Center Announcements

Dena Simmons Named Arthur Vining Davis Aspen Fellow

Dena Simmons Named Arthur Vining Davis Aspen Fellow

Dena Simmons, Ed.D.,the Director of School Initiatives at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence has been selected as an Arthur Vining Davis Aspen Fellow for the 2015 Aspen Ideas Festival (AIF). The Fellows were selected for the inaugural class from a competitive field of national nominees who are emerging leaders with diverse backgrounds and who represent the entrepreneurial spirit, intellectual curiosity, and leadership qualities of Mr. Arthur Vining Davis, the longtime CEO of the Alcoa Corporation. Since 2005, the Aspen Ideas Festival has been the nation’s premier convening for leaders to engage in deep and inquisitive consideration of ideas and issues that shape our lives and challenge our times. Similarly, for nearly 65 years, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations have provided philanthropy across America to higher education; medicine and healthcare; theological education and religious pluralism; public educational television for children and historical and scientific documentaries for national distribution through PBS and other producers of film. Through funding provided by the Board of Trustees of the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, the Aspen AVDF Fellows will have the opportunity to network with other Festival attendees, including more than 400 thought leaders in science, health, business, politics, religion, technology, the arts, the environment and academia. The Fellows’ presence will enrich the Ideas Festival and their insight will then inform the philanthropic plans and priorities of the Foundations in the coming years. “I am so grateful to have been nominated and selected for this wonderful fellowship and to be among such inspiring thinkers, doers, and shakers. I look forward to learning and building collaboratively with participants at the Aspen Ideas Festival. I am also excited to share our work at the Center and the urgency to create more emotionally intelligent educational spaces so that all people have access to a safe place to learn and to flourish.” The Festival, which will be held June 25 through July 4 in Aspen, Colorado, is a week-long program of discussions, seminars, panels, and tutorials from journalists, designers, innovators, politicians, diplomats, presidents, judges, musicians, artists, and writers. This year’s theme is Smart Solutions to the World’s Toughest 

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Preschool RULER: The Mood Meter in Early Childhood Classrooms

Preschool RULER: The Mood Meter in Early Childhood Classrooms

Preschool RULER was developed at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence as a way to teach emotional intelligence to our youngest learners. This video provides a glance at how one of the RULER tools – the Mood Meter – is integrated in early childhood classrooms. 

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The Center Undergrads

The Center Undergrads

At Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, undergraduates play a critical role, contributing to a variety of Center initiatives in exchange for structured research opportunities. In addition to conducting literature reviews, recruiting schools for research participation, creating surveys and focus group protocols, cleaning and analyzing data, and writing briefs and academic papers, the undergraduates bring fresh perspectives on emotional intelligence to the Center. As the 2014-15 academic year comes to a close, the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence would like to recognize three undergraduates for their hard work and their contributions to the study of emotional intelligence. Christina (Chrissy) Bradley is a psychology major currently wrapping up her junior year at Yale. She worked closely with the Center over the past year to administer a survey to Year 7 students at the Girton Grammar School in Victoria, Australia. By comparing survey results from students trained with RULER with new students unfamiliar with emotional intelligence, Chrissy investigated whether a school-wide social and emotional learning approach might help adolescents to transition smoothly between schools and develop more positive relationships. Chrissy has always been intrigued by how people relate to one another, but she didn’t develop an interest in emotional intelligence until she took Intro to Psychology as a Yale freshman. That evolved into a summer internship at the Center, which blossomed this year into a full-fledged research project. This summer, Chrissy will attend a meditation retreat in France, then study in Prague. She hopes to one day translate her experience at the Center into a graduate degree. She would like to continue to explore the connection between emotional intelligence and friendships. Franklyn Zhu is a sophomore at Yale (class of 2017) double-majoring in computer science and psychology. Over the course of the past year, Franklyn has helped the Center to develop a new measure for emotional intelligence that improves on established methods while simultaneously measuring and accounting for new variables.  Originally from Beijing, Franklyn became interested in emotional intelligence and psychology out of a desire to better understand himself. The Center’s work resonated with Franklyn’s interest in real-world applications of psychological research. As he continues his studies, Franklyn hopes to continue to broaden his understanding of emotional intelligence testing, and to seek out answers to meaningful questions about EQ. This summer, Franklyn will be in New Haven to continue his work with the Center. He also hopes to become better-versed in statistics. Gabby Zamora is a Yale senior. She will graduate this spring with a degree in psychology. With a background in the visual arts, Gabby was drawn to the Emotion, Creativity, and the Arts component of the Center’s research. A firm believer that the arts and creativity are essential to learning, Gabby got involved with the Center to explore ways to harness the arts to promote student success in the classroom. Gabby’s research project, entitled “How do High School Students Experience Academic and Creative Challenges,” sought to compare the content of academic and creative challenges, the motivational values associated with those challenges, and students’ ability to persist. Gabby will graduate from Yale this spring. She plans to apply the skills she’s developed as a Psychology major to her new job with a consumer research-driven advertising agency in Atlanta. 

