Aligning to a Social Emotional Lens in Physical Education

Part 1: Aligning to a Social Emotional Lens in Physical Education

According to Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, a clearly defined purpose is at the heart of all goal-setting and system-building, and as a teacher the communication of this purpose to students and parents sets a clear expectation for how and what they will learn in your classroom. Each year I rewrite my professional mission statement as a practice in centering my focus and intention in the classroom. I find that each year my statement gets shorter, more focused, and more aligned to my personal values. This year my personal mission statement reads:

“The purpose of my physical education program is to graduate students with strong, positive emotional connections to physical activity.”

With that belief at the center of my teaching philosophy, I hope to graduate students who view physical activity as a normal and natural part of their lives. The challenge to bringing this vision to life is formulating systems in physical education that are carefully constructed to help students find meaning in movement, connection to physical activity, and awareness of physical activities that enhance the quality of their life.

If the purpose of graduating students with deep connections to their physical activity is at the heart of the PE program, then a systematic approach to helping students on their journey is necessary to validate the goal. The PE class is a place that students connect to physical learning that happens through movement and gameplay, but is also a venue of deep social and emotional development. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defines five areas of competence that are an integral part of education and human development. Each of the components of the CASEL Framework is relevant to learning in physical education, but if my mission is to help students form deep emotional connections to physical activity, then helping students develop a strong sense of self-awareness is key.  CASEL defines self-awareness as the ability to recognize one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior.  Helping students develop deeper connections to their physical activity is an exercise in promoting physical activity choices. 

Supporting student social and emotional development in PE by asking students to observe their emotional responses to physical activity helps students begin to organize activities they like and find meaningful. By engaging in this process repeatedly, students begin to recognize their strengths and develop an accurate self-perception of their relationship to physical activity and when students analyze their physical activity levels and emotional responses to physical activity it strengthens their agency to choose more of the activities that support enjoyment, challenge and belongingness in their lives. When physical education becomes focused on helping students relate physical activity to strong, positive social and emotional factors, then graduating students who choose physical activity as a part of their normal and natural routine becomes inevitable. 

This is the first part of a two-part series of microblogs from Jordan You can find the accompanying post here.

This microblog post was a featured post in #slowchathealth’s #microblogmonth event. You can search for all of the featured posts here. Please do follow each of the outstanding contributors on social media (including Jordan Manley, the author of this post) and consider writing a microblog post of your own to be shared with the global audience of

Pair this blog post with the following:

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

How Well Do We Teach Emotional Wellness? by Andy Horne

My Why by Charlie Rizzuto

2 thoughts on “Aligning to a Social Emotional Lens in Physical Education

  1. Pingback: How to Facilitate Deeper Connections to Physical Activity – #slowchathealth

  2. Pingback: My Why – #slowchathealth

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