GT has influenced my identity as an education student by helping me incorporate ideas into inclusive classrooms

Gentle Teaching (GT) is a philosophy rooted in the recognition of all people having the right to be treated in positive ways. This helps me to remember that all people are inherently good and deserve the best of any situation. As a result, I debate that GT has positively transformed the person who I am and aspire to be. This is revealed through my transformations of identity as a future teacher and my identity with the person who I support.

GT has influenced my identity as an education student by helping me incorporate ideas into inclusive classrooms. My major in Physical Education and minor in Inclusive Education (Special Education) directed me to define GT in a way I can use in classrooms. GT implies that everyone has the right to be treated with respect and patience and that it is my responsibility to create an environment where everyone’s differences are embraced. This is an environment where no matter peoples race, religion, ability, disability, sexual orientation or other differences everyone deserves quality education that is appropriate for that individual and helps them to progress mentally and physically in a positive way. The use of the Four Pillars of GT: safe, loved, loving, and engaged are also useful part of my philosophy. All four pillars are needed for a student to learn at their full capability. This is because people need to feel safe in their surroundings in order to learn; similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs being necessary for survival. As a result of GT influencing my teaching philosophy my future students will be able to learn and move in a positive space and encourage me to have positive interactions with them.

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GT has greatly influenced my relationship with the woman who I support. The Four Pillars along with the Tools of GT: presence, words, hands, and eyes help me to create an environment where Angie feels safe and trusts me. Given the history of institutionalization in Saskatchewan, GT has helped her and I to build a strong relationship that is more than a worker client mentality. We create a space for each other where we can have fun and help each other grow by loving and supporting each other. The use of hands and the element of touch are important to her relationships as she is the first person to want a hug in any situation. Her “squishes” are also important; this is a type of deep pressure therapy which allows her to relax in most situations. These are parts of her relationships that benefit her greatly and were not part of her previous relationships due to philosophy restrictions.

Overall, GT is a positive alternative to traditional philosophies involving people who have disabilities. GT goes beyond support times and into the lives of those who embrace its qualities. This is shown through my identity as a future teacher and my identity as a support person. Not only does GT improve the quality of life of individuals who are supported it also improves that of people who believe in the philosophy and those around them.

 

Andrew, COR Support

 

Gentle Teaching really made me assess my own life

Gentle Teaching has transformed the person I am as well as the person I aspire to be in many ways. What started out as a “job” in the beginning, quickly became “spending time with the guys” and this was because of Gentle Teaching. I think essentially, Gentle Teaching allowed me to understand the importance of living in the moment and appreciating the little things in life. I started realizing quickly the opportunities for learning and life experiences that these guys I support had missed out on through their lives because people who were supposed to “care” for them, honestly did not care. Showing them first hand that they are just like everyone else and have the freedom to make their own choices was sometimes anxiety filled. In the end though, not only did they learn something, but I did as well – how much I took for granted in my own life.

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Gentle Teaching really made me assess my own life to what I viewed as important and what others thought I viewed as important because these are very different categories. Gentle Teaching has allowed me to view situations from multiple perspectives which enhances my problem solving skills. I think someone cannot fully understand this culture of gentleness until they are fully immersed in it. In order to fully understand the culture of gentleness, it is important to allow yourself to be vulnerable not only with the individuals you support, but your support team as well. I’ve never had a job where I could discuss personal struggles with a coworker and come out feeling more equipped to support rather than being torn down and humiliated. I have truly been blessed with an amazing COR family and continue to grow and thrive because of them. Gentle Teaching quickly becomes a way of life and you begin to realize how often you use it outside of supporting. I look forward to using my experience with the culture of gentleness in my future endeavours of nursing and beyond.

Shelbi, COR Support

Party Snapshots — COR Support Appreciation Night

On September 23rd, COR hosted a Support Appreciation Night at the Saskatchewan Science Center to celebrate the incredible people that form part of the COR family! With approximately 80 people in attendance, the evening was filled with Potato Chip Challenges, Segway races, Nitrogen Ice Cream, prizes, tasty food and splendid company! A special thanks to everyone at COR for their commitment and dedication to cultivating a culture of gentleness! Your passion is truly inspirational! 

Ben powering the nightCOR PhotoboothBubbles!Abbie winding up for a shot!Photobooth FunPringle Slingshot ChallengeTeam Photo!Prizes Galore!Nitogen IcecreamFree HugsPringle SlingshotOh Linda!Jessica cruisin' aboutMore Photobooth!Dress Up!Look at Jonathon go!Matt rackin'up on all the prizes!Lill the Potato Chip Champ!Rory Rockin' the Segway

Gentle Teaching has inspired me to become a better person

The way I maintain a culture of gentleness at COR is simply being friends with the individuals I serve. When I am supporting, I look at myself as a guest in a friend’s house. I am not there to ‘take charge’ and tell them how they need to be living their lives. Again, I am a friend and a friend will never judge a friend’s decisions. If anything, I would suggest better choices for them just like any other friend would. For example, if one of the individuals I serve wanted to spend their entire pay check on a $200 used game system, I may suggest other options for the reason of helping them manage their money or I may ask nicely how important the game system is to them. From there, they could hopefully tell me that the game system is not important enough that they spend their entire pay check on or they may choose a cheaper option. If not, they buy the game system and we move on. At the end of the day, it is their choice and if that choice makes them happy, that is all that matters.

