. Outdated paradigms and thinking patterns are changing as we face social, economic, and public health challenges. These global and cultural shifts give educators an opportunity to help shape the next generation to be more socially, emotionally, and ethically astute—and, at the same time, to transform the educational process into a more humane one.

This beginner-level course will cover the science behind social-emotional learning (SEL) and mindfulness and how to weave it into our schools to help teachers put student and educator well-being at the center of the teaching and learning experience—and, in the process, begin creating a kinder, more compassionate world.

More specifically, this course will offer cutting-edge, science-based practices that cultivate:

Kindness and Cooperation in Schools

  • Exploring the potential of human beings for kindness, connection, and cooperation and what this means for schools

School Belonging

  • Using the science of trust and belonging to help educators support their school community (whether in-person or online)

Educator Self-Care

  • Clarifying a personal sense of purpose and building emotional resilience

Student Well-Being and Positive School Climate

  • Applying the science of empathy, compassion, and gratitude to foster greater student and school community well-being

Course Features

  • Four modules (i.e., approximately 2-3 hours of learning per module)
  • Pre-recorded videos featuring talks, demos, and practices
  • Interviews with experts, including:
    • Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., UC Berkeley psychology professor and co-founder of the Greater Good Science Center
    • Elena Aguilar, M.A., author of Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators, The Onward Notebook, The Art of Coaching, and The Art of Coaching Teams
    • Kamilah Drummond-Forrester, M.A., CAGS, director of Open Circle and facilitator with the National SEED Project
    • Meena Srinivasan, M.A., author of Teach, Breathe, Learn and SEL Everyday
  • Discussion guide for participants who want to engage in group learning (e.g., a school cohort)
  • An introduction to over 200 free research-informed practices
  • Mindfulness practices and reflection activities
  • Downloadable journal pages to capture your reflections, a-ha moments, and great ideas
  • Opportunities to informally connect with like-minded colleagues


Course Logistics

Who Should Take This Course?

  • Pre-K through 12 classroom teachers, paraeducators, and out-of-school-time providers
  • Pre-K-12 school mental health professionals and counselors
  • Pre-K-12 school and district-level administrators
  • Pre-K-12 teacher and administrator educators
  • Other higher education lecturers or professors are welcome to register, but please be aware that the course is geared primarily towards Pre-K-12 educators

Course Cost

The Greater Good Science Center is funded entirely by donations and grants—we do not receive any financial support from the University of California, Berkeley. However, we are able to offer many of our GGSC resources for free because we charge for some of our courses. We do our best to make our courses and events affordable for everyone, but realize that “affordable” can mean vastly different things depending on individual or geographic circumstances. Therefore, we are offering sliding scale rates for this course. 

We do not ask for income verification; we trust that students will be honest about their financial situation. Please be mindful that if you purchase the course at the lower cost when you can truthfully afford the higher cost, you are limiting access to those who truly need the gift of financial flexibility. It also respects the work we do, and our desire to offer many other free resources to educators. 

Please choose the rate that best matches your financial situation. If you are not sure which price level is appropriate for your circumstances, we’ve provided some guidance below:

$249 (Supporter Rate):

This cost reflects the cost of the course, as well as a willingness and ability to support the work and mission of Greater Good in Education and allows those with fewer resources to participate in this course. Please consider paying this rate if you have access to financial security, are able to pay freely for “wants,” or have ample support from your school or organization. Purchase the course at the base rate of $199 and make a donation to GGSC so we can continue to offer our free/affordable resources.

$199 (Base Rate):

This cost reflects the true cost of the course, and is what we would charge all students in the absence of a sliding scale. Please pay this rate if you have access to financial security in the form of income or savings or do not stress about meeting your basic needs. Also, consider whether or not your school or organization can provide financial support for you to access the course. 

$99 (Reduced Rate):

This cost reflects our acknowledgment that there are people whose economic circumstances would prevent them from having access to this course if expected to pay the full amount. Please pay this rate if you do not currently have financial security and/or regularly feel stress over meeting yours or your family’s basic needs. USE THE CODE “REDUCED” AT CHECKOUT TO APPLY THIS RATE

If the reduced rate is still prohibitive and you need additional support, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at

$25 (Low and Middle Income Countries Rate):

This cost reflects our acknowledgement that the economic levels among countries varies greatly. Please pay this rate if you come from a country recognized by the World Bank as Low or Middle Income. We also recognize that there is great wealth disparity within countries, so if you come from one of these countries, but have the financial means to pay a higher rate, please consider doing so. USE THE CODE “COUNTRIES” AT CHECKOUT TO APPLY THIS RATE

Acknowledgement to Alexis J. Cunningfolk for guidance around sliding scale fee language.

