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American children are experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression and stress (Brackett, 2016). Lamar's students reflect that national trend. The state of children’s emotional distress should be deeply concerning to educators. Our emotions drive creativity, learning and decision-making. Teaching the skills of Emotional Intelligence enables our students to become more effective learners and joyful human beings.  

Emotional Intelligence, also referred to as social and emotional learning, describes “the ability to monitor one’s own and other’s feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions” (Salovey & Mayer, 1990, p. 189).

At Lamar, we extended the school day by 20 minutes in order to create a stand-alone time called TIGER Time at the start of every day to teach social and emotional skills. TIGER Time is an acronym that represents the focus for this initial part of the school day:   


Identity development

Growth mindset

Emotional intelligence

Relationship building

Specific growth mindset strategies we teach include optimism, flexibility, empathy, persistence and resilience (Mraz & Hertz, 2015). We also implement a social-emotional curriculum called RULER. Designed by the Yale University Center for Emotional Intelligence, RULER is an acronym that stands for Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing and Regulating emotions.

Recognize emotions in self and others

Understand the causes and consequences of emotions

Label emotions accurately

Express emotions appropriately

Regulate emotions effectively

Teachers implement RULER tools to provide students with a set of strategies and skills to help identify and manage their emotions. They include writing a class-created contract, using the “mood meter” to better understand their emotions, utilizing the meta-moment framework to work through highly emotional experiences and reflecting during difficult situations using a blueprint (see Family Involvement for additional information on how to use RULER tools at home). The mood meter is the cornerstone tool of the RULER curriculum.

Both the growth mindset and the RULER tools help students to feel better-equipped to handle situations that arise which leads to a healthier and more productive environment for all Lamar students.   

Brackett, M. (2016). “Today’s students may be emotionally unprepared.” New York Times.

Salovey, P. & Mayer, J.D. (1990). Emotional Intelligence. Imagination, Cognition & Personality, 9, 185-211.

Mraz, K. & Hertz, C. (2015). A Mindset for Learning: Teaching the Traits of Joyful, Independent Growth. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.


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