Walk into a Highline elementary school and it's likely you will hear teacher after teacher ask students, "Will you check in on the Mood Meter?" The Mood Meter is a tool to teach students how to identify and understand their feelings.
Students respond with statements like, "I'm in the yellow because I'm excited," or, "I'm in the blue because I'm tired." Some students will point to a color on a Mood Meter poster with four quadrants—each quadrant is a color and represents a different set of feelings.
The Mood Meter was developed by Yale University based on decades of research. It's a part of RULER, a researched-based approach that helps students develop their social-emotional literacy skills and emotional vocabulary. All Highline elementary schools have a commitment to a social-emotional approach.
"It's pretty close to impossible to teach a kid math if they are upset. If they don't have the skills to calm down, then they are not going to be able to learn math," said Stephanie Moeller, Marvista Elementary School teacher. "It's really important kids learn these skills so they can regulate those emotions."
Marvista is a leader in implementing RULER. At several elementary schools in Highline, students check in on the mood meter daily. In some schools, it's a few times a day. It typically takes place at the start of the day—so teachers know how students are feeling.
"A lot of time can be wasted on instruction if kids are not ready to learn. They need the time to think about how they're feeling so they can be ready for the day," said Marvista teacher Joanne Nair. "I think it's the best work we can do and it's some of my favorite work. It helps connect me to my students, and helps them connect to one another."
See what a Mood Meter check-in looks like in a kindergarten and first-grade class at Marvista.
Mood Meter check-ins don't happen just in the classroom. Marvista and other Highline schools are infusing social-emotional learning in their everyday activities, including in the school office, intercom announcements, in the cafeteria and on the playground. See how a tardy pass gets students ready to learn.