RULER aims to infuse the principles of emotional intelligence into the immune system of each school, informing how leaders lead, teachers teach, students learn, and families support students. By using the skills, tools, and principles of RULER, school communities can create safe, equitable, and inclusive learning environments where all learners thrive.

RULER is based on the premise that all emotions matter, and that individuals experience emotions uniquely based on their identities and backgrounds. At present, RULER has been adopted successfully by over 4,000 highly diverse public and private schools across the United States and in other countries, including Australia, China, England, Italy, Mexico, and Spain.

RULER tools focus on building positive emotional connections across differences, creating awareness around the range of our own emotions and the emotions of others, managing emotions with our best selves, building perspective-taking skills and empathy, reflecting on and resolving conflict, and restoring communities affected by conflict. In this way, RULER is an onramp to work in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and antiracism, as it focuses on the development of the skills and language necessary to have conversations around these topics and achieve equitable practices.

Below are the specific ways DEI is addressed within RULER:

  • DEI & Personal and Professional Learning
  • DEI & Classroom Content
  • DEI & Family Engagement

DEI & Personal and Professional Learning

Social and emotional learning cannot be taught without taking context into consideration. Staff within schools are knowledgeable about their contexts and best equipped to apply RULER concepts and tools to the specific needs within those contexts. RULER provides principles, tools, and resources that can be adapted for use in various contexts and the people within them. In order to make RULER an enduring part of a school’s culture, the adults within that community are taught to adopt and implement RULER in a way that is unique to the needs of their school. Part of this process is assessing the needs of their communities and determining specific goals for how they would like to see their school community benefit from RULER skills and tools to create positive change.

In 2019, we launched RULER for All, a systematic evaluation of our approach (staff training, RULER tools, and preK-12 curricula) through the lenses of Universal Design for Learning and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy. This work identified barriers and access points for staff and students of different identities and informed a process and end product to ensure full inclusion and representation of all learners from all backgrounds in RULER. During the 2021-22 school year the RULER for All team conducted systematic focus groups with students with learning differences in RULER schools across three states to catalog how they and their teachers have been using these strategies and solutions to confront bias, promote inclusion, and navigate experiences of racism in their classrooms and schools.

Click to expand our RULER Personal and Professional Learning projects
  • RULER includes resource collections specific to the issues of equity, inclusion, bias, and helping students through trauma. This includes resources on leading difficult conversations with emotional intelligence, a staff meeting facilitation guide on recognizing and reflecting on bias, and a resource that proposes multiple strategies for shifting one’s mindset to become more culturally responsive.
  • In 2020, we released Managing Emotions in Times of Uncertainty and Stress, a free, 10-hour course delivered through Coursera and led by experts in psychology, education, and research at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. The course is designed to help school staff better manage their emotions and create supportive learning environments for students. Becoming a culturally responsive emotion scientist is a focus within the course. Participants focus on applying strategies for approaching their own and others’ emotions in scientific and culturally responsive ways. Participants have the opportunity to describe the biases involved in identifying and managing emotions, as well as to reflect on the potential impact of their own biases on their interactions with others.
  • We have released several videos focused on helping students through trauma. These videos are available to all RULER schools through the RULER Online platform and to the public on Vimeo.
  • The RULER for All work has identified four barriers to SEL many students experience therein: (1) physical, sensory and cognitive accessibility, (2) emotional accessibility, (3) language, text and discourse, and (4) executive functioning. Full description and suggested solutions will be available in the following forthcoming book chapters:Cipriano, C., Rappolt-Schlichtmann, G., Riley, J., Naples, L. H., & Eveleigh, A. (Forthcoming, 2022). Supporting transformative SEL implementation with a collaboratory for inclusion. In S. Rimm-Kaufman, M. Strambler, & K. Schonert-Reichl (Eds.). Social and emotional learning in action: Creating systemic change in schools. Guilford Press.Rappolt-Schlichtmann, G., Cipriano, C., Robinson K., & Boucher, A. (Forthcoming, 2022). Universal design for social and emotional learning. In Harris & Robinson (Eds.). Universal design for learning in the classroom: Practical applications (2nd ed.). Guilford Press.

Screenshot of multiple resources from RULER Online

DEI & Classroom Content

RULER is designed to be adapted for use in various classroom contexts and the diverse students within them. For example, when discussing and providing practice with the skills of emotional intelligence, educators choose reading material, current events, real-life examples, and other learning content that will resonate with their students’ lives. Students create and choose scenarios that represent their own experiences so they can practice applying emotion skills to actual situations in their lives in ways that make sense to them. In this way, RULER’s design encourages and reinforces culturally responsive teaching practices.

RULER classroom content includes lessons and activities focused on appreciation of similarities and differences in race, gender identity, cultural background, and experiences, as well as developing solutions to challenges within unique school communities and classrooms. RULER does not teach a “correct” way to express or manage feelings, nor does it condone a one-size-fits-all approach to behavior. RULER helps diverse learners discover what strategies and behaviors work for them personally to achieve greater well-being, build and maintain positive relationships, and attain goals, with an emphasis on how our actions affect ourselves and others.

RULER Classroom Projects

  • RULER schools can log in to RULER Online and access the RULER and Transformative SEL resource. This resource describes how RULER encompasses the components of transformative SEL.
  • We are currently working on adaptations of RULER to serve students with diverse learning needs, including best ways of providing access to SEL for students of all abilities and identities (race, class, gender, sexuality, and disability).
  • In 2020, we partnered with Scholastic to broaden the diversity of characters and ideas in our recommended book lists for schools.


Screenshots of RULER classroom content from the RULER Online platform

DEI & Family Engagement

RULER for Families content focuses on helping parents and caregivers better recognize, understand, accept, and manage their own and their children’s emotions. Activities help caregivers feel more comfortable with the full range of emotions and guide them to deal with those emotions in ways that support the development of warm and secure relationships. As in the classroom, parents and caregivers are provided with resources that are flexible to be adapted to their unique context.

RULER Family Engagement Projects

  • We are prioritizing the translation of essential RULER classroom and family engagement content into languages other than English. There is a pre-existing set of translated RULER for Families content that is available to RULER schools on the RULER Online platform.
RULER for Families resources from RULER Online

Continuous Improvement Plan

YCEI is finalizing work with an organization that specializes in DEI to scrutinize all aspects of RULER content to ensure it is equitable, inclusive, and culturally responsive.  We also are working with organizations that specialize in DEI to (a) create crosswalks on how RULER fits with DEI and antiracist initiatives and (b) compile resources to share for use alongside RULER. 

In addition to the above, YCEI research, much of it on methods to enhance RULER, also has made a strong commitment to DEI. 

Learn more about YCEI’s commitment to DEI>>