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An Emotion Revolution in our Nation’s Schools

Jun 10, 2015|By: Marc A. Brackett, Director, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, and Ingrid Donato, Chief, Mental Health Promotion Branch, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and StopBullying.gov Ed Board member
Posted In: Response

The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence in partnership with Born This Way Foundation (founded by Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta) are launching a national campaign, the Emotion Revolution, to learn more about how high school students currently feel in school, how they hope to feel, and what is needed to bridge the gap. The goal is to push our nation’s education system toward creating the best possible learning environments through evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL).

The campaign is launching with an anonymous, nationwide survey of high school students developed by the Center’s research team. The immediate goal is to use the results to create an emotion climate map of the U.S. and to be able to see the similarities and differences across gender, ethnicity, and geographic location. A second goal is to use this information to encourage superintendents, principals, teachers, politicians, and parents to work together to make schools more supportive of students’ and educators’ wellbeing. The larger goal of the initiative, however, is to empower youth to drive the national conversation that charges schools with increasing their focus on building positive school climates and integrating social and emotional learning (SEL) to improve their prospects for leading happy, healthy, and productive lives.

Asking about and attending to students’ feelings is not the norm in our nation’s high schools. Yet, decades of research shows that how students’ feel matters – and matters a great deal for engagement and learning, sound decision making and quality relationships, and physical and mental health.

For an Emotion Revolution to happen, several things are necessary. Adults need to know how (and where) emotions are running lowest. They need to know the reasons for this and also why it matters. And they need to know what can be done. KNOWBullying, an app that provides parents with the information and resources they need to address bullying is one way that we help parents get this knowledge. But much more can and should be done. By making SEL a priority, building social and emotion skills alongside reading and math skills, we can create the kind of classrooms and schools we want to have - ones that friendly, accepting, safe, and supportive.

The campaign’s immediate goal is to hear from 1 million high school students from public, charter, and private schools. This will strengthen the scientific understanding of how we can most effectively help. The 7-minute survey is currently available online for high school students to take, and will be open until June 15th.

Results of the survey will be released at the Emotion Revolution Summit at Yale this October in time for National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. The summit will feature youth participants from around the country as well as special guests, including Lady Gaga. The summit also will offer youth the opportunity to share their ideas for creating improved learning environments with key educators, academics, and policy makers.

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