If you would like to enroll all of the educators (or a large number of educators) from your school, please reach out to us at to discuss additional payment options.

Course Credits

Educators may choose to receive course graduate-level professional development semester units/credits through Courses4Teachers and University of the Pacific. For more information about this option, visit Courses4Teachers and review their process for registration.


Course Curriculum

Introduction to the Course:

  • Course Overview
  • Meet Your Course Leaders
  • Learning Objectives
  • Pre-Survey

Module 1—Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life for Education

  • Our Human Potential for Connection and Cooperation
  • How Human Beings Are Wired For Connection: A Prosocial View of Human Development
  • What Our Capacity For Connection Means for Schools
  • How Science Defines a Meaningful Life and Why This Matters for Education
  • Using the Science of Purpose and Identity To Cultivate Meaningful Lives For Ourselves and Our Students
  • Special Guest: Dr. Dacher Keltner, UC Berkeley professor, best-selling author, and founder of the Greater Good Science Center

Module 2—Caring for Yourself: The Science of Emotional Resilience

  • Understanding and Navigating Your Emotions
  • Challenging Your Thoughts and Beliefs about Stressful Events
  • Incorporating Mindfulness into Your Daily Life
  • Learning How to Be Kind to Yourself
  • Special Guest: Elena Aguilar, author of ​Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators, The Onward Notebook, T​he Art of Coaching, and The Art of Coaching Teams

Module 3—Creating a Safe Learning Environment: The Science of Trust and Belonging

  • Why "Belonging" In Schools Matters
  • Surfacing Our Beliefs About Social & Emotional Well-Being and Belonging In Schools
  • Meeting Our Basic Psychological Needs: Seeing Ourselves, Students, and Colleagues As Human Beings First
  • Teacher-Student and Peer Relationships: Cultivating a "Psychologically Safe" and Trusting Learning Environment
  • Developing Trauma-Sensitive and Healing-Centered Communities
  • Special Guest: Kamilah Drummond-Forrester, director of Open Circle

Module 4—Supporting Your School Community: The Science of Empathy, Compassion, and Gratitude

  • Learning to Be Compassionate without Suffering So Much
  • Helping Students Identify and Describe Their Emotions
  • Fostering Empathy, Compassion, and Kindness at School 
  • Focusing on Gratitude to Enhance School Climate
  • Special Guest: Meena Srinivasan, author of SEL Everyday and Teach, Breathe, Learn

Continuing Education Information

We are pleased to be able to offer continuing education units for educators taking this course. To see more information about the types of units that are available, as well as how to register for units, please see our course page on the Greater Good Science Center website.

Course Outcomes

This four-module course is designed to help teachers, school leaders, school mental health professionals, and other education professionals use the science behind social-emotional learning and mindfulness to cultivate their students’ well-being, as well as their own—and to create kinder, more compassionate schools.

Participants will:

  • Understand how humans are wired for kindness, connection, and cooperation—and why this is important for schools
  • Understand how our capacity for connection along with the science of purpose and identity can help our students build meaningful lives that contribute to the greater good
  • Learn science-based practices for creating classroom and school environments that cultivate a sense of belonging among students and staff
  • Apply research-based strategies for navigating challenging emotions and developing inner resilience as an educator
  • Utilize practices from the fields of social-emotional learning, mindfulness, and positive psychology  (e.g., gratitude, empathy, compassion) to cultivate student well-being and foster positive school relationships
  • Review and make adjustments to practices so that they are culturally-responsive and trauma-sensitive

Outcomes for each Module

Module 1

  • Name three ways schools can foster connection among students
  • Identify two things their schools are already doing to foster connection among students and staff 
  • Name three ways educators can help students discover their purpose
  • Name two ways educators can help students foster a positive identity. 

