I believe I am naturally a very gentle, loving and empathetic person, which made Gentle Teaching an easy concept and philosophy for me to grasp. I remember looking at the COR website before applying and thinking that being employed with this organization would be so rewarding, as I would just have to follow and build off of my values. With additional trainings on the philosophy of Gentle Teaching, I’ve been able to maintain a culture of gentleness within the team of individuals I support by valuing them for who they are and consistently showing them my love and gratitude for our friendships.
Gentle Teaching has certainly pushed me to be the best support and friend possible. The moments in which the Gentle Teaching philosophy and its effect on my growth as a support and individual become most notable to me, are in the moments of conflict. Of course it is easy to be calm and loving when things are going well, but the real test of self lies in times of challenge. I believe that I am able to maintain a culture of gentleness within times of adversity by continuing to offer positive regard, unconditional love, and acceptance. I challenge myself to always make sure that my words, presence, hands, and gaze, display a sense of love and compassion, with an honest desire to help.
I look forward to continuing and building off of the friendships I’ve made at COR for the rest of my life. When supporting, I am constantly reminded of how lucky I am to be in the presence of such wonderful individuals. This only enhances my aspirations of becoming a Gentle Teaching advocate within my support role, as well as within the health region.
Marie-Claire, COR Support
Gentle Teaching is not only valuable to apply with individuals that one supports, but is a wonderful approach for all relationships . It has transformed how I view others in my daily life. Gentle Teaching allows me to think more optimistically towards everyone. It has made me more positive by allowing me to see through people’s flaws and see their past experiences that bring out colourful emotions in high stress situations.
Gentle Teaching has taught me to reflect on how life experience affect how people see themselves and in turn how they act. Poor experiences can affect the way individuals value themselves, develop relationships and deal with conflict. Maintaining this mindset outside of supporting has enhanced the way I interact with others and improved my ability to accept others for who they are. In order to understand a person, one needs to know where they came from. In order to do that, listening and interpreting words is essential for that understanding.
Gentle teaching has taught me that devotion is one of the best tools for teaching. Being devoted to a person is to actively show them that you are a part of their journey and are there to help. Whether it be with my girlfriend, family, my nieces and nephews, my friends or even my dog showing genuine friendliness and enthusiastic support in good moments has a stronger impact than punishing or dwelling on downbeat moments. Letting go of negatively charged moments and using them as teaching moments and celebrating little victories shows a person that you are devoted to their growth and you can grow healthily together. Devotion allows for trust and relationships to grow.
Active listening skills can be improved constantly throughout a person’s life. Working on them continually has improved my communication. Active listening requires not simply hearing what someone says, but hearing their message, the emotion evoked and also paying attention to what is not being said. It has taught me that when people are upset there is at times a deeper issue troubling them. Past trauma speaks through people in times of stress and unresolved negative experiences can often cause people to live in clouds of pain.
Gentle Teaching has caused me to reflect on my own past and consider how I may hold pain from experiences. Recognizing how trauma has affected myself allows me to let go and move on to become a better version of myself. Self reflection has allowed me to think rather than react to situations. Being self aware is key for anyone to grow and live a healthy life and it is constant. Self care and mental health are essential for healthy bodies. Being honest with myself about trauma has allowed me to become a person that is ready to reach out and support others around me. Being comfortable with oneself is very important before someone loans them self to others for support.
Jacob, COR Support
While growing up my family had all kinds of little rituals that, even as a child, I knew were completely unique to my family. Each night before bed, regardless of where we were in the house, once my sister and I were tucked in we would all shout loudly to one another “NIGHT, LOVE YOU, SEE YOU IN THE MORNING!” It became such an important ritual to my sister and I that it would have been unthinkable to try and go to sleep without hearing my parents say those magic words of night time protection. Throughout my childhood, my dad would yell at the top of his lungs “JANA…NICHOLE…FRONT AND CENTER!” In another home those might have been frightening words, but we knew exactly what it meant. We would drop whatever we were doing and come running at full speed to stand in front of my dad with anticipation. Sometimes it was a treat he bought us on the way home, sometimes it was money to go to the store and sometimes it was a surprise or good news to tell us. When we heard those words, we knew that it was going to be good!
