How Teachers Can Use Simone Biles’ Show of Social-Emotional Self-Care in Their Classrooms

How Teachers Can Use Simone Biles’ Show of Social-Emotional Self-Care in Their Classrooms

Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from a series of Olympics competitions last month care for her mental health was surprising and transformative. The move, especially by an Olympic athlete who is considered one of the greatest the world has ever seen, was more influential and inspiring than any athletic feat thus far.

The gymnast’s withdrawal from the competition emphasizes the importance of holistic self care and should inspire us to think about how we can practice taking care of our own selves and supporting those around us — our children, our colleagues, and our family members — to do the same. When we’re feeling unwell, it’s hard to be the best version of ourselves. The “ twisties ” can take many different forms and the connection between mental health, social emotional wellness, and performance is real. (Biles later re-entered the competition and won a Bronze medal on the balance beam.)

By withdrawing, Simone Biles has shown courage and vulnerability. She has prioritized her own wellbeing over the fame and glory of being crowned Olympic champion. Coming off of Naomi Osaka’s decision to pull out of the French Open in May for similar reasons, there’s an opportunity to follow these athletes’ leads to prioritize their own wellbeing as inspiration for your students to do the same.

Here are four ways we can encourage students to follow Biles’ and Osaka’s leadership and cultivate the skills in themselves that will strengthen their own social emotional wellness.

Explore Expectations

Invite students to write out an expectation that is weighing on them from their family, school, or society. Then have them come up with a gentler expectation they choose to place on themselves.

Ask students to reflect on whether the expectation that is weighing on them came from themselves or from someone else. By thinking about how we can replace this external expectation with a kinder one, we’re being gentler on ourselves and the pressure we hold.

Care Fully

Generate ideas for self and community care. Students explore ways they can care for themselves and their community and how that might feel by expressing this through movement.

Students can do a movement to represent a self-care step they would like to take (like taking deep breaths) and a frozen statue in their bodies for how that self-care step makes them feel. Then, invite students to make a movement for a community care step they can take (like picking up trash at a park or speaking out about unfairness) and a frozen statue in their bodies for how that might make folks in their community feel. Debrief with students and reflect on what they can do to take care of themselves and their community. Follow the Follower

Understand the importance […]

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