By Saatchi Kalsi
Although society has traditionally favored a high IQ over a high EQ (emotional intelligence quota), experts believe that the latter can significantly improve a person’s quality of life. At the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, researchers have devised a way to begin this education as early as possible through RULER, an evidence-based approach to integrating social and emotional learning into schools.
Yale professor Marc Brackett, the founder of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, co-developed RULER, which stands for the five learnable skills of emotional intelligence: Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, and Regulating emotion.
Thousands of schools across the United States and around the world have adopted RULER. In Mexico, 37 PrepaTec high schools, an offshoot of Yale’s partner Tecnológico de Monterrey, have integrated RULER’s teachings into their curriculum and culture since 2016.
After visiting the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and various RULER schools in New York, PrepaTec decided that Yale was the best strategic partner on the science of teaching emotional intelligence.
In order to deliver consistent emotional education to students, RULER first focuses on enhancing the emotional intelligence of adults in the school system, including administrators, tutors, teachers, staff, and parents, through in-person training and online workshops. RULER makes use of four primary tools: Charter, Mood Meter, Meta-Moment, and Blueprint.
The Charter is a collaborative document that details how members of the community aspire to treat each other. The Mood Meter enables students and educators to identify the full range of their emotions and assess how these emotions may affect their actions. The Meta-Moment helps RULER participants handle strong emotions with their “best selves” in mind. The Blueprint aids students and teachers in tackling conflict effectively. When implemented together, says Brackett, these tools help everyone within the school community understand the value of emotions, build the emotional intelligence of individuals within the community, and create positive emotional climates in and out of school.
Creating a “positive emotional climate” results in enhanced academic performance, social skills, leadership skills, and attention, coupled with decreased anxiety, depression, rates of bullying, teacher burnout, and teacher negativity, said Brackett, noting that at a time when students put tremendous pressure on themselves, RULER helps a community to reorient its priorities.
“Our work is about preserving what it is to be human: experiencing emotions, being present, interacting socially. Although boosting academic performance can be seen as RULER’s most tangible and coveted outcome, that part happens naturally when students are more aware of their emotions, can communicate about them more clearly, and have strategies for regulating them effectively,” said Brackett.
“Education must transcend academic spheres. It must focus on obtaining knowledge that can be applied in all domains of life,” added Dr. Ruth Castillo Gualda, a collaborator with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and the official RULER trainer and coach for PrepaTec.
Researchers at Tec de Monterrey and Yale have conducted studies about the efficacy of RULER at PrepaTec. “We have surveyed PrepaTec twice a year in 2016 and 2017, and again in May of 2018. We are still working through the results, but we have seen shifts in how teachers and students are feeling, reduced teacher burnout, and high student satisfaction with school,’ said Jessica Hoffman, an associate research scientist at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and the director of High School RULER.
“With RULER you can reach the hearts of people, helping them to observe themselves, understand each other and act accordingly to achieve what they are thinking. We feel proud of our teamwork results,” said Nayeli Rodriquez, director of development and tutoring at PrepaTec Esmeralda.
RULER high school teacher instructing classroom on the Mood Meter.
The entire PrepaTec community has embraced RULER as the lynchpin of its curriculum, and has introduced its own innovations. “We are incredibly proud of the 37 Tec de Monterrey schools that are taking the RULER approach in directions we’ve only dreamed of,” said Brackett.
Last March, the 37 PrepaTec schools celebrated “RULER day” for the first time. Around 25,780 students and 2,800 teachers and staff took steps to acknowledge the influence of emotions in their lives and to develop self-awareness.
Student testimonies about the event were enthusiastic.
“This should be done more often for everyone,” said one student from PrepaTec’s Santa Catarina campus.
Another student from the Tampico campus described feeling “liberated” while bursting balloons attached to a giant mood meter.
Yale’s relationship with Tecnológico de Monterrey continues to deepen. Learn more about a 2018 visit to Yale by 30 Tecnológico de Monterrey students.