Speakers and Sessions


The COVID-19 pandemic has left many students feeling lost, stressed, traumatized, detached, and uncertain about their future. However psychological sciences research has found that providing a sense of purpose, social connections, and curious exploration can help buffer against the effects of stress, trauma, and socioeconomics; improve learning; and help humans thrive. Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman proposes that Renowned Psychologist Abraham Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs" is more like a ship than a pyramid where the sail that propels self-actualization and success in navigating life's uncertainties are purpose, love, and exploration.

Uncertainty has become the new normal. As we prepare for a Post-COVID world, perhaps it’s time to rethink the purpose of education from passing standardized tests to creating schools that help all students thrive in an uncertain, challenging, constantly changing world.

This virtual conference will explore the psychological science behind, the strategies for, and the benefits of purpose and meaning, connections and belonging, self-stories and identity, and curiosity and exploration, and their role in learning. Discover how to create schools that promote purposeful, meaningful learning and opportunitiies to both succeed and fail so students can thrive in today's uncertain world.

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This Unique Conference Will Provide You With:

  • 2 days of LIVE keynote presentations and breakout sessions from renowned psychologists and educators
  • Real-time Q&A with experts and LIVE tracks and breakout groups with colleagues
  • Up to 12 hours of LIVE Professional Development
  • Access to an additional 20 hours of recordings for one month following the conference
  • Slides and resources from the conference
  • The latest research from brain and cognitive sciences on the role of meaning and purpose on achievement
  • Research and strategies for educators of all grades


Educators, Parents
Curriculum, Staff Developers
Speech-Language Pathologists
Learning Specialists, Special Educators
Early Childhood Educators, Professionals
Superintendents, Principals, Assistant Principals
PreK-12 Teachers, Administrators, School Heads
Literacy, Math, Technology, Master Teachers
Testing and Assessment Professionals
Teacher Education, PD Professionals
College, University Professors


Featured Speakers

Setting Sail: Purpose, Meaning, and Exploration in an Age of Uncertainty

Scott Barry Kaufman, PhD

Cognitive and Humanistic Psychologist; Adjunct Associate Professor, Barnard College, Columbia University; Host of the #1 Psychology Podcast, The Psychology Podcast, with over 12 million downloads; Columnist, “Beautiful Minds,” Scientific American; Author, Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization (2020), “Post-Traumatic Growth: Finding Meaning and Creativity in Adversity” (2020, Scientific American), and “Self-Actualized People in the 21st Century: Integration With Contemporary Theory and Research on Personality and Wellbeing” (2018, Journal of Humanistic Psychology); Co-Author, Wired to Create (2016) and “Imagination Is the Seed of Creativity” (2018, The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity)

Positive Emotions, Purpose, and Social Connections

Barbara L. Fredrickson, PhD

Kenan Distinguished Professor; Director, Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory (PEP Lab), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Author, “Biological Underpinnings of Positive Emotions and Purpose” (2016, The Social Psychology of the Good Life), Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become (2013), and Positivity (2009); Co-Author, “Staying ‘In Sync’ With Others During COVID-19: Positivity Resonance Mediates Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Links Between Trait Resilience and Mental Health” (2020, In Review), and “The Lay Concept of a Meaningful Life: The Role of Subjective and Objective Factors in Attributions of Meaning” (2020, In Review)

The Deep History of Ourselves

Joseph E. LeDoux, PhD

Director, Emotional Brain Institute ; Principal Investigator, Center for Neural Science, New York University; Researcher, Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research; Author, The Deep History of Ourselves: The Four-Billion-Year Story of How We Got Conscious Brains (2019), Anxious: Using the Brain to Understand and Treat Fear and Anxiety (2016), Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are (2003), and The Emotional Brain (1996)

Leading on the Edge and Finding Your Purpose

Robyn R. Jackson, PhD

CEO, Mindsteps Inc.; Middle School Administrator; Former Teacher and Instructional Coach; Author, Stop Leading, Start Building!: Turn Your School into a Success Story with the People and Resources You Already Have (Forthcoming, 2021), "Making Every Teacher a Master Teacher" (2019, Educational Leadership), Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching (1018, 2nd Edition), Never Underestimate Your Teachers: Instructional Leadership for Excellence in Every Classroom (2013)

A Nuanced View of Curiosity: Managing the Anxiety of Confronting the New

Todd B. Kashdan, PhD

Senior Scientist, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being; Professor, Department of Psychology, George Mason University; Winner of the American Psychological Association's Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology; Co-Author, “Meaning in Life Buffers the Impact of Experiential Avoidance on Anxiety” (2020, Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science), “Buffering the Negative Impact of Poverty of Youth: The Power of Purpose in Life” (2016, Social Indicators Research), The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self – Not Just Your “Good Self” – Drives Success and Fulfillment (2014), and Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life (2009)

The Power of Meaning

Emily Esfahani Smith, MA

Doctoral Student in Clinical Psychology at Catholic University; Instructor in Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania; Author of the book, The Power of Meaning (2017), which was an international bestseller that has been translated into 16 languages; Journalist and Writer on psychology and culture whose articles have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic; Former Managing Editor of The New Criterion; Presenter who delivered a popular TED talk in 2017 called “There’s More to Life Than Being Happy”