What does community mean to you? This is a question we asked our OBA students as the 2021/2022 school year came to a close. The answers ranged from family, friends, and church to hockey, pets, and the cities they lived in. But a common answer among many students was OBA. And that’s exactly what OBA is to so many, a community of people who have come together with shared values to overcome the many obstacles that life throws at us.
I started this job four years ago, not realizing the difference this community would make in my own life. And I think that’s what makes OBA so unique, we as staff really embrace all that we teach. In year one, we learned the ins and outs of Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) together. We practiced with our students, at meetings, and at training. And eventually, it became a part of our lives. It’s embedded in our language, the way we approach uncomfortable situations, and the way we parent. When you really embrace something, it becomes a passion. It becomes a way of living, and when our students see us modeling the behaviour we are teaching, it makes it that much more likely for them to embrace it in the same way.
I knew that by practicing what we teach, my son’s life could also be changed.
As a mom of a little boy starting his own adventure into JK this year, I really saw the effectiveness of what we teach and how my parenting style has changed because of this job. My boy had a really tough time transitioning to school on his first day and luckily we had the weekend to work on some strategies that would help him to be successful. We were able to talk about all the feelings he had, where he felt them (“My tummy of course Mom, I felt so sick!”), and what we can do when we feel that way. We labeled these things as feeling nervous, and practiced our five finger breathing all weekend. He came home on Monday and said to me, “Mommy, today was so good! I had so much fun! I was nervous at the start and I counted in my head, but I didn’t even need to do my five finger breathing! I knew I wasn’t sick and counting helped it go away!” My heart melted a little bit, and I knew that at four years old, he had already learned a way to deal with anxiety. I knew that by practicing what we teach, my son’s life could also be changed. And what a feeling that was!
Being a part of the OBA community has changed my perspective in so many ways. We as staff, come from so many different paths in life, bringing with us different knowledge and experiences. But we have all come together for the same reason, to help our students academically, but more importantly to help them regulate their emotions and learn in a way that is guided by their own values. We teach our students through instruction and modeling, the importance of academics, healthy behaviour strategies, and the life skills that are all needed for a happy and autonomous life. We teach in a way that makes us unique in comparison to other schools. And I will forever be grateful for that!
Welcome to our new OBA Monthly, where we will get to share with you some of our experiences and give some insight into what it is that makes us so unique. While also providing some helpful tools and strategies of course!