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Got Grit?

Got Grit?

As a Black girl growing up in poverty, getting to and from school was an act of courage, an act of resilience. On my way, I passed drug-dealing and street-harassing men. I passed candlelit memorials in front of brick buildings for those lost too young—reminders of the violence that colonized my city block. I passed hard-working men and women, mostly immigrants like my mother, who struggled to provide their children with better lives despite the systemic injustice that kept them marginalized and voiceless. Yet, in many ways, school was my salvation. I excelled in school because I had to. It was my ticket to a better life. It was there where I found my passion to be a lifelong learner and educator, where I persevered despite the obstacles, where I was grittiest. I cannot speak about grit, which can be defined as passion and perseverance for long-term goals, without referring to the many ways I have had to be gritty to get to where I am today. As a panelist for the discussion “Got Grit? Examining Links Between Non-Cognitive Skills and Academic Achievement,” at the Education Leadership Conference organized by Yale’s School of Management, I spoke of those experiences as a student—and later as a middle school teacher—in the Bronx. At that conference, panelists and participants explored the relationship between grit and academic achievement and discussed ways to teach grit in our nation’s classrooms. Importantly, we also discussed the dangers of being too narrowly focused on grit, as well as other tensions associated with grit. For example: Is teaching character skills going to solve the problems of low-income students of color? Do we want gritty youth who lack emotional intelligence skills? How do we support a child who is gritty but does not experience success? How do we guide a student who is gritty but lacks the metacognitive awareness to determine that they are not so good at something? How do we teach youth to experience failure if we are teaching them to be gritty? These questions mark the beginning of an ongoing and necessary discourse about grit and pedagogy. Yet, as we learn more, it is important to realize that grit is only part of the equation. What is grit in the absence of compassion, kindness, and emotional intelligence? What are we not focusing on when we focus on grit? Should we concentrate our efforts and mental capacities more on shifting the unjust system that requires that some youth be grittier than others just to make it to high school—or simply to their eighteenth birthdays? In sum, in any discussion about education, particularly education reform efforts, it is important to ask ourselves: education reform for whom? We cannot speak about opportunity and achievement gaps without a nuanced discourse of the history of white supremacy in our nation. When we begin to break down the barriers and bring humanity and culturally responsive and student-centered pedagogy back into our schools, we might see some improvement—even if just a little—in our educational system. We just have to be gritty, persevering at whatever costs to ensure that all youth, gritty or not, have the opportunity to be successful in school and in life.    Dena Simmons, Associate Director of School Initiatives                 

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Preschool RULER: Promoting Emotional Intelligence In Early Childhood

