Making Schools Emotionally Smarter

Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence

Jack Hong, Staff Writer

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The Bedford Middle School community is working towards establishing the school as a more socially and emotionally aware environment, as well as developing students’ emotional intelligence, but the effort may have to wait due to the changes in scheduling that have occurred during Coleytown coming to Bedford.

According to the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, the group that Bedford has joined with to help the school improve emotional intelligence, “Emotions drive learning, decision-making, creativity, relationships, and health.”

Yale’s RULER program is made up of five skills of emotional intelligence: “Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing and Regulating emotions.”

This new push to develop student’s “emotional intelligence” could bring academic and social benefits to students. “RULER is all about establishing a common language,” said Sarah Harding, guidance Counselor at Bedford. “If you are feeling emotionally safe, you are more ready to learn.”A study by Dr. Lewis M. Terman, a Stanford University psychologist, had multiple students being asked how they thought they did on a test, then compared their predictions with the results. The students that understood their own abilities scored well, whereas the students who overestimated themselves achieved poor scores; the most likely reason being their overconfidence.

Posters in the cafeteria give “one hundred colorful words to use instead of sad.” The Guardian reports that “Encouraging students to understand the difference between “sad,” “disappointed,” and “upset” acts as springboard to develop appropriate strategies for each.” Researcher Lisa Feldman Barrett,  psychologist at Northeastern University, says that “interpersonal skills can be enhanced by helping students increase their emotion (sic) vocabulary.”

During extended homeroom periods, (typically on Wednesdays), students and teachers were going to work to create an emotional charter, establishing how they would ideally to feel during school (i.e. confident, safe, etc.). The Guardian reports that “Encouraging students to understand the difference between “sad,” “disappointed,” and “upset” acts as springboard to develop appropriate strategies for each.”

The school hopes to return to the ruler program once a normal routine returns and time is made available.

                                                          New Charters Postponed

But with the arrival of Coleytown Middle School students and efforts to coordinate schedules, homeroom is no longer on students’ schedules, with students instead heading directly to their first-period class. This postpones the creation of the emotional charters and subsequent lessons which play a key role in developing this community. “Always, the hope is to continue it.” Says Colleen Banick, Vice Principal at Bedford.

                                                              Student Opinions

Within this plan, there is a very important voice: the students. Do students feel stressed? What do students think about the postponement of the charters? Is the school not emotionally sensitive? Why do they think that? How do they feel about it being postponed? “I personally think that schools should have something like that” says Matthew Stashower at Bedford.  

                                                   The Future of RULER for Bedford

So for now, the future of the RULER program is relatively unclear, with part of the development of part of the program (Charters) being delayed. It is greatly hoped for it to continue, but for now we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

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