Woodridge students helped teach their parents about the Mood Meter and families worked together to create a Family Charter at the school’s second annual Social Emotional Learning Night in February.

“This year as a school we’re focusing on teaching students skills as they relate to self-awareness, and self-regulation,” Woodridge Principal Nicole Hepworth said. The goal of the evening, she explained, was to share with parents what students are learning about emotional awareness and self-regulation at school, and provide them with information on how they can utilize that learning at home as well.

“We all know emotional control is important, but we never systematically study why, and its impact,” Sonya Li, a parent of a Woodridge student, said. “(Social Emotional Learning Night) is a good start for my family.”

At Woodridge, students are learning self-regulation strategies along with how to use the Mood Meter this year and each grade level is focusing on a specific area of self-regulation.

“It’s definitely having an impact on the kids,” Hepworth said.

Hepworth sees a correlation between the emphasis on understanding emotions and emotional self-regulation and a decrease in office referrals, as well as an increase in academic achievement, at the school this year. She also described anecdotal ways that she sees the impact of social emotional learning.

Woodridge Mood Meter Vertical

“The kids are taking it from recognizing how they’re feeling to now advocating for their needs,” Hepworth said. “In second grade math I saw kids saying how they were feeling about a story problem and advocating for a different way for it to be explained. Usually it’s the teacher trying to figure out what they need, but students are starting to advocate for, ‘Here’s how I’m feeling, here’s what I think will help me.’”

Tiffany Reimergartin, a teacher at Woodridge said that she, too, sees the impact on students.

“When students are able to recognize their emotions I see them take ownership of their feelings and are better able to discuss how they feel and why with peers and adults,” Reimergartin said.

Last year at Social Emotional Learning Night, the focus was on creating a Family Charter and on introducing the RULER Approach, which is one of the curriculums the district utilizes for social emotional learning. While this year families had the opportunity to create or update their charter, the majority of the evening was spent on teaching parents about the Mood Meter and how parents they can help their student identify and regulate their emotions.

“It (the Mood Meter) is about recognizing how you’re feeling, understanding what might have caused you to feel that way, being able to find a word to label it, identify an appropriate way to express that emotion, and how can you regulate it,” Hepworth explained.

While staff shared this information with parents, students decorated their family charters and worked on drawing what various emotions look like.

Students also got to help teach their parents, explaining what they’ve been learning during the school day, and together parents and students created their Family Charters and Mood Meters. The charter focuses on things like ‘How do we want to feel as a family?”, “What will you do to feel that way?”, and “How do you handle conflict?”

Kirsten Pickering, who is the Instructional Technology Curriculum Leader at Woodridge, and who also has students who attend Woodridge, helped plan and lead Social Emotional Learning Night.

“As a parent of two boys, I am always thinking about ways to help them identify and understand their emotions,” Pickering said. “The mood meter has been a great tool for our family as a way to check in with each other. On our way home from school I often ask where they would put themselves on the mood meter and why they are feeling that way. It is a great start to a conversation about the day.”