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Mar 15
Life Lessons in the Kitchen

​“Keeping it real" is how Chef Instructor Gordon Bailey describes his approach to teaching for learning. “Just because someone can cook does not mean they will become a successful chef," he explains. “I do my best to instill the importance of becoming the complete package. I am active in culinary competitions and keep current with modern cooking trends, which allows me to share the latest information with students to give them their best shot possible!" 

Born and raised in Manitoba, Gordon moved to Prince Edward Island in 1997 “to cook seafood for a year". He ended up staying for 17 and owning three different restaurants during his time on the island. When he returned to his prairie roots, he joined RRC as an instructor.

“My experience of restaurant ownership allows me to bring a realistic approach to what students should learn on the food costing, staffing and management side of this business -- the not-so-candy-coated version," he says. “I get the students to do extensive costing exercises to help them understand just how tight the profit margins are in the food service industry."

Gordon brings his own industry experience into his teaching through stories of the good, the bad and the ugly that he knows first-hand. “Chefs often burn out and lose sight of what is important, so I always have a few stories of how this related to me," he says. 

Gordon with students (2).jpgFood is a lifelong passion of Gordon's – just ask him about his Scallops au Gratin dish! – but teaching is his inspiration. Seeing students improve their knowledge and skills week by week is rewarding, says Gordon, but watching two of his students win a national competition was a stand-out moment. “Watching Argie (right in photo) and Anthony place first and second in the national Young Chef's Challenge in Toronto in January was awesome! (RRC students win big​) ​It was a long road with lots of practice and time invested with the best possible outcome."

Congratulations to Gordon on his teaching and mentoring of RRC students – and all the best to Argie who will represent Canada at the World Chefs Congress in Russia in 2020. 


How do you incorporate your industry experience into your teaching? Sign in above, then comment below to join the conversation.

Photo source: RRC online  

Mar 08
Responding to Students' Lives
  • “I can't make it to class, because I've landed in the Remand Centre overnight and won't be released in time." 
  • “I've been late for class recently, because I don't have a place to live yet and I've been couch surfing at my relatives." 
  • “My family isn't financially secure, and I can't afford to feed myself properly."
  • “I know I'm falling asleep in class, but it's because I work the midnight shift and come straight to school from the plant." 

These are all actual statements either a colleague or I have heard from students. Maybe you've heard something similar, too?

I think a lot about the burdens our students bring with them into the classroom, and I try to keep those burdens in mind when weighing the importance of a missed deadline or poorly completed assignment against the life challenges they are facing. And I get caught sometimes. Caught between holding standards firm and clear for each and every student, and making allowances for circumstances the likes of which I have never had to face in my privileged life. 

Students must earn their credential from RRC, I know that. And I firmly believe we must hold them to account as adult learners. But what margin is the right margin to give them in the face of sometimes very challenging personal circumstances? 

How can any student learn effectively when hungry? When sleep deprived? When homeless? And how can we best teach for learning when our students are carrying heavy burdens in their personal lives?

​I'm not looking for easy answers here, because there are no easy answers. But I am wondering what your experience is with students who are struggling with life's circumstances. I'm asking for your wisdom in how you deal with them.


Sign in above, then comment below to join the conversation. 



Mar 01
Pictures Tell The Story!

Lee Jones.jpg This week, meet Lee Jones. She is a Theory Nursing Instructor at the Notre Dame Campus in the Baccalaureate Nursing Program.


We are pleased to share in Faculty Fridays a unique arts-based assessment technique that Lee uses in her Discipline of Professional Nursing 5 course. We think it has application in many College classrooms!


The course is called Issues, Politics, Public Policy and Professional Nursing. To demonstrate the learning objectives of the module students are required to create a Photo Essay. Essentially, a Photo Essay is a series of photographs presented sequentially in a Powerpoint presentation with accompanying music and text.


The purpose of the assignment is to highlight a social justice issue that is occurring locally, in Manitoba or a specific Manitoba community. The students must provide an analysis of the issue, barriers to resolution and strategies to address the barriers.


Here’s how it works. Students must take a minimum of 12 original photos. Each photo is displayed with a paragraph or selection of text; and set to music that the students choose.


During class, each group of students is given a brief opportunity to introduce why they chose the particular social issue and why they chose the accompanying music. Then, the Photo Essay runs for 12-15 minutes. All students have an opportunity to watch their classmates’ Photo Essays in class. Several groups have taken the opportunity to feature their Photo Essay at the Applied Research and Innovation Day held each February.


While all information is required to be scholarly and evidence-based, the inclusion of photos and music into the assessment allows students to demonstrate creativity in presenting their topic of interest.


Well done, Lee!


Do you have a creative assessment technique that you use, or that you are thinking about using? Sign in above and share it with your colleagues. 

Feb 22
Great Teachers Aren't Born. They're Inspired and Supported.

Have you heard of the Great Teacher Seminar?

This “un" conference is taking place again May 13-16, 2019 and you're invited!

It's a unique peer-based professional development opportunity – by teachers, for teachers. This week we're sharing stories of our experience attending the GTS.

