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Emotional Skills Critical For Learning, Speaker Tells Yorktown Conference

Marc Brackett, director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, speaks to local educators at a recent conference in Yorktown co-sponsored by the Center for Educational Leadership at Putnam|Northern Westchester BOCES and Manhattanville College.
Marc Brackett, director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, speaks to local educators at a recent conference in Yorktown co-sponsored by the Center for Educational Leadership at Putnam|Northern Westchester BOCES and Manhattanville College. Photo Credit: Provided

YORKTOWN, N.Y. -- Local educators got advice on developing “emotionally intelligent” schools at a recent conference in Yorktown.

The event was sponsored by the Center for Educational Leadership at Putnam|Northern Westchester BOCES and Manhattanville College.

Keynote speaker Marc Brackett, director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, told educators that it’s hard for students to focus on learning if they are stressed, highly emotional, or distracted by problems at home.

Simply telling them to “pay attention” or “sit still” will not work, Brackett said.

Schools can help students recognize, and deal with, emotions ranging from anger to sadness to boredom, he said.

“If adolescents don’t have the strategies to recognize and manage their feelings, it’s a downward spiral,” said Brackett, co-creator of the RULER program, which is used in schools nationwide.

Built upon research demonstrating the impact of emotions on learning and decision-making, the program develops emotional intelligence skills in children and helps adults learn to recognize when to step in with support, he said.

“We express emotions for a reason,” Brackett said. “A sad face is saying ‘I need help,’ not ‘Ignore me.’”

Students of all ages are looking to feel safe, accepted and engaged, according to studies done by Brackett and his team.

Younger students also want to feel happy and loved, and older students want to feel motivated and know that their studies are meaningful to their personal goals, Brackett told educators.

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