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Gentle Teaching has inspired me to become a better person. I find myself using the Gentle Teaching philosophy in all aspects of my life, which has allowed others to feel more respected and warm when they are around me. My Mother first noticed this in me about two months after I began working for COR. She told me that I had came a long way with my personality and the way I show myself to others. Growing up, I was not the child with the best personality or the child with the most respect toward others. As I get older, I am improving in these things every day. It was nice to hear that from someone who sees me almost every day. I know that I am nowhere near perfect, but some progress is better than none. In the end, anyone can better themselves and no one is ever too old to improve.

 

Jason, COR Support

Gentle Teaching isn’t about trying to change behaviour…

Through my 3 and a half years of experience with COR and the philosophy of Gentle Teaching, I have attained a wealth of knowledge and an everlasting impact on my life. When I first started with COR, just like most people, I was a bit skeptical of the whole ideology of unconditional love. In latent terms, I perceived it as ‘give them whatever they want’ or ‘they can do whatever they want without consequences’. At the time, I failed to realize it was so much more than that. The whole basis of Gentle Teaching isn’t trying to change the individual’s behaviour, but rather changing our approach on how we serve the individuals.

My ability to use Gentle Teaching had never really been challenged until I began supporting at a new home and more specifically supporting one individual at that home. When I began, to be 100 percent honest, I was quite nervous. I had heard all the stories that this was the hardest team to support on. To my surprise, it really wasn’t! I got off to a good start with two of the guys. The only one I hadn’t connected with was one of the guys. Every time I would enter his space or try to interact with him, he would completely shut me down. This really bugged me personally. I am the type of person who really likes to get along with everybody, and at times, will over step boundaries to be liked by that person. This happened one day when I was supporting him. I came in that day with what I thought was a solid game plan. I was going to force myself to stay with him, we were really going to joke around and have an awesome time together. I also had the idea to take him to a Rider practice that day thinking it was going to be an amazing experience. I was completely wrong. Sure, he enjoyed the idea of going to Rider practice and seeing all his favourite players, but he still didn’t feel safe around me. I struggled to interpret what he was saying numerous times throughout the day and it led to numerous negative moments, the worst being at the Rider practice where he hit me. After that day, I came to realize that by forcing myself to be in his space, I had removed one of the most fundamental and most important pillars of Gentle Teaching; feeling safe.

They have taught me if I adjust how I provide care and unconditionally love them, rather than force them to be who they are not, that they will reciprocate it back in their way

In order to fix this, I needed to change how I provided care, while also trying to encompass the tools of Gentle Teaching to build the four pillars. For the next couple of months, I took a step back and really focused on observing, rather than forcing myself into situations for my own personal reasons. I was selective and patient in choosing the times that were appropriate to help strengthen his sense of feeling safe around me. Most of these interactions were focused around watching sports games or going out to grab a drink from 7/11. I tried keeping the interactions short and consistent allowing him to become comfortable around me. As time passed, I was able to get him to feel safe by changing how I provided for him. Once I had the sense of feeling safe around me, the other three pillars (feeling loved, feel loving towards others, and feeling engaged) came much more naturally.

Through my experience with all the individuals I support, they have had an everlasting impact on my life. They have taught me if I adjust how I provide care and unconditionally love them, rather than force them to be who they are not, that they will reciprocate it back in their way.

 

Brydon, COR Family Member

All Day, All Night, Dragon Boat

Labour Day weekend is the marker for many things. It means that school is starting, or that the Bombers are coming to town. Labour Day weekend reminds us that fall is coming; but it can also share with us one last glimmer of summertime! At COR, Labour Day weekend is Dragon Boat season. A weekend where months of practice culminates and give us one final payoff!

This year we were graced with calm waters and sun. A kindness we are not often afforded by the spirit of the Dragon Boats. This opened the door for competitors to be at their best. Especially our crew who were participating in our seventh consecutive festival under the team name ‘Rock You to the COR.’

COR Dragon Boat Team 2016

Our first race had us finishing second in our heat achieving a time of 2 minutes and 33 seconds. It was a solid first race and it made way for a second heat race time of 2:34. A third race was guaranteed to all teams, but not all teams were solidified a birth in the C-Final the way Rock You to the COR did! With close to a three hour break between race 2 and the C final under our belt, we readied ourselves for the final sprint of the day. A race for all the marbles and bragging rights told round water coolers for weeks to come. Dragon Boat glory!

