Educators and Champions from Around the Globe Gather for the World's Largest Free Online SEL Conference

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Mar 31, 2020
by Soila Kenya
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Educators and Champions from Around the Globe Gather for the World's Largest Free Online SEL Conference

For this year’s International Day of Happiness, Karanga – a Salzburg Global Fellow-led initiative – holds a virtual convening on social and emotional learning.

On March 20, the International Day of Happiness, Salzburg Global teamed up with Karanga: The Global Alliance for Social Emotional Learning and Life Skills to hold a free online gathering of champions of social and emotional learning.

The event was held as a way for practitioners to learn from leaders in the field and connect with an international community committed to the support of children’s social-emotional well-being.

Social and emotional learning or SEL as it is commonly known can be defined as “the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”

Karanga, a global alliance that emerged from the Salzburg Global program series, Education for Tomorrow’s World, advances the awareness, knowledge and understanding of skills for learning and life and it bridges the perceived divide between academic knowledge and social emotional skills.

Mark Sparvell, Education Leader at Microsoft, founder of SELinEDU and Fellow of Salzburg Global Seminar thinks that SEL should be at the core of education. “Social and Emotional Skills are fundamental and no-longer ornamental aspects of high quality education and have incredibly long reaching impact on well-being of individuals and more broadly, societies and economies,” he told Salzburg Global.

Over the course of the day, two three-hour sessions were held in order to cover all time zones with a public assembly about mainstreaming SEL in between.

The line-up of speakers included people from across different sectors; government officials, professors, people from the private sector and people from the NGO world, representing a large swath of perspectives. Keynote speakers included Shailendra Sharma who spoke about the Happiness Curriculum in Delhi; Marcela Almeida who spoke about the implementation of SEL in Brazil; Margot Foster who spoke about developing expert learners and learner agency in South Australia; and Jordan Posamentier who spoke about advocacy strategies.

Further discussions also comprised of new tools to support SEL and a community conversation about where the field of SEL is heading.

“We need more opportunities to share what works in SEL across different education systems,” said Dominic Regester, Salzburg Global Program Director and Karanga Executive Committee Member when asked about the key takeaways from the online conference. He added, “There are amazing examples of policy, research and practice from around the world and social and emotional skills and competencies underpin essential behaviors that will shape the success of our response to COVID-19.”

With a turnout of almost 400 people across both sessions, there was feedback from participants that similar sessions are needed within the community. 

The conference was made possible with further help from Committee for Children, Compassion Games, SELinEDU and the Synergized Impact Network Exchange (SINE).
Sparvell, who also spoke during the conference said that partnership will be the driving force of achieving the goals of SEL moving forward. “Our partnership with Salzburg Global Seminar indicates a shared commitment to empower every learner on the planet to expect more, do more and be more,” he said.