Preschool RULER: Promoting Emotional Intelligence In Early Childhood

Preschool RULER was created by a partnership between the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and Childcare Learning Centers (CLC) in Stamford, CT. Supported by funding from the Institute of Education Sciences, the Preschool RULER team worked closely with CLC educators to develop an evidence-based program to promote emotional intelligence in preschoolers and the adults in their lives. As with RULER for the later grades, Preschool RULER provides strategies that help educators create emotionally supportive environments. Through professional development workshops and coaching, educators learn not only how to model and teach emotional intelligence, but also ways to embed emotional intelligence in curricula. Learning can take place throughout the school day in both formal and informal ways, including during small or large group time, read-alouds, music and movement, snack and meal times, and transitions between activities. Educators report that Preschool RULER professional development workshops are fun, informative, and engaging. Here’s what some are saying: “It is a great topic for early childhood teachers. We need this!” “I found the workshop extremely relevant and useful to my teaching and am very excited to bring it back to the classroom. “I enjoyed learning about RULER. I can use this, not only at school, but at home with my kids.” A pilot test of Preschool RULER conducted at CLC found that, regardless of race, gender, age, and language, children could learn to effectively recognize and label their own feelings using the signature RULER tool, the Mood Meter. At a center in its second year of Preschool RULER implementation, children made significant gains in emotional intelligence above and beyond those in a control school. Educators involved in the pilot study report that Preschool RULER leads to a better classroom emotional climate and better teacher-child and peer interactions: “I feel overall the classroom is calmer!” “Children are better able to express their feelings to teachers and peers.” “When a child is angry, the other children remind them how to calm down and think of a solution.” When reflecting upon the effects of RULER on their own emotional intelligence, educators report: “I think more about my feelings and how my feelings affect others.” “I now recognize how to control my feelings in the classroom and relate them to children. “I understand and respect more the people around me.” “I am able to see my best self.” Watch Preschool RULER in action at CLC!   Spotlight on a Preschool RULER school At Friends Center for Children in New Haven, CT, RULER is woven into the fabric of the school’s culture and community. When arriving at Friends Center, teachers, children, family members, and guests are welcomed by the Mood Meter, the signature RULER Anchor Tool, which guides children and adults through a check-in to identify how they are currently feeling. This exercise promotes emotion recognition and labeling skills. The Mood Meter is also an integral part of classroom routines, including circle time, read-alouds, drop-off and pick-up times, and transitions from one activity to another. Also at the school entrance is the Center Charter, an agreement created by the staff outlining the emotions they would like to feel at school each day. The Charter details what staff will do to promote these feelings in one another and how they propose to manage uncomfortable feelings or conflict. Friends Center educators report that the Center Charter fosters an emotionally safe and supportive school climate and reflects the school’s values. Educators at Friends Center have also developed creative ways to highlight the emotions included in their Center Charter. Teachers even post RULER-inspired classroom artwork and calming imagery in staff restrooms. These pleasant reminders promote personal emotion 

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Treat Yourself and Your Students To Positive Interactions on Valentine’s Day

Treat Yourself and Your Students To Positive Interactions on Valentine’s Day

For many of us, Valentine’s Day conjures up childhood memories of gluing glitter to construction paper, eating pink-frosted cupcakes, and exchanging conversation hearts. In middle and high school, the holiday may have brought chocolates from a boyfriend, a gushy note from a secret admirer, or just eye rolls. Though it feels different depending on our ages, the focus on relationships on Valentine’s Day will likely never change. With the season’s heart-shaped decorations as a reminder, educators can use February 14 to focus on relationships in school. There’s a simple strategy adults and kids can use to enjoy more positive, productive communications in our hallways, cafeterias, and classrooms: vent less and focus more on solutions. Venting can feel good. But it backfires by actually making us more angry and negative about the situation we’re complaining about. Researchers find that it raises the likelihood that we will retaliate against others, lowers our self-esteem, and decreases our ability to negotiate and solve problems. It’s not that we should never voice honest negative thoughts and feelings, but constant harping is a downer, and it can be damaging. People express the most negativity not to casual acquaintances but those they see on a daily basis. That can sour those relationships. “Time is precious. Focus on the solution, not the problem.” ~ Author unknown It makes sense. Why not spend school time overcoming our challenges and celebrating our successes rather than complaining for the sake of complaining? Here are some tips to share at school that can help us vent less and problem-solve more. Set a good example. Emotions are contagious. You can choose to play “misery poker” in the faculty lounge or hallways, always trying to trump the complaints of others with your own stories. Students may do the same with their friends between classes or in the school cafeteria. Or we all can choose to smile, laugh, or reframe a bad situation into a funny story. Let’s challenge ourselves to exemplify warmth and positive problem-solving. Hold your tongue. Your car didn’t start. You were almost late for first period. Your students were inattentive and unruly all morning. You pull your preschool son’s mistakenly-grabbed lunch sack out of the staff fridge. How to cope with all these annoyances? You could unload on a colleague the moment he or she walks into the faculty lounge. Alternatively, you could focus on the good stuff that happened today: an award one of your students won or the praise you overheard for the committee the colleague leads. Likewise, if someone begins to complain and waits for you to chime in, acknowledge his or her feelings, but resist the urge to fuel the negativity. We can challenge students, too, to share success stories instead of complaints, to ask about their friends’ accomplishments instead of their frustrations, and to keep the miserable “inside voice” inside. Brainstorm ideas. When you feel livid after a staff meeting or when your student finds out he or she bombed a test or didn’t make the team, you can each take a moment to regroup. Then it’s time for finding ideas about how to turn things around. Ask yourself or your student: Is there something you could do to handle a similar situation better? What can you do right now? Maybe you can schedule a meeting with the principal to discuss the issue from the meeting that bothered you. Maybe your student can join a study group or create a sports practice schedule to boost the chances of making the team next year. Focusing on solutions can help fix the problems at hand and prevent 

