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Social Emotional Learning Leads to Positive School Climate and Student Success

Amid the global pandemic, students lost not only the school structure that stabilizes their daily life, but also socialization skills and interpersonal connections. The interactions and expectations that in-person participation provide are once again being fostered as we continue to focus on support for the whole child. While whole-child support encompasses many systems and resources, one important piece is Social Emotional Learning (SEL). SEL helps students not only identify and understand feelings, but also take positive action in response. Once students recognize their emotions and their attached behaviors, they can employ strategies to make responsible decisions, build positive relationships with others, and develop self-awareness, self-control and interpersonal skills. One way we do this in our schools is through RULER, an evidence-based approach developed by the , implemented in our schools to support SEL. RULER stands for: R ecognizing emotions in yourself and others U nderstanding the causes and consequences of emotions L abeling emotions accurately E xpressing emotions appropriately R egulating emotions effectively Recognizing Emotions in Yourself and Others One of the tools used in the RULER approach, is a colorful Mood Meter to help students identify emotions. The Mood Meter is divided into four quadrants, with each color representing a set of emotions defined by the level of energy required and whether it is pleasant or unpleasant. Red: Emotions that feel unpleasant and require higher energy, such as anger and anxiety. Blue: Emotions that feel unpleasant and require a low amount of energy, such as boredom or sadness. Yellow: Emotions that feel pleasant and require higher energy, such as excitement and joy. Green: Emotions that feel pleasant and require a low amount of energy, such as satisfaction and serenity. Understanding the Causes and Consequences of Emotions Another tool, the Charter, establishes common goals between staff and students. In a classroom, students and their teacher create an agreement that defines what behaviors are desirable based on their answers to the question “How do we want to feel at school?” This gives the students ownership in creating a safe learning environment, which leads to them being more engaged in the classroom. Labeling Emotions Accurately Using the Mood Meter, students go beyond recognizing their emotion color group (red, blue, yellow, green) to labeling specific vocabulary words that represent a set of emotions within that color group. In a classroom, teachers and students might focus on a few words for emotions that fit into each of the four colored areas of the graph, then build on that vocabulary as the year progresses. This teaches students the vocabulary necessary to communicate their feelings. There are multiple Mood Meters with vocabulary words tailored to specific grade levels. Expressing Emotions Appropriately One way students express emotions appropriately is through the Meta Moment, which allows students a moment to step back, take a deep breath and think about how to best respond. To help facilitate Meta Moments, some classrooms have a calm corner or wellness space. Students take a Meta Moment to find their best self and discover more positive behavior patterns, which helps reduce classroom disruptions. Regulating Emotions Effectively The Blueprint tool encourages self-regulation by having students ask themselves: What happened? How did I feel? What caused my feelings? How did I express and regulate my emotions? How might my actions have affected others? Next time, keeping my best self in mind, how might I respond differently? The students’ responses prompt empathy for others by acknowledging how their actions may have affected others. The four tools (known as the anchor tools) in the RULER approach help students recognize, understand, label, express and regulate their emotions, resulting in an ideal outcome to their current situation by being their best self. This sets the foundations for students to improve and build on positive behaviors. Visit the for more information and links to SEL resources.
Source: CDM High School New

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