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
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.
If we want our students to become happy adults, research suggests that schools should focus more on students' well-being than academic success.
Articles: How to Build Trust in SchoolsBy Vicki | 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 | 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 | 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.
Our Summer Institute for Educators brought together almost 100 people from all over the world—to study, play, and connect with others who are striving to make a difference in students’ lives.
Videos and Podcasts: Vicki Zakrzewski on Awe (SIE14)By Vicki | July 1, 2014
A presentation by GGSC Education Director Vicki Zakrzewski on awe and its applications in the classroom, given July 1, 2014, at the Greater Good Science Center Summer Institute for Educators.
Research shows that the spark of kindness resides in everyone, and even small school actions can fan that spark into a flame.
Videos and Podcasts: Vicki Zakrzewski on Social-Emotional Learning and Contemplative Practice in Education (SIE14)By Vicki | June 28, 2014
In this introductory presentation given June 28, 2104, at the Greater Good Science Center Summer Institute for Educators, Vicki Zakrzewski provides an overview of the landscape of social-emotional learning and contemplative practice in education.
Articles: A New Model of School ReformBy Vicki | May 21, 2014
Oakland Unified is transforming its schools by embedding social-emotional learning into the district culture—one adult at a time.
Articles: Two Ways to Foster GritBy Vicki | May 5, 2014
To help students learn to overcome obstacles in pursuit of long-term goals, educators should focus on developing cognitive and emotional skills.
Articles: What’s Wrong with Grit?By Vicki | March 20, 2014
Schools are exploring how to foster—and even grade—perseverance and passion. But before we take grit too far, we need to remember how little we know about it.
Articles: Three Ways to Foster a Forgiving SchoolBy Vicki | February 5, 2014
Research suggests that forgiveness might be an unexpected but powerful way to enhance school culture
Articles: What Makes a Teacher Lose It?By Vicki | January 30, 2014
Recent research suggests that teachers' attachment styles—how their childhoods shape adult relationships—may influence their work in the classroom.
Implementing the Common Core doesn’t mean educators have to abandon SEL—in fact, just the opposite might be true.
Our kids' lives are not our lives. Once you recognize that fact, says Christine Carter, you can start the conversation.
In an adaptation from his new book Altruism, Buddhist monk and bestselling author Matthieu Ricard takes on the notion that humans have a fixed nature.
A new study applies attachment theory to understand why some people donate more to charity than others.
Greater Good Events
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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”...
- Center for Investigating Healthy Minds
The Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, runs a state-of-the-art neuroscience...
- Northeast Foundation for Children
Northeast Foundation for Children is a non-profit educational organization that offers educators the Responsive Classroom...
- Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship
Based at the University of Michigan Business School, this is a networking community for researchers and practitioners...
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Best-selling author and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program