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In Remembrance of our Friend and Colleague Stuart Sears

In Remembrance of our Friend and Colleague Stuart Sears

It is so hard to believe we are saying goodbye to Stuart. We imagine him reading this article in his honor. He would be filled with gratitude and humility, and he would laugh and make witty comments as he read. Many have had the privilege of knowing Stuart; some of us for over 10 years. He was our beloved friend and close colleague. Already, we deeply feel his absence and miss him. Stuart worked with RULER and The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence as a leadership coach over the last ten years. In these years, he guided many school leaders through challenges and hard times. More recently, Stuart was a senior trainer and coach with us. No matter how he felt physically, he appeared at our meetings and trainings with smiles and jokes. Few knew that he struggled to stand or walk; he never let on how much effort it took to manage his pain. In his many years as an educator, students loved Stuart because he met them where they were. He listened intently and created a safe space where they could discuss anything. He addressed concerns tenderly and playfully with colorful stories, wisdom, and humor. Stuart worked extensively in developing leaders from all walks of life–from his earlier work in community conflict mediation, to his work with New York City’s Executive Leadership Institute, to the multitude of schools and organizations who sought him out to manage difficult leadership situations. As a highly skilled presenter, Stuart made his audience feel supported, fixated on his wide smile and shining blue eyes. When he spoke about leadership topics, he would mention brain research and other scientific articles he had read. He often referenced the cliché of “lifelong learner” and made the term a reality for himself and others. He truly made learning come alive with his knowledge, charm, and wit. Stuart also had a way of looking right through you. No matter what you were grappling with, when he looked at you, you knew that he understood. In his last few months of fighting his cancer, Stuart adopted an attitude of deep acceptance of the things you cannot change and of the importance of igniting more emotional fire on the things you do have the power to change. His most recent project with us was coaching principals in Bridgeport, Connecticut schools. The principals he coached were devastated to learn of his passing, commenting that he was caring, generous, and practical in his approach. He was a gifted and charismatic presenter, teacher, facilitator and coach. He taught through his many stories, including terrific tales about the emotional intelligence of his beautiful girls– he was so proud of them! We loved Stuart and will miss his ideas, his character, and his warm presence. His contributions to our work and to our lives will be with us forever. Rest in peace Stuart, and keep a watchful eye on all you love. On life’s journey Faith is nourishment, Virtuous deeds are a shelter, Wisdom is the light by day and Right mindfulness is the protection by night. If a man lives a pure life nothing can destroy him; Nothing can limit his freedom. ~ 

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New Postdoctoral Research Associates

In 2014, the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence welcomed four new full-time postdoctoral research associates: Monika Lohani, Tia Barnes, Craig Bailey, and Dan Cordaro. Each brings a unique background and research perspective to the study of emotional intelligence. Monika Lohani earned her M.A. in cognitive science from the Center of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences in India, then she completed an additional M.A. and a Ph.D. in social and developmental psychology from Brandeis University in 2008. Originally from Lucknow India, Monika first developed an interest in better understanding emotions while working as an undergraduate counselor trainee in a cardiovascular rehabilitation hospital. Intrigued by the wide range of emotional skills displayed by both doctors and patients as they faced distressing situations, she was inspired to study best practices for managing socially awkward or emotionally challenging circumstances. As a member of the Center’s Innovations research team, Monika is working on several projects that explore whether virtual interactions can be used to teach emotional intelligence skills and whether a computer can play the role of an empathetic partner. With the aid of psychophysiological measures and other methods of assessing emotional responses, she hopes to create a scalable model that would allow for the teaching of emotional intelligence skills in a variety of settings. Monika is also interested in yoga and meditation as a potential form of emotional research. She hopes to develop interventions incorporating meditation techniques that can be used to teach emotional intelligence. When she is able, she likes to spend time with her husband, a cognitive aging Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Illinois.   Born in Jamaica and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Tia Barnes first developed an interest in human emotions while taking psychology courses in high school. She majored in psychology at the University of Florida, where she also earned her Ph.D. in special education in 2013. Much of Tia’s graduate education involved working in special-needs classrooms with students with emotional behavior disorders. It was in the classroom that Tia developed a passion for better understanding the relationships and dynamics between behavior and learning. At the Center, Tia is working on modifying school curriculums so that they are more culturally relevant and accessible to children with emotional behavior disorders. On her own time, Tia is looking for a book club in New Haven. Having never lived somewhere this cold, she is eagerly awaiting her first real winter snowfall.   Hailing from South Dakota, Craig Bailey has long had an interest in early childhood education and applied developmental psychology. Craig was an early childhood educator while earning his undergraduate degree at South Dakota State University. Fascinated by the interactions he was seeing in his classroom, both teacher-student and child-child, Craig pursued his Ph.D. at George Mason University to better understand preschoolers’ emotional development and the importance of teachers and classroom context. At the Center, Craig is a member of the Preschool RULER team.  He is also working to develop a systematic approach to observe emotionally intelligent pedagogy that will determine the practices that are best suited to create an emotionally safe and supportive classroom climate and more emotionally intelligent teachers and children.  Outside of work, Craig lives with his wife and new baby in New Haven. In his scant free time, Craig enjoys nature and hiking.   Dan Cordaro formally joined the Center in autumn 2014 after working with Marc Brackett for two years to better understand universal human expressions of emotion. Originally from Scranton, PA, Dan earned his undergraduate degree from Ithaca College in organic chemistry, then a master’s in organic chemistry and a Ph.D. in emotion psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. He then 

