Brackett addresses emotional intelligence

Eliza Poster, Staff Writer

On Wednesday evening, Director of the Yale Center of Emotional Intelligence Dr. Marc Brackett addressed Nursery and Lower Division parents in Gross Theater about the school’s implementation of the Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, and Regulating (RULER) approach to learning.

The RULER approach, founded by Brackett, aims to teach students emotional and social perceptiveness by building a curriculum where students regularly have to identify and articulate their specific emotions as well as the emotions of others.

“I’ve seen a titanic shift in the culture of this division in that the morale of the faculty – the happiness quotient – is much higher, and the kids are behaving differently,” Head of Lower Division Deena Neuwirth said.

Application of RULER in schools occurs in three tiers, through which teachers are trained to employ its methods, students learn with these methods, and parents are informed on how they can advance their family’s emotional intelligence, Brackett said.

“Parents have to have the knowledge and skills themselves so they can both model them and then support the development of them in their kids,” Brackett said.

One of the tools used to help students identify and express their emotions are mood meters: charts which list specific types of emotions based on student’s energy so they can pinpoint their precise emotions, fourth grade teacher Gina D’Amico said.

“I think that it’s interesting because it gives our family a common language to talk to our kids about what’s happening in our day,” Nursery Division PA Co-Chair Alisha Alonso P’30 P’31 P’33 said.

Alonso noticed that her kids are more communicative about their emotions because of the meter. “One of my daughters, when she was getting frustrated, said, ‘Mom, I’m in the red,’ and I was able to understand exactly what she meant,” she said.

Brackett encouraged parents to “be the scientist parent instead of the judge” and be inquisitive instead of making assumptions, he said.

Anuja Dangayach P’30 is enthusiastic about implementing Brackett’s advice, she said. “I’m sure it’s not as easy as it sounds to make those changes, but it definitely gives you a vision,” she said.

“My kids have been at the school since Mrs. Neuwirth started this initiative and I think it’s so important how people are identifying with the extent at which emotions impact learning and home,” Lower Division PA Co-Chair Katherine Locker Sharlatt P’25 P’28 said.