Amanda: I had been teaching at RRC for less than four years when I attended the GTS in May 2010, and I was nervous and awe struck in equal measure at the thought of spending almost four days in the company of other College instructors. Obviously, they would all know way more than me, and it would take them less than a heartbeat to figure out that I was a fraud and should be sent packing right home again. Well. That's not how it went down at all. Quite the opposite. I was welcomed and, together with my colleagues from RRC, ACC and UCN, I dived right into discussions, activities and active learning about teaching. And I learned a metric ton – about teaching, about myself, and about students. It was great.

Janine: I attended the last GTS in 2017. I was intimidated by the title “great"; but decided to give it a try. I remember feeling a bit unsettled at the beginning. But then, as often happens with learning, pieces fell into place. I reflected; I brainstormed; I shared; I learned; and, I had a lot of fun! If you are genuinely interested in “becoming great", this is for you.

The GTS is about peer-based learning in a safe, creative and engaging context that is guaranteed to bring out the best in you and what you have to offer other Instructors and what you can learn from them. It's intense, amazing and 100% rewarding.

This year's GTS will take place May 13 to 16 at the Elkhorn Resort in Riding Mountain National Park. It's a beautiful setting for the work. You should go! Ask your Chair to sponsor your attendance; space is limited, so check out the details here.


Sign in above, then post a comment about your own experience at the GTS. What would you say to inspire a peer to attend?

Feb 15
BRAVO to Marc Desrosiers

This week the recipients of RRC's 2019 BRAVO Awards were announced. These awards are the highest form of peer-recognized achievement at RRC.

Amanda and I extend our sincere congratulations to all 2019 winners. And today, we'd like to profile the Teaching Excellence Award recipient.

Marc Desrosiers, a Business Administration Instructor at our Steinbach campus is the 2019 BRAVO Award winner for Teaching Excellence.

When asked to describe his approach in the classroom, some 2nd year students shared the following words: Marc Desrosiers.jpg

  • Enthusiastic
  • Entertaining
  • Comfortable
  • Knowledgeable
  • Inclusive
  • Approachable
  • Fun
  • Ambitious

We connected with Marc to learn a bit more the principles that guide his teaching practice.

What motivates you to go above and beyond as an Instructor?

  • The students' futures are what motivate me to strive for excellence. They need all of their instructors, individually and collectively, to become the newest leaders and dynamic force in our society. As a teacher, I believe it to be my duty to empower them to my best capability, and to encourage them to strive to their highest capacity.

What are you passionate about outside of teaching?

  • I am a Manitoba appointed Marriage Commissioner and have performed more than 600 weddings over the past 25 years. Performing that special function is clearly a passion. In those numbers are included a number of my former RRC students as well!

What is one thing we don't know about you?

  • Together with my wife Doreene – who is one of my biggest supporters – we established the Marc and Doreene Desrosiers Awards at RRC. It is our way of "giving back" and remembering our own 'student days'.

I have had the pleasure of collaborating with Marc over the past number of years as we teach common courses, and I'm so pleased to see his work recognized by peers with this award.

Please join us in congratulating Marc on this achievement!

Feb 08
Managing Disruptive Behaviour in the Shop or Classroom

Unexpected or inappropriate student behaviour can throw the best lesson plan off track. How to respond? How to recover? 

STORM max-larochelle-421822-unsplash.jpgThis week we're crowdsourcing your tips and tricks for pulling things back into line when you're thrown a non-teaching-related curve ball by your students. For example, what do you do or how do you respond when…

  • Repeated flatulence lets loose?
  • Chewing gum is smacked loudly during your lecture?
  • Excessive body odour permeates the air?
  • A pen cap is clicked on and off during a test?
  • Side conversations are happening while you're talking?
  • Phones are being used during a book-based group activity

Our students are adults and, ideally, collaborators in our teaching for learning. Within that context, then, what does corrective action look like in your shop or classroom? We've had several inquiries from readers about how to handle the issues noted above and we're keen to learn from you.


Sign in above then comment below to join in the conversation.

Photo by Max Larochelle from Unsplash.com 

Feb 01
Additional Applied Learning in Business Administration

The focus of Faculty Fridays is teaching for learning.

I'm delighted to share an impressive example of teaching for learning within my department, Business Administration.

I'd like to introduce you to Instructors George Allen, Ilija Dragojevic, Harv Mock and Jeff McMaster.

Several years ago, George and Ilija, who both teach at EDC, were keen to provide their students with more real world, applied learning opportunities.

So, they tapped their contacts in business and found some business problems that could be solved by students. Then they found students who were interested in working on these projects outside of class.

It was the start of what is now known informally as the Business Solutions Team.

Business Solutions Teams are short-term student projects aimed at meeting the needs of real clients, guided and mentored by Instructors.

Business Solutions Team.jpgFor example, together with students in Business Information Technology, one BST developed an interview-based app to allow users to complete basic family law documents. They have completed market analyses. They have developed marketing plans, and so on. In total, there have been nine BSTs over the past two years.