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Dr. King Still Inspires: Transforming Anger Into Action

Dr. King Still Inspires: Transforming Anger Into Action

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. ~Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Rafael Ramos. Wenjian Liu. These names, just four among numerous civilians and police violently slain in the United States in recent months, have provoked anger, fear, anxiety, and despair across the country. Some people rage blindly, failing to see the “other side” as fully human. Yet tens of thousands more have transformed their anger into peaceful protest as they demand justice and stand up for humanity. Such emotional alchemy was part of the life’s work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the legendary civil rights leader who led black and whites infuriated by racist laws and customs to transform the United States through nonviolent means. The ability to transform injustice-fueled anger into peaceful, constructive action is the essence of emotional intelligence, and it is just as necessary today as it was in Dr. King’s time. Indeed, it is at times like these that we at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence feel most keenly the urgency of the work we do. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. ~Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Center helps people build effective emotion-regulation strategies, equipping them to transform powerful emotions like anger into action that targets unjust systems. Our personnel travel around the world empowering educators with tools to ensure our schools are not only physically but also emotionally safe spaces. We do this because we share Dr. King’s dream of a more just society, a place where all are safe regardless of skin color, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or body shape. With schools our training grounds, we work to equip educators and youth with the skills to recognize when someone else is upset so that they can offer a helping hand, to resolve conflict peacefully, to empathize with others–and to truly see other people. Emotions matter. Their power has been on full display in the streets, schools, and news lately. As readers reflect during Dr. King’s birthday on his work and legacy, we at the Center offer RULER, our approach to social and emotional learning, as a lens through which to examine the anger so many have felt in the past few months. RULER is an acronym that stands for the five essential skills of emotional intelligence. At the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, our hope is that the people of this country transform their anger at police-related deaths into action, driving out hatred with love and understanding, just as they did in Dr. King’s time. Explore the full range of emotions in this short animation.     Dena Simmons, Associate Director of School Initiatives     Lori Nathanson, Director of Research   

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Mood Meter Overview

Mood Meter Overview

When students experience a range of emotions, how does it impact how students think and what they do? Watch this animation to explore how emotions impact thoughts and behaviors in the classroom. Watch Video    

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Mood Meter App is “Next Big Thing” for 2015!

Mood Meter App is “Next Big Thing” for 2015!

The Mood Meter App has been recognized by the New York Observer as one of the Next Big Things in 2015! Full Article Here 

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Susan Rivers, Deputy Director, is Expert on NBC’s Parent Toolkit

Susan Rivers, Deputy Director, is Expert on NBC’s Parent Toolkit

NBC’s Parent Toolkit is a one-stop shop resource that was produced and developed with parents in mind. The Toolkit focuses on many aspects of child development, because it is all connected. Healthy, successful children can excel in many areas – in the classroom, on the court, and in their relationships with peers and adults. NBC worked with experts across the country including classroom teachers, college professors, pediatricians, dieticians, psychologists, and parents, to make the resource as robust and useful as possible. Susan Rivers, deputy director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence is now providing expert advice for the Parent Toolkit. 

