Vicki Zakrzewski (zahk-shef-skee), Ph.D., is the education director of the Greater Good Science Center.
In her role as education director, Vicki writes a blog that provides science-based ideas for promoting the social and emotional well-being of students, teachers, and administrators, as well as methods for creating positive school cultures. Her work has also appeared in ASCD’s Educational Leadership, Edutopia, and Huffington Post.
Vicki also gives talks and workshops, and leads the GGSC’s Summer Institute for Educators—an annual multi-day event in which educators from around the world learn how the science of compassion, empathy, gratitude, awe, and other social-emotional skills can enhance their own lives and the lives of their students.
In addition to her writing and workshops, Vicki consults with organizations on how to incorporate the science of well-being into their work. Recent collaborations include those with the Mind and Life Institute (of which she is a fellow), the Jim Henson Company on a new television show for preschoolers, the International School of Brussels on the Common Ground Collaborative curriculum, and Pixar/Disney on The Emotions Survival Guide—a follow-up book for children based on the movie Inside Out.
A former teacher and school administrator, Vicki earned her Ph.D. in Education and Positive Psychology from Claremont Graduate University. In her doctoral research, Vicki spent two months in India at a school awarded the Peace Education Prize by UNESCO and the Hope of Humanity Award by the Dalai Lama, researching their methods for developing teachers’ ability to create caring relationships with students.
Stories by Vicki Zakrzewski
Nurturing Gratitude from the Inside Out, from The Inner Resilience Program, offers practical classroom activities integrating gratitude, social-emotional learning, and mindfulness.
Foster kindness and goodwill at your next meeting by saying “thank you.”
A new report finds that the presidential election is having a negative impact on students. What can educators do?
New research suggests we need to take account of how diverse groups of students view and apply SEL skills.
Articles: How to Cultivate Humble LeadershipBy Vicki Zakrzewski | February 9, 2016
One principal shares how she transformed her school culture by recognizing her limitations--and then listening to students and staff.
It's so hard to be humble. Here are three tips for taming your ego.
The emphasis on testing can squeeze the feeling out of today’s classrooms. Here is one teacher’s journey to re-connect with herself and her students.
Articles: What a Greater Good School Looks LikeBy Vicki Zakrzewski | October 27, 2015
One school in India is cultivating the well-being of students by implementing Greater Good Science Center practices.
Discussing the new film adaptation of Kahlil Gibran’s timeless poems with students can help reveal the science of a meaningful life.
Check out these research-based practices for cultivating staff well-being—a key to successful schools.
The new Pixar film has moved viewers young and old to take a look inside their own minds.
If we want our students to become happy adults, research suggests that schools should focus more on students' well-being than academic success.
When taught together, social-emotional learning and mindfulness can have even greater impact on both individuals and the world around us.
Articles: How to Build Trust in SchoolsBy Vicki Zakrzewski | February 19, 2015
Education reform efforts often undermine trust in schools, but research points to another way.
Social-emotional learning programs need to be built on a moral foundation, suggests new research.
Articles: Social-Emotional Learning: Why Now?By Vicki Zakrzewski | January 7, 2015
Our new and deeper understanding of human development is reshaping how we think about education.
Research has found that boys can connect emotionally with others at a very deep level—we just have to make it safe for them to do so.
If adults want to raise caring kids, research suggests they might need to start by examining the mixed messages they’re sending to kids.
SEL doesn't just change the teaching—it changes the teachers and the students. Here are their stories.
Slide Presentation: The Science of a Meaningful Life for EducationBy Vicki Zakrzewski | August 28, 2014
Workshop for educators about how the science of a meaningful life (including awe, hope, mindfulness, empathy, compassion, self-‐compassion, and gratitude) can be applied to enhance the well-being of teachers and students.
Greater Good's editors pick this year’s most thought-provoking, important, or useful nonfiction books on the science of a meaningful life.
Christine Carter explains how to shorten your to-do list and feel more motivated to tackle it, all at once.
A new book examines the common psychological barriers to change—and how to overcome them.
Greater Good Events
December 9-10, 2016
This workshop is an introduction to Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC), an empirically-supported training program based on the pioneering research of Kristin Neff and the clinical perspective of Chris Germer.
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Take a Greater Good Quiz!
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Watch Greater Good Videos
Talks by inspiring speakers like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dacher Keltner, and Barbara Fredrickson.Watch
Greater Good Resources
- "Gratitude and Prosocial Behavior"
Finds that feeling gratitude produces kind and helpful behavior, even when that behavior is costly to the individual actor.
- "Compassion: An Evolutionary Analysis and Empirical Review"
Compassion evolved as a distinct affective experience whose function is to enable cooperation and protection of those who...
- "From Jerusalem to Jericho"
This article on bystander intervention in emergency situations suggests that we are likely to help a “shabbily dressed”...
- Jeffrey J. Froh’s Laboratory for Gratitude in Youth
Learn more about one of the leading researchers of gratitude.
- Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude
The GGSC’s new project which aims to expand the scientific database of gratitude and promote practices of gratitude in...
- The Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness
The Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness, co-directed by Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough, is a...
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Best-selling author and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program