Harv Mock.jpgThis year, Harv Mock and Jeff McMaster are adding their leadership and expertise. They are currently leading a BST at NDC. They are mentoring students working on a comprehensive business plan for a Manitoba start up – including industry and competition research, target market analyses, administration and operations plan, financial plan, etc.

George, Ilija, Jeff and Harv have never received any hours for the work they do. This has been on top of their normal teaching duties, and it's driven by teaching for learning. Jeff McMaster.jpg

Guys, thank you for raising the bar of real world, applied opportunities for our Business Administration students.

Felipe Matoso was part of the first ever BST. He now has a term position at the college as a Marketing Officer and is adding his leadership to the current BST too. He adds, “the Business Solutions Team provided me with the hands-on experience that I needed to start a new career in a new country. I was able to develop the equivalent of at least another year of experience with the BST, which was a huge differential to get interviews and job offers right after graduation. I think work-integrated learning is the future of the polytechnic model, and the BSTs offer that reality."



First: Ilija (second row, far left), George (rear row, second from right) with the first Business Solutions Team of which Felipe was a member (rear row, far left).

Second: Harv Mock

Third: Jeff McMaster

Jan 25
Practice Makes Progress

​We do it every day and, still, we're not perfect at it. Well, at least, I'm not perfect at being an instructor yet. But what I really like about the work of teaching students at the college level is exactly that: I'm learning every day how to do my job better. Perfection is fantasy, so my eye is on continual progress instead.

Practice Makes Progress.jpgI like to think of instructors' work as ongoing and never-ending professional development in real time: We deliver the lesson. We assess how effective our plan was. We revise it. We do it again. And so on... Our learning is practical, in real time, and the rewards are tangible, when we're willing to keep practicing in order to keep making progress in our craft.

Sometimes, it's as simple as asking a colleague for feedback on a new assignment I've developed. Sometimes, it's more complicated and involves me asking a peer if I can watch how they deliver a lesson I'm not yet fully confident delivering myself. I have gained a lot from this particular method of learning my craft; for example, I still use the approach and the activities for teaching about conflict management that I learned by watching Teresa Menzies deliver that module to her students.

For me, teaching is not a solo act. For me, it takes a village to get a lesson delivered, and my peers are my village neighbours. I rely on them to be willing to work with me as I continue to make progress in my practice.


What things, big or small, do you do to continue making progress in your teaching practice? Sign in above, then comment below to join the conversation.

Jan 18
Take a Seat!

Mix and match the students, give them materials and time, add some glue and fasteners, and what do you have? An innovative end-of-term activity that engages students in trade-specific hands-on learning.

It's the brainchild of Cabinetry & Woodworking Instructors Vern Bergen, Aubrey Doerksen and Frank Jess, and it took place on the last day of term before the holiday break. 

The activity required three different groups of students at different stages in their Cabinetry programs to work together in small groups. Their task was to design and then build a chair using only two 8-foot-long spruce 2x4s – in just three and a half hours! The only rules were to be safe, creative and willing to adapt to the team's best ideas.Aubrey's Chair Activity.jpg

Civilian judges, including Christine Watson, judged the chairs for strength, comfort, appearance, and creativity. Every judge awarded points in each category for their top chairs, and the three chairs with the highest overall points were the winners. The winning teams were rewarded with a selection of tools related to their trade.

“The activity is a great way for students to wrap up the term and flex their design, build, and team skills all in one," said Aubrey. “They can see what they have actually learned throughout their time in the program and apply it in a situation that has minimal restrictions to creativity.  I love seeing them get creative and practice working together with other students who have different competencies – their strengths really shine as they problem-solve cooperatively toward a common goal."

Teaching for learning doesn't get better than that, does it!


How are you able to bring hands-on learning into your teaching in the classroom or shop? Sign in above, then comment below to join the conversation.

Jan 11
Office Hours in the 21st Century

Q. When is an hour not an hour at all?

A. When it's an office hour! badhon-ebrahim-1169302-unsplash.jpg

As Instructors, we have a responsibility to be reasonably available to students outside of class. What does that look like in your teaching practice?

In my area, the course outline includes a spot where I can insert my specific office hours. I state that I am available “by appointment only", so that students know I'm accessible to them outside of class time, but they must book time with me in advance. In addition, I tell students they are welcome to email me with questions or concerns about class work or assignments.

In Janine's department, where multiple instructors teach many different sections of the same course each term, the course outlines include neither instructor name nor office hours. Instead, those details are posted on LEARN, and/or instructions about office hours are posted outside instructor offices.

How does it work in your area?

  • Do you hold regular office hours, during which your students can drop in for one-on-one time with you?
  • Do you offer office hours through booked appointments?
  • Do you offer virtual one-on-one time (via email or WebEx, for example) instead of offering face-to-face time in your office?
  • Do your students take you up on your offer, regardless of its format?
  • Or are office hours a thing of the past in your teaching world?


Sign in above, then comment below to join the conversation!

Image source: Photo by Badhon Ebrahim on Unsplash

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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. ​

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