We paddled out long and loose like Coach Brad taught us so many times before. Bobbing and stroking to the familiar beat of a drum. Breathing in and out rhythmically we transformed into a well-oiled machine. The voices from the crowd disappeared and all that was left was our team. Our team versus two other boats.

“Leave it all out on the water; Nothing left in the Tanks!” rings out in the silence. One last message for the team as we approach the starting line. We buried our paddles in Wascana Lake for what seemed like forever, and then a mega phone muffled out the word, ‘GO!’

For two and a half minutes time stood still.

Sport and physical activity brings something out in us. For the most part it finds the best parts of our heart and shares it’s passion with the world. Sometimes it asks that we dig a little deeper and often it exposes the true grit that exists in every ounce of our hard work. To start the season some of us started out as strangers, most of us were colleagues and friends, but today we were C-side champions.

All Day, All Night, Dragon Boat.

Click here for CBC News Coverage of the 2016 Dragon Boat Festival

 

Support Appreciation: A Night of Innovation at the Science Center

COR Supports are invited to join us for a night of innovation at the Saskatchewan Science Center on September 23, 2016. An evening of challenges, laughter and prizes await! Appetizers will be served, along with a cash bar. Personal invitations have been sent by email. We can’t wait to see you!

Thanks for being #AWESOME!

-Michael

Support Appreciation Night

My First Two Weeks with COR

When I first came to COR I didn’t know what to expect. Much like the first day of school, I held my lunch kit close to me – as it is the only thing I knew in my unusual surroundings – and made the tentative first steps towards my desk. I expected the commonplace whisperings from the corners of the office, “Who is that?” “Is that the new guy?” as they avoided all eye contact and slithered back to their desks checking emails all the while telling myself how silly I was for leaving my comfort zone and placing myself in such unfamiliar territory…

Except none of the snickers happened – not did I have regrets for leaving the cocoon that was my last job. I was greeted with smiles, handshakes, and most importantly laughter. Everyone welcomed me and assured me that my first few days were going to be great. They didn’t lie. My first few days flew by as I fell into my new position and started meeting my new colleagues. Any questions I had were greeted with friendly and encouraging answers. It felt great to be part of a positive team again; more importantly it felt that I was an actual team member, an equal; no one was higher or lower on the corporate ladder – we were all one big team working together to help those that we serve.

I have had the chance to experience many community building activities since arriving at COR. I joined the Dragonboat team and even went kayaking with the people with serve – an experience that was so fun, I am thinking of buying my own Kayak! I have been invited out to the art night and cannot wait to attend my first COR BBQ. This is only the tip of the iceberg of activities COR has to offer and I cannot wait to be a part of them all. All of these unforgettable experiences are what makes COR special. You would not be able to find this at any other place of work.

Meeting all the people we serve was the greatest part of my first few weeks. Having limited experience working with people with disabilities had me a little nervous. After the first few days and after meeting quite a few of the people we serve I look forward to having great conversation and interactions with everyone I have met day in and day out – there is no lack of positivity in this workplace and I am elated to have made the step to work at COR.

I am now finishing my second week here at COR and time continues to fly. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything – I am looking forward to many more years with COR and to help all those we serve to smile and laugh every day. Shoot for the Stars!

 

Tom,

Administrative Assistant

 

2016 Learning Workshops

Beginning late August, COR Supports will have the opportunity to take part in a series of Learning Workshops presented on a range of topics by fellow community based organizations. Space is limited.

COR Learning Workshops

All ideas are valued and appreciated

Health and Fitness has always been a passion of mine and I have been trying very hard to promote that within our team. I have taken the lead with healthy grocery shopping and meal planning with the individuals we serve, but I have also been promoting our supports to do the same. When speaking to the team about proper nutrition, I open-the-floor for supports to share their ideas on how to promote a healthy lifestyle as well. All ideas have been valued and appreciated.

I hope to continue to promote health and fitness within our team

The team has come together in encouraging the guys to eat more food in a day and at proper times. I have also made it a priority to have the guys eat as many meals together at the table with their support. It promotes a sense of family and togetherness. I stress the importance of proper nutrition and reduced sugar in our diet. The team has been making better choices with what they buy for foods too.

One of the guys is also taking an interest in his health and he is becoming more internally motivated to keep his body healthy. I cook meals with him every few weeks and then freeze them so he has easy access to healthy and tasty meals that he can warm-up on his own. The rest of our supports have also been taking an initiative in getting him more physically active and eating healthy. I take him to the gym every week and he now looks forward to going and works very hard. My culture of gentleness definitely is reflected in my passion for keeping the individuals we serve physically healthy and happy. I am proud of them for telling me the things they like and don’t like when it comes to healthy meals and being physically active. I am also proud of our supports for being consistent in making health a priority. I hope to continue to promote health and fitness within our team, as it has benefited the overall quality of life with the individuals we serve.

 

Kyla, COR Support