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Curriculum Guide: Emotional Intelligence

The PBS Approach

Emotional intelligence is a pillar of the PBS experience, as we believe that children can only thrive in their academic learning if they possess the awareness and strategies to manage their emotional state. We embed teaching and learning about key social–emotional competencies throughout our daily routines and academic program with an intentional practice of our core values: kindness, love of learning, courage, and community

Inspiration and Groundwork

PBS is guided by several research-based models that are committed to understanding and honoring the development of children; these models include:

We draw on the tools and strategies from these programs when supporting children to make positive choices for themselves and others as members of a school community. As we get to know our children each year, we adapt this robust hybrid program to meet the emerging needs of individual students and cohorts of students.

PBS is continually guided by the important work of the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL). CASEL is an important research-based clearinghouse with more than two decades of data to support best practices in the teaching of emotional intelligence and social–emotional learning.

The five EI/SEL competencies we measure on our PBS Progress Report – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management, and decision-making – come directly from CASEL’s research. We use these competencies to establish teacher, student, and community goals for how we interact as a school.

The First Six Weeks of School

Each of our K–5 classrooms strives to achieve five key goals during the first six weeks of school. Our Early Learning Center is also fully immersed in emotional intelligence work and participates in a similar process that is adapted for their particular developmental age and stage.

Mood Meter and Feeling Words Curriculum


The Mood Meter

The Mood Meter is one of the “anchors of Emotional Intelligence” in the RULER program. It helps people develop the core RULER skills: Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, and Regulating emotions. The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence describes it as follows:

The Mood Meter develops emotional intelligence over time. Learning to identify and label emotions is a critical step toward cultivating emotional intelligence. Using the Mood Meter can help you become more mindful of how your emotions change throughout the day and how your emotions in turn affect your actions. 

Using the Mood Meter can help you to develop self-awareness and self-regulation, it’s important to understand the full scope of your emotional life.

Each of these feeling words is associated with one or more sectors of the Mood Meter. Each grade level has a set of words they focus on during the year:

  • Kindergarten: Cheerful (yellow), embarrassed (blue), caring (green), furious (red), eager (yellow), lonely (blue), relaxed (green), nervous (red)
  • 1st Grade: Amused (yellow), guilty (blue), cautious (blue/red), energetic (yellow), mindful (green), left out (blue), troubled (red), carefree (green)
  • 2nd Grade: Relieved (green), shame (blue), restless (red), enthusiastic (yellow), envious (blue/red), tranquil (green), optimistic (yellow), livid (red)
  • 3rd Grade: Satisfied (yellow/green), intimidated (red/blue), humble (green), motivated (yellow), regretful (blue), grateful (green), incensed (red), alienated (blue)
  • 4th Grade: Inspired (yellow), ashamed (blue), mortified (red), content (green), repulsed (red), empowered (yellow), insecure (blue), mellow (green)
  • 5th Grade: Ecstatic (yellow), pessimistic (blue), complacent (green), aghast (red), apathetic (blue), indignant (red), triumphant (yellow), serene (green)

Key Concepts and Emphasis

After the first six weeks of school, K–5 classrooms strive to achieve three goals in their exploration of emotional intelligence:

  1. Students develop self-awareness and self-management to achieve school and life success
  2. Students use social awareness and interpersonal skills to create positive relationships
  3. Students demonstrate decision-making skills and responsible behaviors in developmentally appropriate ways

Though the goals are shared, the tactics and lessons vary from grade to grade:

Evaluation Criteria

All K–5 PBS students are assessed against these benchmarks, as appropriate for their age and grade cohort, in our two annual Progress Reports, published in January and June.

Self-awareness Benchmarks

Children accurately recognize their own emotions and thoughts, their impact on others, and how these interactions may influence their own behavior. 

  • Aware of their own social strengths and growth opportunities

  • Demonstrates a sense of confidence and optimism

  • Participates actively in self-awareness activities

Self-management Benchmarks

Children regulate their emotions to persevere, control impulses, and handle stress. They navigate personal and academic goals and express emotions appropriately.

  • Demonstrates effort during learning experiences
  • Uses tools and strategies to complete work
  • Appropriately uses body and voice

Social Awareness Benchmarks

Children recognize and appreciate individual and group similarities and differences.

  • Respects the rights, opinions, and feelings of others
  • Participates cooperatively in conversations and community activities
  • Respectfully listens and is interested in others

Relationship Management Benchmarks

Children effectively manage relationships by establishing and maintaining positive connections and seeking help when needed.

  • Builds positive relationships
  • Communicates thoughts clearly and respectfully
  • Resolves conflicts productively

Decision-making Benchmarks

Children make appropriate decisions that contribute to the wellbeing of themselves and our school community.

  • Takes responsibility for own choices and actions
  • Demonstrates core values
  • Uses effective pausing strategies before making decisions

From the PBS Blog…