Skip To Main Content

RULER Social Emotional Program

RULER is an evidence-based approach for integrating social and emotional learning into schools, developed at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. RULER applies “hard science” to the teaching of what have historically been called “soft skills.” RULER teaches the skills of emotional intelligence — those associated with:

  • Recognizing,
  • Understanding,
  • Labeling,
  • Expressing, and
  • Regulating emotion.

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.

Click here to access a copy of the Westport BOE presentation about RULER

Mark Brackett - Director of Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence

Ruler Anchor Tools Infographic


The Four Anchor Tools


The emotional climate of a school affects the community’s well-being and students’ ability to learn. The Charter is a collaborative document that helps schools establish supportive and productive learning environments. It is created by members of the community, outlining how they aspire to treat each other. Together, the community describes how they want to feel at school, the behaviors that foster those feelings, and guidelines for preventing and managing unwanted feelings and conflict. By working together to build the Charter, everyone establishes common goals and holds each other accountable for creating the positive climate they envision.

Mood Meter

Learning to identify and label emotions is a critical step toward cultivating emotional intelligence. Using the Mood Meter, students and educators become more mindful of how their emotions change throughout the day and how their emotions in turn affect their actions. They develop the self-awareness they need to inform their choices. Students learn to expand their emotional vocabulary, replacing basic feeling words with more sophisticated terms. They graduate from using words like ‘ok’ or ‘fine’ to using words like ‘alienated’ and ‘hopeless,’ or ‘tranquil’ and ‘serene.’ By teaching subtle distinctions between similar feelings, the Mood Meter empowers students and educators to recognize the full scope of their emotional lives and address all feelings more effectively.


Emotions can either help or hinder relationships, and we all have moments that get the best of us. The Meta-Moment helps students and educators handle strong emotions so that they make better decisions for themselves and their community. The Meta-Moment is a brief step back from the situation when we pause and think before acting. We ask ourselves, how would my “best self” react in this situation? What strategy can I use so that my actions reflect my best self? Over time and with practice, students and educators replace ineffective responses with productive and empowering responses to challenging situations. They make better choices, build healthier relationships, and experience greater well-being.


How everyone in a school treats each other has a powerful effect on classroom performance and school climate. Conflict between students can get in the way of learning and success and increase the time teachers spend off task. The Blueprint helps students and educators manage conflict effectively. Using the Blueprint, children and adults consider a disagreement from the other person’s perspective, as well as their own. They develop empathy by considering each other’s feelings and working collaboratively to identify healthy solutions to conflicts. The Blueprint helps repair relationships and restore climates, creating safer and more productive schools where students can learn and thrive.