Module 2

  • Identify their beliefs about their emotions and how those beliefs might conflict with (or complement) the way they actually express their emotions
  • Identify personally relevant strategies for navigating challenging emotions  
  • Question their thoughts and beliefs about stressful events
  • Apply and integrate mindfulness-based practices into their daily lives
  • Practice self-compassion during stressful events
  • Integrate the strategies and skills above into a personal resilience plan

Module 3

  • State one way that current social-emotional curricula promotes individualistic cultural norms 
  • Identify two common beliefs that teachers may hold about racially and ethnically diverse students that can negatively impact students' educational experience
  • Name three ways teachers can help meet students' psychological needs
  • Name two things they can do to foster psychological safety and trust in their schools.

Module 4

  • Identify and practice five self-distancing strategies for managing emotional distress
  • Identify and apply strategies for helping students understand and describe their emotions
  • Distinguish the differences between empathy, compassion, and kindness and use practices to foster empathy, compassion, and kindness among students and colleagues at school
  • Describe gratitude, identify cultural differences in gratitude expression, and use gratitude practices with students and colleagues


Faculty & Guest Experts

Vicki Zakrzewski, Ph.D., is the GGSC’s founding education director. Read more about Vicki

Amy L. Eva, Ph.D., is the GGSC’s associate education director. Read more about Amy.

Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., is the founding director of the Greater Good Science Center and a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Dacher is the host of the Greater Good Science Center’s award-winning podcast, The Science of Happiness, and is a co-instructor of the GGSC’s popular online course of the same name. He is also the best-selling author of The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence and Born to Be Good, and a co-editor of The Compassionate Instinct.

Elena Aguilar, M.A., is the author of five highly acclaimed books: The Art of Coaching (2013), The Art of Coaching Teams (2016), Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators (2018), The Onward Workbook (2018), and Coaching for Equity (August 2020). She is a regular contributor to Edutopia and ASCD’s Educational Leadership, and she was a blogger for EdWeek Teacher for many years.  Elena’s expertise derives from twenty-five years as a classroom teacher, instructional coach and leadership coach working in diverse school environments. Elena holds a BA in history and Latin American Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an MA in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Kamilah Drummond-Forrester, M.A., CAGS, is the director of Open Circle, an action program at the Wellesley Centers for Women that equips elementary schools with evidence-based curriculum and training to improve the school climate and teach children essential social and emotional skills. She is also a facilitator with the National SEED Project, and has led WCW community members in discussions around various topics surrounding equity and diversity.

Meena Srinivasan, M.A., is the executive director of Transformative Educational Leadership, an empowering, racially and culturally diverse, compassion-centered program for educational leaders who are called to integrate mindfulness, social, emotional, academic, and ethical learning into schools and school systems. She is the author of Teach, Breathe, Learn: Mindfulness In and Out of the Classroom and SEL Every Day: Integrating SEL with Instruction in Secondary Classrooms


How this course will benefit your students, your school... and you!

Social-emotional learning is good for students and staff

SEL improves students’ academic outcomes and general well-being, lowers risky behavior, and leads to better relationships with teachers and peers. Teachers who are able to regulate their emotions enjoy greater job satisfaction and personal accomplishment, in addition to better support from their principal. And when students feel emotionally supported by their teachers, both their academic outcomes and behavior improve.

Mindfulness is good for students and staff

Students who practice mindfulness report a greater sense of optimism and well-being, and a reduction in depression, anxiety, stress, and anger. They also benefit academically. Educators who practice mindfulness demonstrate an increase in their well-being and self-compassion as well as positive emotions. A regular mindfulness practice may also improve teachers’ relationships with students and augment their sense of efficacy in the classroom. 

Cultivating a sense of belonging at school benefits students and teachers

Students who feel a sense of safety and belonging at school have greater academic success and well-being. A supportive work environment lessens staff emotional exhaustion and feelings of low personal accomplishment. It also increases their commitment to the profession and bolsters their belief that they can make a difference in students’ lives.

Kindness and connection are good for students and school staff

Research shows that supporting students’ social and emotional well-being, which in turn cultivates kindness, increases their academic achievement and social competence, and improves their attitudes and behavior. High school students who see their school as a kind place are more motivated to learn, and are less likely to engage in risky behavior. Staff who are kind and feel more connected experience less burnout and see each other in a more positive light.

Cancellation Policy

Course users can cancel their enrollment or ask for a refund up to 14 days after the payment or 14 days after the course starts (whichever comes later). In order to qualify for a refund, users must not have completed more than 25% of the course modules or content. To cancel course enrollment, please contact Qualified refund requests may take up to 30 days to process.