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Faculty Fridays Blog

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Sep 22
The Triple M

Today I'm thrilled to share that our colleague Murray Thiessen, Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic Instructor, recently received the Mervin Maxwell Award.

This award was established in February 2009 to honour the memory of Mervin Maxwell, a dedicated long-term Instructor and the first Coordinator in the Certificate in Adult Education (CAE) program at Red River College. 

Mervin was a well-respected adult educator who spent his career educating teachers. His passion for his work stemmed from the belief that knowledge and skills related to teaching and learning are as equally important as subject matter expertise.

Murray Thiessen.jpgMurray won the award for completing the CAE program in a manner which demonstrates a commitment to life-long learning and professional development that supports the distinctive ideals of adult learning.

Murray Thiessen 2.jpgI can't think of a better fit. I had the pleasure of meeting Murray when we were in the first Teaching Essentials Programs (TEP) cohort together in 2013. We took several CAE courses together too.

Indeed, Murray is a dedicated teacher. He is also a skilled tradesman, proud father and grandfather, and all around nice guy.

Murray began his CAE in January of 2014, finished in about two and half years, and formally graduated this past February.

I asked him about the impact the CAE program had on developing his teaching practice:  

"The CAE program helped me realize the value of a lesson plan. It also showed me the value of being prepared for the next day.  Because of the program I now have contacts in other departments. This gives me a valuable resource to aid in my teaching career."

Congratulations Murray.


How has the Certificate in Adult Education (CAE) positively affected your teaching practice? Leave a comment or contact us directly at or

Sep 15
The Teachable Teacher

I was fortunate to be part of the first-ever Teaching Essentials Program (TEP) at RRC. It's a crash course for new Instructors on effective adult education.

One of my Instructors, the recently retired Doug Cameron, encouraged us to seek feedback from our students on our teaching practice.

That was an "aha moment" for me. I resolved then, before I had even stepped foot in a classroom, to be a teachable teacher.

Colin Antaya.jpgMeet Colin Antaya. He's been with RRC for the past 12 years. He's taught in Related Math & Science, Access and Apprenticeship programs. This spring he moved over to the Teacher Education department to teach CAE courses, where he will continue to seek feedback from students early and often.

Colin regularly asks students for anonymous, informal feedback about what is working, what is not, and what is missing that would better support their learning.

Kudos to Colin and all Instructors who are asking for and acting upon student feedback while there is time in the course to pivot and better support your learners. If you've not yet adopted this practice, why not try it in just one of your courses?

A recent newsletter article I read described the benefits of talking to students about the feedback. I have experienced many of the benefits listed in the article:

  • It demonstrates to students that I have actually read their feedback.
  • It's invigorating for me to share what's working. 
  • It allows me to ask for clarification on their feedback or allows me to explain why I can't accommodate their feedback.
  • It makes students more open to my feedback as I model effective ways to respond to negative or constructive feedback. (Weimer, 2016)

Be humble. Request feedback.

Be courageous. Share the feedback.

Be professional. Act on the feedback.


What approach do you use for gathering regular student feedback on your teaching? Leave a comment or contact us directly at or

The AIR site (Anytime/Anywhere Instructor Resources) has some templates for your consideration.


Weimer, M. (2016, June 15). Benefits of Talking with Students about Mid-Course Evaluations. Retrieved from Faculty Focus by Magna Publications.

Sep 08
Join the Debate

Teresa Menzies 1.jpgMeet Teresa Menzies. She is the President of our Local #73 and our Union Officer. She is also a master teacher. I know, I was one of her students.

When she taught me my first CAE course, she introduced me to a technique called a Stand Up Debate.

It's a powerful and versatile tool that I use often in my classroom.

Here is how it works.

Teresa Menzies.jpgMake up two signs – one that says "Agree" and one that says "Disagree". Post each one on either side of the classroom. Then read a statement and ask students to "vote with their feet". For example, in Marketing, I may say something like: "Marketers create needs". If I was teaching a class on engines for the Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic program, I may say something like: "Oil filters should be filled prior to installation".* The best statements are those that have sound arguments on both sides.   

Once students have moved to one side of the classroom or the other, ask them why they voted in that way. If everybody happens to go to one side then be prepared to make the arguments for the other side.

There are many ways to use this technique.

  • Use it as an activation activity at the start of class to see what students already know about a particular subject.
  • Use it as an application activity by writing deeper statements.
  • Use it as a review activity at the end of class to see what students have learned.

Give it a try. Join the debate.


How do you make your classroom active? Leave a comment or contact us directly at or

* Special thanks to Murray Thiessen, Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic Instructor, for giving me a relevant example from his trade.

Sep 01
Teaching for Learning

Selfie with Marketing Section 2.jpgWhen I worked in industry, I reported to a particularly wise VP. When we were discussing my projects, she would often remind me, "Janine, don't make perfect the enemy of good."

My co-editor of this blog, Amanda Le Rougetel, has a lovely variation of that quote: "Perfection is the enemy of achievement."

In fact, at this year's Red Forum our keynote speaker David Zinger defined engagement as: "Good work done well with others every day."

Indeed, good is good. I don't mean merely 'good enough'; I mean good. Good – as in effective, insightful, enthusiastic…and more.

That is the perspective from which Amanda and I approach this blog. We are excited about good teaching, and we are excited about exploring and profiling good teaching, in all its forms, at RRC.

It may be the instructor who always comes early to class to build rapport with students. It may be the extraordinary classroom activity or technique. It may be returning assessments in a timely way with helpful feedback. Or it may be the Instructor who revises lessons to meet the unique needs of all learners.  

Regardless of the specifics, we define good teaching as teaching for learning.

As a new academic year begins for many Instructors, what do you do to help your students truly learn? That is good teaching – and that's what we want to profile in this blog. 

So here's our tagline: Faculty Fridays is a blog to celebrate and nurture good teaching. Together, we'll put a face on teaching for learning at RRC.

Join us!


In what areas of your practice are you good? What areas need improvement? Leave a comment or contact us directly at or

Aug 30
Welcome to Faculty Fridays

If you're an Instructor at RRC, this blog is for you. Faculty Fridays is a blog to celebrate and nurture good teaching. Together, we'll put a face on teaching for learning at RRC.

Meet your co-editors!

Janine Carmichael.jpgJanine Carmichael: Business Administration Instructor and recent BRAVO! Award winner for Excellence in Teaching.

  • "My teaching mentor once told me that a big component of effective teaching is the passing along of enthusiasm. I hope my students receive that in spades in my classroom. And I hope you'll find that from the words I share in this blog."  

  • Connect with Janine at

Amanda LeRougtel.jpgAmanda Le Rougetel: Technical Communication Instructor at RRC since 2006 and President of the RRC Faculty Association.

  • "When I first started teaching, a friend encouraged me to choose between managing my classroom through discipline or relationships. I chose the latter. I look forward to developing deeper relationships with colleagues through Faculty Fridays."

  • Connect with Amanda at


We'd love to profile you or your idea in an upcoming post. What is working for you in the classroom, the shop or the lab? Whether your idea is big or small, we want to hear from you! Leave a comment or contact us directly at or

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Faculty Fridays is a blog to celebrate and nurture good teaching. Together, we'll put a face on teaching for learning at RRC. ​

Join us!