RULER Social/Emotional Curriculum

RULER, Whittier's Social/Emotional Curriculum

Whittier has adopted a new social/emotional curriculum known as RULER, an evidence-based approach for integrating social and emotional learning into schools. RULER is the work of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, which conducts rigorous research on the power of emotions and creates programs that teach emotional intelligence to children and adults. The RULER curriculum is composed of three phases and, as recommended, Whittier staff will learn and implement the program gradually over the next 2-3 years.

RULER Family Nights

The third and final RULER Family Night this year will be Thursday, April 6, 6:30pm - 8:00pm in the Whittier Library. This parents-only event will focus on the Meta Moment, a RULER Anchor tool that helps us to deal more effectively with unpleasant feelings. Please join us!


RULER teaches the emotional intelligence skills associated with:

Recognize emotions in self and others; 
Understand causes and consequences of emotions; 
Label emotions accurately; 
Express emotions appropriately; and 
Regulate emotions effectively. 

Decades of research show that these skills are essential to effective teaching and learning, sound decision-making, physical and mental health, and success in school and beyond. With RULER, students and the adults involved in their education — administrators, teachers and support staff — develop a deep and consistent approach to emotional intelligence, supporting a genuinely safe space for students to learn and grow.

The Long Term Goals of RULER:

  • Students learn emotional awareness and how to verbalize their feelings.
  • Students become ready to practice regulating their emotions.
  • Students learn self control. Self control takes more practice than relying on short-term solutions like consequences, structure, and constant adult control.
  • Students practice, mess up, and reflect...a lot — that's how progress happens.
  • Students learn to be self managers; they feel capable as they gain skills that make their lives better in the long term.

Whittier teacher leaders attend quarterly trainings and then return to the building to train staff members. The first year of the program is dedicated to Phase 1, or the "Anchors of Emotional Intelligence". 

RULER's three phases are:

Phase 1: The Anchors of Emotional Intelligence
RULER includes four primary tools, or the Anchors of Emotional Intelligence (AEII): Charter, Mood Meter, Meta-Moment, and Blueprint. [note: each Anchor name will eventually link to a sub-page.] This first phase grounds teachers, staff, students, and families in these fundamental RULER tools, which are designed to enhance individuals' ability to understand and regulate their own emotions and to consider and empathize with how others are feeling. The Anchors foster a healthy emotional climate that is essential to both personal growth and a supportive and caring school climate. 

Phase 2: The Feeling Words Curriculum
How often do students need to share how they feel but can't find the right words? When the right words are not available, communication breaks down. Students' feelings become confused, suppressed, or even displaced onto others. The Feeling Words Curriculum is the second step in training, and empowers students and teachers to describe the full range of human emotions. Teachers learn to integrate RULER into a wide range of subject areas, ensuring that emotional intelligence is woven into the content of every class and throughout each student's school day. The Feeling Words Curriculum that teachers learn to use is tailored to specific grade levels and aligned with the Common Core.

Phase 3: Lasting Results
RULER is a self-perpetuating program — Whittier's RULER "trainers" (i.e., staff members who attend RULER training) return to Whittier to train the rest of the staff about the Anchors of Emotional Intelligence and the Feeling Words Curriculum. That training is passed along to students and eventually families. Over time, RULER becomes a normal part of daily life at school. In addition, RULER trainers have ongoing access to advice and feedback from RULER coaches, and an online community that offers continual support.

For more information about RULER, please visit the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence

Additional Resources:

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