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.
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