Decatur Elementary



RULER Approach to Social Emotional Learning

Emotional Intelligence refers to:

R ecognizing emotions in self and others.
U nderstanding the causes and consequences of emotions.
L abeling emotions accurately.
E xpressing emotions appropriately.
R egulating emotions effectively.

RULER at Yale

Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence

The research team at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence uses rigorous methodologies to better understand how emotions matter in the lives of individuals and institutions. The Center– previously the Health, Emotion, and Behavior Laboratory – has been conducting innovative research on emotions since the late 1980’s, a time when scientists were primarily concerned with cognition and viewed emotions as a distraction. The Center’s work diverged from mainstream views by asserting that emotions matter in positive ways. Rather than derailing cognitive processes, this work proposed, emotions can enhance them and predict important outcomes in their own right. In fact, our emotional systems are essential to who we are and have undeniable implications for our ability to navigate life.


Emotions Matter. Emotions drive learning, decision-making,creativity, relationships, and health. The Yale Center for EmotionalIntelligence uses the power of emotions to create a more effective andcompassionate society. The Center conducts research and teaches peopleof all ages how to develop their emotional intelligence.

The Anchors of Emotional Intelligence

The Anchors of Emotional Intelligence are evidence-based toolsdesigned to enhance the emotional intelligence of school leaders, teachers and staff, and students and their families. RULER includes four primary tools: the Charter, Mood Meter, Meta-Moment, and Blueprint. Each is based on scientific research and helps children and adults develop their emotional intelligence skills.

There are 4 Anchors which we use in RULER; the Charter, the MoodMeter, the Meta-Moment, and the Blueprint. Each serves an important part of the puzzle towards building Emotional Intelligence.

The Charter is a living document that gives the students and staff a voice in how they want to feel throughout the year. Each year the classroom and our staff identifies the feelings they want when at school, how they are going to ensure they happen, and what they’ll do if they don’t feel that way. The Charter provides a chance for groups to build consensus around the way they want to feel, it is not a list of rules but a proclamation for how the groups wants to function. It is modified throughout the year as the class changes and grows.

The Mood Meter is a tool that helps us recognize and label our emotions. The Mood-Meter is a graph where the x-axis is how pleasant we’re feeling and the y-axis is our energy level. So when we’re high energy and feeling pleasant we’re in the yellow, when we’re low energy and feeling unpleasant we’re in the blue. Students plot themselves throughout the day to help them recognize how they’re feeling. This is great time for the teacher to be able to check in with students as well, as is can clue the teacher in to anyone who is upset, anxious or frustrated. Where would you plot yourself? There’s an app for that! On both Android and Apple devices.

The Meta-Moment is a tool to help us learn what to do when we are triggered by something. We learn recognize how our body is reacting (physiological response), to stop, think about our “Best Self”, and then find a strategy that can help us. Have you asked your child what their “Best Self” is? It doesn’t have to be static, if they say they can’t remember what they wrote in class, they can think of new words to describe themselves.

The Blueprint is a tool that helps us resolve conflict. We can use it after a conflict has occurred and we want to work through and try and understand more about why it happened. We can also use it proactively; when we know we have something coming up that might cause us stress or anxiety. Thinking through the questions can help us be better prepared to handle the situations well. The Blueprint is a tool that also helpsbuildempathy as it asks you to think about how the other person felt duringthe encounter. Are there times in your day that maybe a Blueprint would help resolve any conflicts?

Additional Resources and Links

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is the nation’s leading organization advancing the development of academic, social and emotional competence for all students. Our mission is to help make evidence-based social and emotional learning an integral part of education from preschool through high school. Through research, practice and policy, CASEL collaborates to ensure all students become knowledgeable, responsible, caring and contributing members of society.

Second Step: Social Skills for Early Childhood–Grade 8

We create research-based social-emotional learning materials to help children succeed in school and in life. We are a nonprofit. And we’re helping create a world in which children can grow up to be peaceful, kind, responsible citizens.

Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted

SENG’s mission is to empower families and communities to guide gifted and talented individuals to reach their goals: intellectually,physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

In the News

Bellevue Schools Teach Emotional Smarts – Seattle Times

“Studies have shown that students in RULER schools are less anxious, better behaved, more attentive and more independent — with greater leadership skills.”, says the Seattle Times in an article discussing the current implementation of the RULER method in the Bellevue public elementary schools.

Additional Reading and Research

Books by Marc Brackett, Ph.D.

Marc Brackett is the author, co-author, and editor of over 100 scholarly publications and the developer of two university courses on Emotional Intelligence—one for undergraduates at Yale University and one for educators at Teachers College, Columbia University (co-developed with Robin Stern). His research focuses on the role of emotional intelligence in learning, decision making, relationship quality, and mental health; the measurement of emotional intelligence, best practices for bringing emotional intelligence into large organizations, and the influences of emotional intelligence training on student and educator effectiveness, bullying prevention, and school climate.

Books by Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.

Daniel Goleman is an internationally known psychologist who lectures frequently to professional groups, business audiences, and on college campuses. As a science journalist Goleman reported on the brain and behavioral sciences for The New York Times for many years. Apart from his books on emotional intelligence, Goleman has written books on topics including self-deception, creativity, transparency, meditation, social and emotional learning, eco-literacy and the ecological crisis. Goleman is a co-founder of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (, originally at the Yale Child Studies Center and now at the University of Illinois at Chicago. CASEL’s mission centers on bringing evidence-based programs in emotional literacy to schools worldwide.

How We Learn – video lectures

Learning is a lifelong adventure. It starts in your mother’s womb, accelerates to high speed in infancy and childhood, and continuest hrough every age, whether you’re actively engaged in mastering a new skill, intuitively discovering an unfamiliar place, or just sleeping,which is fundamental to helping you consolidate and hold on to what you’ve learned. You are truly born to learn around the clock.

How to Become a SuperStar Student – video lectures

The number one problem facing many high-school students: They haven’t been taught how to learn. Because our current educational system focuses on test results, on making sure students memorize the facts and material needed to pass standardized tests, few students are deliberately taught about learning — about developing the particular mind-set and using the specific skills that can help them graduate with exemplary grades and an exemplary mind.

Art of Teaching: Best Practices from a Master Educator – video lectures

Teaching is more than a job. It’s a responsibility —one of the greatest responsibilities in civilized society. Teachers lay bare the mysteries of the world to us. They train our minds to explore, to question, to investigate, to discover. They ensure that knowledge is not lost or forgotten but is instead passed on to future generations. And they shape our lives in limitless ways, both inside and outside of theclassroom.