Real Stories

High School Student, grade 11

High School Student, grade 11

“If I’m in a bad mood, I know I can’t really focus, but if I’m in a good mood, then I can focus and do well. Keeping track of my feelings with the Mood Meter helps me change my feelings for the better. I can figure out where I went wrong and think about what I could do to make my day more   read more

Assistant Principal, NYC Lab School

Assistant Principal, NYC Lab School

“The best thing RULER has brought to our school is a shared language. It’s helped to build a greater sense of community for our staff and students. A number of teachers who wouldn’t normally address students’ emotions in the classroom are now doing it, and it’s made them more reflective and thoughtful about students of concern. I think the school community been able to change because they have this shared language. It gives them an   read more

Elementary Student, age 7

Elementary Student, age 7

“I think RULER is really cool. When I’m not in a good mood, it can help me solve the problem. Like when my brother pushed sand on my sand castle and wouldn’t fix it. I felt really angry at him, but I took a meta-moment and realized it wasn’t hard to fix what he did and he didn’t do it on purpose. Then I felt a little more   read more

Back from the Brink: Emotional Intelligence Helps a Struggling School

Back from the Brink: Emotional Intelligence Helps a Struggling School

Morale was low at the struggling Montessori Magnet School. The state test scores at the Hartford, Connecticut public elementary school had declined so much that it had been ranked the district’s worst academic performer. Though the school was housed in a good building and was free from severe safety or discipline problems, teachers were finding it difficult to reconcile the school’s Montessori approach with test preparations. The faculty risked being fired and replaced. Tensions among staff members were leaking into classrooms. And parents were puzzled and angry about their children’s poor test scores. But four years later, the school was ranked number one in the district–and most teachers had kept their jobs. The school had adopted RULER, and the emotional intelligence training program became a cornerstone of the turnaround. “We had a staff filled with committed, hardworking people, including dedicated parents who cared about their child’s education,” says then-principal Melissa Gagne, who introduced RULER after joining the school midyear. “People just needed a direction.” Shortly after beginning her new job, Gagne attended a lecture by Marc Brackett, Ph.D., Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. It was then that she realized that the school needed a social and emotional turnaround first and foremost. “He’s an amazing presenter, and I was hooked,” she recalls. “I was convinced that this was exactly the turnaround that the school needed.” The school district soon gave Gagne the green light to bring RULER to the school. Staff and parents learned it first, kicking off the process with using one of RULER’s anchor tools, the Charter. The adults considered the three Charter questions: how they wanted to feel, what behaviors would promote those emotions, and how to handle conflict. Working together, teachers co-wrote answers to those questions. They pledged to greet each other in passing in order to feel valued by their peers, they asked that the staff room be cleaned up to help them feel more respected, and they agreed not to resolve conflict by gossiping. These and other agreements went into a Charter, and everyone signed it. Parents, too, wrote a Charter that worked to turn formerly hostile PTA meetings into constructive conversations. Result: an almost immediate improvement in morale. Next came a two-year rollout to the students. Though the four Anchors of RULER are usually taught in one academic year, the school chose to teach the Charter and Mood Meter the first year and the Meta-Moment and Blueprint the following year; administrators reasoned that the teachers had enough on their plates already. RULER quickly caught on, and soon it was part of the fabric of the school. Each classroom developed its own Charter. The Meta-Moment empowered children to control their own impulsive reactions. Students worked on Blueprints after getting into fights. The school nurse asked students to tell her where their feelings fell on the Mood Meter she’d painted on her office window, while teachers used Mood Meters to help students explore story characters’ reactions. Meanwhile, parents were learning RULER, too. “That’s what’s so exciting about it: kids become the ambassadors and they grow together with their teachers and their families,” Gagne says. Test scores began to rise, and after several years the students were tops in academic performance in their district. But that wasn’t the only change. “The building just   read more

Preschool Teacher & Mom, Childcare Learning Centers

Preschool Teacher & Mom, Childcare Learning Centers

“RULER has helped me work on my energy level and the way I feel before I walk into the classroom. My energy and emotions affect the children, so I really focus on modeling. I might tell them I feel disappointed or sad today because of something that happened and ask what we can do. They’re very open, and they’ll come give me a hug or talk about it. Because I use the techniques, they do too. Modeling is the biggest thing — they’re going to do what they   read more

High School Student, grade 11

High School Student, grade 11

“I have a teacher who checks in with the Mood Meter on Monday mornings and it’s nice to just know that someone’s listening. It gets us in the mood to work, eases us in. That’s probably my favorite   read more

Jason Koch, Teacher, NYC Lab School

Jason Koch, Teacher, NYC Lab School

“I like that RULER offers a clear, instructive way to teach social and emotional learning. It’s been a good way to stimulate conversation, and it helps me think more about where the students are   read more

Ruth Sanchez, Preschool Teacher, Childcare Learning Centers

Ruth Sanchez, Preschool Teacher, Childcare Learning Centers

“With RULER, I’ve seen an amazing change in my students. I remember one time the students were playing and there was a conflict over a toy that two students wanted. A little girl stepped in and had them take a meta moment. It just diffused the situation. For me, it was an extraordinary   read more

Elementary Student, age 11

Elementary Student, age 11

“My little sister and I disagree a lot, but now I take a Meta-Moment and just stop fighting and let her talk. She has some good ideas that I might want to do and she reacts a little bit better. She starts calming down and it makes us get along   read more

High School Student, grade 10

High School Student, grade 10

“Before we started RULER, I was really stressed out with everything. I worried a lot, even for little quizzes. Now, I take a Meta-Moment when I feel overwhelmed. I think to myself, everything is going to be okay. Like last week, I had three quizzes on the same day, and I was thinking, how am I going to get through this? Then I took a Meta-Moment and decided, I’m just going to pace myself and study a little bit each day. When the quizzes came along, I was   read more