We all have small rituals that get us through our day; morning coffee, kiss the kids goodbye, our route to work. These things are like touch stones and once they become ingrained in our day, they become essential to our flow. If I miss a step, or something goes wrong, if I sleep through my alarm for example, it throws my whole day off kilter and sometimes it’s impossible to get it feeling back on track for the rest of the day.
In building our relationships with the people we support, it’s important to remember how unpredictable and chaotic their lives can be and that (to them) we are just another stranger in a long line of strangers that are thrust into their lives. They don’t always have the ability, the insight or even the control to build into their day the small rituals that we all have that keep us emotionally and mentally on track. One of the things I have worked really hard at is creating unique and personalized dialogues with people that I support; inside jokes or small rituals that we do every single time we are together. Whether it’s a song we sing, a running joke that gets repeated at the same time every day or a ritual of sitting together and sipping coffee in silence, you can intentionally build these rituals into your relationship that are unique to just the two of you. By doing so, you set yourself apart in some way from the dozens of care workers that have come before you and create a new and special bond that begins to become a foundation for the friendship that may come with time. Even more important, you will give the person you serve the gift of creating a touchstone for them in their day. Something that they can count on to happen and that brings a feeling of safety and security and something that they will inevitably begin to associate with you.
When things get scary in life and when our world begins to fall apart, there are people, places and things that we count on to hold on to, to remind us of who we are. To this day, if I crash at my parents house, you will hear us yelling from room to room, just before we fall off to sleep, “NIGHT, LOVE YOU, SEE YOU IN THE MORNING!”
– Nichole Gooding, Team Leader
A culture of gentleness for me has come naturally by genuinely caring for the three gentlemen I serve. Since I started at COR almost one year ago I have created relationships with the three guys I serve that without a doubt will last a lifetime. Being able to care for someone on a daily basis and watch them grow as people has been one of the most professionally satisfying accomplishments to date. Watching the look on the guys faces while they do things they love can turn even the worst of days around in a heart beat.
I would have to say I more so reciprocate a culture of gentleness however. To say I create a culture of gentleness would minimize the amount of caring that these individuals show us who come in to serve them. The three guys I support have some of the biggest hearts I have ever met. They will share what ever it is they have with out batting an eye. I strongly believe the culture of gentleness is created by those who we serve.
Danny, COR Support
When I heard the philosophy of Gentle Teaching, it seemed like the most simple and effective way of giving the individuals we support at COR the best quality of life. Safe, loved, loving and engaged- the four pillars that make up Gentle Teaching- make so much sense! When I look at my own life, I know that with these four pillars present I feel the most valued so I want to always make sure that the girls I support feel that way too.
Whether the girls are having a good day or a bad day, I feel like it is important to make sure they know they are still loved unconditionally and supported no matter what. I want them to feel that they can approach me and feel comfortable to communicate and be themselves with me. I feel that I best deliver a culture of gentleness through my communication. I let the girls know that I am here for them, we build trust in each other, and strong relationships form. I always remember that the girls are people first. We all go through rough times but that doesn’t mean that they are any less than anyone else. When, for example, the girls feel down, maybe frustrated or upset, we use our ability to communicate to help them get back to feeling their best. It is important for them to know that they are not bad nor have done something wrong. Instead, we talk through the situation in a way which lets them know that they are still supported and loved and our relationship has not changed. Having patience and a sense of calmness often works in the house that I support at. When the girls see that I am open to helping them and keeping them feeling safe and loved they respond better in the ways we communicate.
I feel like in order to maintain a culture of gentleness it is important to not think of supporting as work. At the end of the day, yes this is a job, but it is so much more than that. How many jobs allow you to help improve the lives of others while building such meaningful relationships with those individuals? The benefits I see in the individuals lives that come from the culture of gentle teaching make my life as a support so rewarding. Because of the benefits I see with Ruby and Lanie and the way Gentle Teaching works with them it motivates me to continue the way I approach my support times with the girls. They have experienced a lot of change in the last 6 months which can easily take a toll on them. Seeing the way our team has used gentle teaching over these last 6 months and the positive improvements it has made with the girls just reinforces once again the impact that it has and the importance of maintaining it in the way we support.
Elise, COR Support