Social-Emotional Learning: FAQ's

Heart and Brain holding hands

What is Social Emotional Learning?

Social-Emotional Learning is the practice of teaching the skills necessary to establish:  self-awareness, social awareness, self-management skills, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.  Teaching these skills is done through evidence-based lessons about perspective-taking, conflict resolution, emotional identification, emotional regulation, and social skills.  Social-emotional learning also occurs by working through group projects, situations that occur naturally through a child’s day, and introducing strategies to support and promote positive social interactions. 

The RULER curriculum is the resource we are piloting to teach PK-5th grade students social and emotional skills.


Why is the district piloting the RULER Curriculum in grades PK-5?

The pilot is meant to evaluate the use of the RULER curriculum to assist in the development of student’s skills in the areas of self-awareness, social awareness, self-management skills, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.  The development of these skills correlates with the Michigan Department of Education’s competencies for social-emotional learning.


Does the focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging have something to do with Critical Race Theory?

No, our dedication to promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging has nothing to do with Critical Race Theory. Rather, it’s an acknowledgment that every student is unique – and the better we understand our students and their needs, the better we can help them learn and grow. It is the goal of HPS to ensure that each and every student has an opportunity to learn and succeed in a safe and supportive learning environment.


Why does the school feel it’s necessary to teach students these skills?  Isn’t this a parent’s job?

Social and emotional skills are generally fostered in the home and nurtured by parents over the course of a student’s lifetime. As a school, we hope to continue to support these skills, specifically as they are connected to a student’s social interactions at school, to build a safe and caring learning environment, and to provide all students with a common language and skills that they will need to be successful in the classroom and beyond. School’s primary function is to teach academics, but until students feel emotionally safe, learning can be challenging.


Can parents have their children opt-out of participating in the RULER lessons?

Parents may request a meeting with their building (elementary) principal to see and discuss the RULER lessons.


Does the RULER curriculum have ties to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging?

The RULER curriculum does not have direct ties to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, but it does contain lessons on helping all students feel included and to encourage a sense of belonging in our classrooms and buildings.  No students should feel unwelcome, for any reason.  Parents are welcome and encouraged to review the curriculum by requesting an opportunity to see and discuss the lessons with their child’s building (elementary) principal.


What is the desired outcome of using the RULER curriculum?

The desired outcome is to teach students social-emotional skills to succeed socially in the classroom, manage/understand their emotions to best access instruction, and apply these skills in their daily lives.


Are we piloting before getting parent/staff input?

Staff input has been provided and will continue, through the curriculum approval process, and parental input is being gathered as we progress through the year.

With a committee of teachers and administrators, the process of curriculum review began in November of 2020.  This process included updates to the Board of Education prior to beginning the pilot in the fall of 2021. 


What is the extent of the pilot?

The pilot is occurring in all buildings in grades PK-5.  Teachers are receiving support for implementation from their building PBIS specialists.  We will continue to gather regular feedback regarding implementation.  Feedback gathered will guide the timeline for moving through the curriculum review process, including any formal request for adoption of a social-emotional learning curriculum to the Board of Education.


Are these lessons taking the place of other core content?

No.  Teachers have been holding space in our daily schedules for social-emotional learning for decades: this is nothing new.  The use of the RULER curriculum will not take the place of any core content.


How much time each day/week do the RULER lessons require?

Each week, teachers will spend approximately 10-45 minutes, 4-5 days a week depending on the unit of study and grade level.


In what grades is this curriculum being piloted during the 2021-22 school year?

We are piloting the RULER Curriculum in grades PK-5.


Does it teach Critical Race Theory?

No, the RULER curriculum does not teach children about Critical Race Theory. RULER’s curriculum does not include lessons related to whether or not race is a social construct and/or whether race, prejudice, or bias is embedded in legal systems and policies.  Some lessons discuss social justice but the RULER curriculum focuses on building skills in the following areas:  self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.  Parents are welcome and encouraged to review the curriculum by requesting an opportunity to see and discuss the lessons with their child’s building (elementary) principal.


Does the RULER curriculum teach students about gender identity?

No, there are no lessons focusing on gender identity in the curriculum.  Parents are welcome and encouraged to review the curriculum by requesting an opportunity to see and discuss the lessons with their child’s building (elementary) principal.


How is this curriculum going to aid our children to prepare them for life outside of school?

Research supports the correlation between the consistent implementation of social-emotional learning instruction and positive outcomes for students in the areas of social-emotional wellness, academic performance, school behaviors, and attitudes towards self and others (Durlak et al., 2011; Taylor et al., 2017). Students who understand themselves and others are more prepared for their future.


It’s been said that social emotional learning is not new.  What has this looked like previously, before the RULER pilot?

Teachers have previously taught or addressed the skills of self-regulation, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making through informal open class discussions, one-to-one conversations, teaching lessons about self-evaluation, self-reflection, growth mindset, and trauma care.  An important aspect of implementing a district-wide social-emotional curriculum is the impact of a systematic approach to ensure access to the development of these skills for all of our students.


How was the RULER Curriculum selected as the resource to pilot for social-emotional learning in Hudsonville?

Beginning in the fall of 2020, a team of staff and administrators reviewed eight social-emotional learning curriculums. These included: Caring School, Positive Action, Sanford Harmony, Michigan Model, Paths, RULER, Second Step, and True Success. These curriculums were evaluated based on the following factors: need (i.e., alignment to the current needs), contextual fit, program resources, research/evidence, organizational readiness, and capacity. Based on the information reviewed and discussion/feedback from teacher leaders and administrators, the RULER Curriculum was selected.


What is the timeline for curriculum adoption?

Curriculum Approval Paperwork due to Administration December 10, 2021
Board Curriculum and Board Work Session January 24, 2022
Board Meeting 1st Reading February 10, 2022
Board Meeting 2nd Reading March 10, 2022
   *Timeline subject to change

Where can I find more information or get answers to my additional questions?

Please contact your elementary building principal for more information or to receive answers to any additional questions.