ESUSD Adopts RULER Approach for Social Emotional Learning

At ESUSD, we believe in taking a holistic approach to our students’ education. Last year, we worked to enhance ESUSD’s social emotional learning curriculum. I am pleased to announce that ESUSD has adopted the evidence-based RULER approach for K-12 social emotional learning. Across the nation, school districts are recognizing the importance of social emotional learning and are looking for ways to help students develop or enhance their emotional intelligence.


Developed by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, RULER outlines the five skills of emotional intelligence. The RULER approach provides learning tools for educators, students and parents to better recognize, understand and manage personal feelings. The five skills are:


R – Recognizing

U – Understanding

L – Labeling

E – Expressing

R - Regulating


Research shows the need for social emotional learning is clear. Students, and adults, live in an increasingly stressful society. ESUSD student surveys and other measured data reveal that 81% of ESHS report feeling stress on a daily basis. Sixty percent of students said they are unaware of resources or strategies to help with stress. There is an increase in chronic absenteeism resulting from “anxiety,” most notably at the secondary levels.


So, why focus on emotions? Because evidence shows emotions can significantly impact:

  • Decision Making
  • Fostering Good Relationships
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Attention to Learning and Performance

Research also points to positive outcomesfrom the RULER approach:

  • Students using RULER have better academic performance
  • It improves school climate
  • Increases emotional intelligence and social skills
  • Reduces anxiety and depression
  • Students using RULER are less likely to bully other students
  • Increases leadership skills and attention
  • Teachers have better relationships with students, less burnout, and are more positive about teaching

Training for ESUSD elementary school educators is in progress and is targeted to be completed by June 2019, with the RULER approach introduced to elementary students in August 2019. Middle school and high school educators will be trained by January 2020, and the RULER approach will be rolled out to ESMS and ESHS students during the 2020 school year. Currently four administrators, two counselors and six teachers have been trained in the RULER approach. Future parent and family training and information nights on the RULER approach are also being planned.


ESUSD believes in the importance of providing approaches and resources to help bring emotional intelligence to our students, educators, and parents. It is our hope that the ESUSD community will embrace this lifestyle change. The RULER approach has proven results that are fully aligned with the ESUSD Graduate Profile, by developing graduates who are responsible, self-directed individuals who demonstrate expertise in taking initiative and personal accountability; strong interpersonal skills; emotional intelligence; ethics; and a commitment to personal well-being. We are all a part of this journey, and we also hope to experience personal growth along the way.


Other resources for social emotional learning:


ESUSD Families Connected Website


CASEL: Transforming American Education through Social Emotional Learning



Dr. Melissa Moore

Superintendent, ESUSD