This is our second year integrating RULER — an evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning (SEL) developed at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence that supports the community in terms of understanding the value of emotions, building the skills of emotional intelligence, and helping support a positive school climate. Each letter in RULER stands for the five skills of emotional intelligence.
Each September, Lower School students spend hours with their teachers to establish the routines needed to help make their year a successful one. With class rules comfortably established, students are now turning to the creation of their classroom charters!
The Classroom Charter is a critical tool of Yale’s RULER approach to emotional intelligence. Each classroom begins by asking this question: How do I need to feel in order to thrive at school? Safe? Encouraged? Included? Joyful? Students diligently work to identify the feelings they want to feel in their classrooms. The list starts out quite long, but after much defining and discussing, five or six of the most important feeling words are agreed upon by the entire class.
The next step is for students to consider the kind of behavior and language that needs to happen in order for them to feel that emotion. For example, in order to feel included, my classmates would invite me to play. The process itself is significant; it makes explicit the needs we all have while helping students understand the impact of their actions and words.
The charter becomes a record we can refer back to in an unhappy time. A classmate may explain it this way: “I didn’t feel valued because you laughed at my mistake.” Throughout October, charters are being fine-tuned in every classroom and will be shared at the next few assemblies, which we hold each Friday. RULER training continues over the course of the year. Grade-specific lessons on emotion vocabulary and how we use the Mood Meter (another important RULER tool) will come next!