By Principal Katie May
In fall 2015, Thurgood Marshall adopted RULER, a program that helps students recognize emotions in themselves and others, label and express emotions appropriately, and self-regulate their emotions. We rolled out the program by creating a staff charter and classroom charters with the students in every classroom. Our charters are statements of how we want to feel at school and what we will do to be sure we all feel that way. They vary somewhat from class to class, but most have elements of feeling safe, supported, and that we belong.
We are choosing to spend a significant amount of instructional time on the RULER program, because research tells us that emotions influence every part of everyday life, including:
- Attention, memory and learning
- Decision-making and judgment
- Relationship quality
- Physical and mental health
- Everyday effectiveness and performance
The more effectively students can manage their emotions, the more successful they will be in every aspect of life.
The next phase of the RULER program introduced the Mood Meter. The Mood Meter is a tool that has four quadrants to help students measure how they are feeling in terms of pleasant vs. unpleasant, and low vs. high energy. The Mood Meter builds social-emotional awareness, sharpens vocabulary about feelings, and at the highest level, prompts thinking about the type of environments our classrooms should be.
The RULER program recognizes that emotions play a role in the classroom. To learn effectively, students need to take ownership of their feelings. Teachers need to deal with their emotions before they enter the classroom, and we all need to recognize that emotions must be considered in designing instruction. The more congruent a lesson is with the feeling underneath it, the more it will resonate with students. For example, if we want students to know what it felt like to take part in the Boston Tea Party, what can we do to help to create that feeling for them? Connecting feelings with instruction helps students engage more deeply with the content.
The author of RULER is Mark Brackett, Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. More about RULER at: http://ei.yale.edu/ruler/ruler-overview/. Brackett also is collaborating with Facebook on inspirED.facebook.com, to support emotion management by connecting users to activities to support various feelings.