Elements of the RULER Program

Kathy Minardi serves as a senior consultant with Whole School Leadership. Active in training school personnel in building strong communities, Kathy Minardi helps school leaders to implement the RULER program.

Sponsored by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, the RULER program helps schools to encourage emotional awareness within their student bodies. The RULER acronym stands for the program’s five core components, which include recognizing (R) emotions in oneself and others, understanding (U) the causes and potential consequences of these emotions and correctly labeling (L) each emotion, and appropriately expressing (E) and skillfully regulating (R) emotions.

Implementation of the RULER program takes place over the course of two years. The first year involves the introduction of the Anchors of Emotional Intelligence, a set of data-supported tools that help to strengthen the emotional intelligence of all members of the school community.

The first anchor is the charter, a document that the school creates as a community to express in writing how members would like to feel in the school environment and how they hope to nurture those feelings. The second tool, the Mood Meter, helps students and teachers assess how they are feeling throughout the day. This helps them to more specifically label their emotions and recognize how their feelings change.

The RULER program also offers the Meta-Moment and Blueprint to help the community handle intense feelings and control behavior. The Meta-Moment encourages community members to pause before reacting, and make choices that align with one’s “best self, while the Blueprint provides a guideline for handling conflict empathetically.

After the first year, teachers can begin to add more emotional intelligence words into their regular lessons. To provide a framework, RULER offers The Feeling Words Curriculum, which is written for individual grade levels and aligns with Common Core standards. Use of this program helps teachers become familiar enough that they can train other school personnel, thus creating a continuing culture of emotional intelligence.