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Meet Dena Simmons, our associate director of school initiatives

Meet Dena Simmons, our associate director of school initiatives

Dena Simmons, Ed.D., is the new associate director of school initiatives at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. She received her B.A. from Middlebury College, her M.S.Ed. from Pace University, and her M.A. and Ed.D. from Columbia University, Teachers College. Dena oversees training and coaching initiatives at the Center. Prior to her work at the Center, she served as an educator, teacher educator, diversity trainer, and curriculum developer. Dena’s primary research interest focuses on assessing teacher preparedness to address bullying in the K-12 school setting. Dena brings with her a wealth of knowledge on teacher education and pedagogy and has published several popular articles on teacher education, social justice pedagogy, education reform, and bullying. She has been invited to speak nationally, including this TEDx 

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Marc Brackett will give plenary talk at APA’s 2014 Annual Convention in August

Marc Brackett will give plenary talk at APA’s 2014 Annual Convention in August

Marc Brackett’s plenary talk, “Emotional Intelligence: Best Hope for Safe, Caring and Effective Schools” will take place at the American Psychological Association’s 2014 Annual Convention August 7-10. The 2014 APA Annual Convention will host hundreds of sessions on the full range of psychology topics, including over 200 sessions offering continuing education (CE) credit. Programs and sessions will cover issues such as health disparities, use of technology, violence, integrated health care, and clinical practice. For more details, please use this link. 

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It Was an Honor to Know You: A Loving Tribute to Uncle Marvin

It Was an Honor to Know You: A Loving Tribute to Uncle Marvin

This week marks the passing of an unsung hero in the field of emotional intelligence, Marvin Maurer. “Uncle Marvin,” as he was fondly known by most, was mentor and uncle to Marc Brackett, PhD, director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. The earliest seeds of an emotional curriculum sprouted, in part, from their longstanding relationship and their frequent conversations about feelings. Marvin was born in the Bronx, and as a young boy had vivid fantasies about a “bigger life”—as a leader, a star, or even a superhero. “I was extremely insecure,” he told Robin Stern, PhD, associate director at the Center, who interviewed him over the past year. “My confidence and my dreams were built in opposition to my insecurity. I would fantasize on a fairly regular basis and picture myself in successful venues.” Before there was a Mood Meter, Marvin knew how to shift his mood from the blue, to the green and yellow, and before there was the Meta Moment, Marvin was visualizing his best self. Marvin had a gift for music and wanted, more than anything, to play the trumpet. He remembered his trumpet teacher as his first real mentor and a model of what a great teacher could be. Marvin remembered, “He was gentle and kind and always tried to maximize my talent.” Marvin took his lessons in a small apartment that faced Grand Concourse in the Bronx. He remembered how he would knock on his teacher’s door—usually there was another student taking a lesson—and he would let himself in and start warming up. “Then, when the teacher was ready, I would sit down with my back was to the window and he would sit down next to me.” Marvin lovingly described a teacher who was deeply connected to his students: His teacher would compliment him, smile warmly, and give him helpful—and very specific—comments and strategies when his playing was “off.” He encouraged Marvin to be the best he could be. A few decades later, Marvin was an acclaimed trumpet player and consummate entertainer at the Stevensville Hotel in Swan Lake, New York, at a time when the resort was the vacation spot for big band music. He was band leader for every Monday Mambo Night, he sang, and he was famous for playing the trumpet with only one hand. Yet, according to his beloved wife Phyllis, “he never thought he was as good as other people thought he was, but he was very popular for so many years.” He loved music, and he “owned” the stage, smiling and greeting guests with a twinkle in his eye and a snappy comment. Tragically, a car accident made it impossible for Marvin to continue to play the trumpet, and so he turned his attention to education. He had strong ideas about teaching and what it meant to be a great teacher. He thought it was important for young people to know themselves as much as they would know their subjects, skills he thought were critical to developing one’s potential and to prevent “getting screwed up.” He began to connect the historical events in his lessons to students’ feelings about their own lives. He wanted children to feel what Roman leaders might have felt or the feelings scientists had while making new discoveries. He worked out an approach he called “Little People’s Feelings” which would later inspire RULER’s Feeling Words Curriculum. He told his wife Phyllis, “Just give me any child and I will help him to learn and to know himself.” Indeed, he reached hundreds of kids and ignited their flames of learning. Making curriculum emotionally 

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