EDU 6526: RULER – A Social-Emotional Form of Moral Education

At the school in which I currently work, as with the entire Seattle Public School district, a significant effort has been made in the last couple of years towards moral education and citizenship development. This effort has been focused through a social-emotional curriculum called RULER, developed by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. RULER aims to help individuals identify and navigate their own emotions, and through such processing, form stronger group bonds and cooperative learning skills. According to RULER, “Emotions drive learning, decision-making, creativity, relationships, and health. The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence uses the power of emotions to create a more effective and compassionate society” (http://ei.yale.edu/ruler/).

RULER is comprised of four central components, called ‘emotional anchors’. They are Charter, Mood Meter, Meta Moment and Blueprint. Throughout the year, students move through the use of each element, and gradually build their skills in coping with emotions and emotional situations.

First Grade Charter

Figure 1: Charter from a First Grade Classroom at Cascade Elementary (Teacher: Crystalyn Burke)

At the beginning of the school year, classes create their own Charters, or plans for how their learning community is to function. With many tweaks for individualism and unique classroom goals, these charters almost always include promises to care for each other, expect greatness of each other, and respect the learning processes of each individual (see Figure 1). In this way, students are taught the value of the social group, and the importance of cooperation and respect in all endeavors – very moral foundations.

Mood Meter poster

Figure 2: The Mood Meter

 

 

 

 

 

Moving further through the school year, students learn to use the Mood Meter to identify and chart their emotions into a quadratic graph ranging from “low energy/low pleasantness” to “high energy/high pleasantness” (see Figure 2).

 

 

With Meta Moment, students practice very concrete steps for working through highly emotional situations towards self-regulation and control (see Figure 3). Finally, Blueprint provides a flexible script and common language for working through conflict (see Figure 4) – a process which can be adapted to any developmental level.

Meta Moment poster (horizontal)

Figure 3: Meta Moment Poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blueprint Poster

Figure 4: Blueprint (for conflict resolution)

 

 

 

In my short time working with RULER, I am very impressed by its effect on students’ self-awareness and coping abilities. I have worked in many child-based environments, and never before have I seen children who are more in touch with their own emotions, and the effect of those emotions on their own learning, as well as that of their peers and teachers. The students at my school seem to be more compassionate towards each other than many other groups, even going so far as to form “Recess Rangers” – a voluntary group of students who dedicate themselves to making sure everyone is involved and playing at recess who wants to be, and no one feels isolated or “bullied.” I understand that in a culture of high-stakes testing and accountability, with never enough time to complete the basic academic components of education, moral formation can often fall by the wayside. But I am impressed with the simplicity and ease with which RULER fits into a school climate, and I recommend it for any educators looking to cultivate a more moral, citizenship-based curriculum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my short time working with RULER, I am very impressed by its effect on students’ self-awareness and coping abilities. I have worked in many child-based environments, and never before have I seen children who are more in touch with their own emotions, and the effect of those emotions on their own learning, as well as that of their peers and teachers. The students at my school seem to be more compassionate towards each other than many other groups, even going so far as to form “Recess Rangers” – a voluntary group of students who dedicate themselves to making sure everyone is involved and playing at recess who wants to be, and no one feels isolated or “bullied.” I understand that in a culture of high-stakes testing and accountability, with never enough time to complete the basic academic components of education, moral formation can often fall by the wayside. But I am impressed with the simplicity and ease with which RULER fits into a school climate, and I recommend it for any educators looking to cultivate a more moral, citizenship-based curriculum.

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