Hinsdale High School District 86 in Illinois is showing high-schoolers how to identify and measure their emotions, in hopes that the social and emotional skills can help them balance life and focus in school. The district recently adopted the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence’s “RULER” approach—an acronym that stands for recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing, and regulating emotions.
Yale officials held a workshop with Hinsdale South High School staff at the beginning of the school year, and planned social and emotional learning is now required as part of physical education for all freshmen, the Chicago Tribune reports.
A key to the program is a “mood meter” to help students better identify their emotional state.
According to the Tribune:
The upper right quadrant is yellow and describes when someone is energetic and in a good mood. The lower right quadrant is green and with words such as tranquil, content, chill and secure, describes when someone is feeling good, but not very energetic.
The lower left quadrant is blue, representing when someone is disgusted, alienated, disappointed, bored or ashamed. The upper left quadrant is red, with words such as furious, frustrated, shocked, nervous and annoyed, describing someone who is feeling both unpleasant and high energy.
Teachers of all subjects are receiving training, and are incorporating social and emotional skills into other daily lessons, as well.
Math teacher Gina Gagliano, for example, offers extra credit to students who use the mood meter phone app to record their mood at three different times throughout the day for about two months, and analyze patterns.
Both students and teachers were skeptical about the lessons at first, but several students said they learned more about themselves than they expected. “At first I thought it was kind of dumb,” freshman Lilly O’Donnell told the Tribune. “I thought, ‘I don’t want to talk about my feelings.’ But I learned ways you could deal with your emotions.”
Fellow freshman Nola Colakovic agreed. “I didn’t think we really needed it,” she said. “I thought I knew how to handle what I was feeling. But as it went on, I learned there were better ways.” Instead of getting sassy when she’s annoyed, Colakovic said she’s learned to take a moment to think before she reacts. “That actually helped,” she said.
Hinsdale’s focus on social-emotional learning underscores the reality that schools are formative institutions, with a mission that extends far beyond academics.
James Davison Hunter and Ryan S. Olson, with the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, write in The Content of Their Character:
Human beings, after all, are not merely cerebral, but sentient; not merely rational, but feeling—and beyond the intellectual and emotional, they are social and normative beings, too.
The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues helps teachers and students with those questions through building compassion for others. By connecting emotions, choices, and actions, the Jubilee Centre materials push students beyond skills and toward the virtue of compassion.