Focus on Teaching Conference
Thanks for attending FOTC 2023!
Excellence in teaching and engaging students in learning is both challenging and exciting. The Focus on Teaching Conference (FOTC) has traditionally provided a forum to:
- celebrate the work of teachers in a fun, engaging and rewarding way;
- dialogue with colleagues from across disciplines;
- engage in informed and constructive conversations related to the complexities of teaching and learning; and
- share strategies and insights that increase teaching and learning effectiveness.
Celebrating our achievements
About the Focus on Teaching Conference
What a year! Now, more than ever, we want to recognize all the ways members of our Georgian community work together, create and share knowledge, and connect learning.
Each year, the Focus on Teaching Conference brings together our Georgian community to share practices, experiences and insights about learning and teaching. Faculty and students continue to work together to explore new learning and venture into amazing futures. Thus, we invite you to join us in sharing innovative ideas and developing new passions that re-invigorate our teaching practice and our lives. We’re excited to support and inspire our community of teachers and celebrate as we recognize all the ways we work together, create and share knowledge, and connect learning inside and outside the classroom.
Registration *HIDDEN SECTION*
Registration is now OPEN!
Register for FOTC 2023 here, or follow the QR code to use the Eventee app on your mobile device for the best experience!
We all know it. At Georgian, we are BETTER TOGETHER. Join us for two days of celebrating that fact.
- On Wednesday, May 3 from 12:30 to 8 p.m., take part in our keynote presentation with Michelle Hillier, engage with peers in breakout sessions, explore new digital innovations and participate in our social event.
- On Thursday, May 4, join us at 8:45 a.m. to celebrate our annual Teaching Excellence Award winners, hear from our student panel, explore the Tech Café and wrap up the day celebrating academic excellence with Vice President, Academic, Dr. Yael Katz.
We’re still working on the schedule and the sessions, but you can see the conference schedule framework when you register. Remember to check out BOTH days of the event. Looking forward to connecting with you on May 3 and 4! In the meantime, please follow us on Twitter @FOTC2023 for news and activities.
Be one of the first 30 participants to register and you’ll automatically become eligible for the early bird draw. You’ll also be included in the FOTC is Almost Here draw on April 28.
Excellence in teaching and engaging students in learning is both challenging and exciting. The Focus on Teaching Conference has traditionally provided a forum to:
- celebrate the work of teachers in a fun, engaging, and rewarding way;
- dialogue with colleagues from across disciplines;
- engage in informed and constructive conversations related to the complexities of teaching and learning;
- share strategies and insights that increase teaching and learning effectiveness.
If you require assistance with registration, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via email.
Session proposals are still being accepted. Deadline is extended to Monday, April 10 at noon.
*HIDDEN SECTION* Ryan, this is here not to mess up the white/grey background ordering 🙂
When was the last time you really felt like your authentic self? This question trips so many people up. But remembering when you last felt truly at “home” with yourself can have a remarkable impact in your work and life. During Michelle’s interactive virtual keynote, she’ll share her personal journey of recovery and provide actionable takeaways to inspire the audience to find happiness within themselves. Using personal reflection, mindfulness and intentional movement, she’ll have us zooming into our authentic self – the self you may have lost along the way. Get curious and come home. Your inner flame hasn’t gone out.
Finding her own personal Breath & Fire has transformed Michelle’s life. Her inner flame, which was either a pilot light or a blazing inferno, is now a controlled blaze. She’s been on her own intimate healing path of recovery since 2017 from double hip replacement surgery, alcohol use disorder, grief, and a marital separation which has created a deeper sense of compassion and understanding for herself. Essentially, a road to self-love. It’s Michelle’s desire to create experiences for others that hold space for them to find their own Breath & Fire within life’s journey. Over the last two decades, Michelle has been a sought after educator, speaker (TEDx) and published author/content creator. She has transformed millions of lives with her message through large crowd presentations, workshops, trainings, content creation and one-on-one coaching and experiences. Her work has spanned a broad range of industries taking her internationally with her message.
Michelle is a dance and movement specialist, wellness and recovery coach, certified yoga and fitness teacher, mindfulness/meditation teacher, and former professional dancer. She has seamlessly merged all her passions, skills, qualifications and personal experiences to create Breath & Fire to share with individuals, groups and organizations.
Call for proposals *HIDDEN SECTION*
Call for proposals now open!
The deadline for submissions has been extended until April 10 at noon.
Now, more than ever, we want to recognize all the ways members of our Georgian community work together, create and share knowledge, and connect learning. Everyone is invited to join us in sharing innovative ideas and developing new passions that re-invigorate our teaching practice and our lives. No idea or passion is too small – every little success is important. We’re excited to support and inspire our community of educators!
The conference will open with our keynote speaker – Michelle Hillier, of Breath & Fire. Her talk will focus on “Find your Breath. Ignite your Fire.”
In this call for proposals, we encourage all interested presenters to consider sharing their ideas and passions. All types of sessions are welcome. As educators, we are BETTER TOGETHER. Sharing and learning from each other makes everyone better!
We’re offering two session lengths:
- Lightning Learning sessions will be 25 minutes in length and will consist of a short, focused presentation (up to 20 minutes) with the remainder of the time allotted to answer questions from the group.
- Interactive Workshops will be 50 minutes in length and will consist of a structured session that includes interaction and exchange of information between and among participants.
The majority of sessions will be offered the afternoon of Wednesday, May 3 afternoon. Select sessions will run the morning of Thursday, May 4.
Sessions can be simple and easy. Perhaps you have an assignment or teaching technique that has worked well for you. Maybe your students developed an amazing project, or there’s a tech tool that you think others would benefit from using. Any topics that support faculty growth and development are welcome. Our hope is that educators at Georgian and beyond will find value to sharing and learning from each other.
We’re inspired by the generosity of past presenters, and we look forward to your submissions for this year’s conference. Our teaching and learning community is enriched by your willingness to share your expertise and experiences!
*HIDDEN SECTION* Ryan, this is here not to mess up the white/grey background ordering 🙂
Teaching Excellence Awards
Congratulations to our inspiring winners!
Artemise is celebrated as an exemplary collaborator and a mentor at Georgian.
Her nomination supporters note her 15-year devotion to the program, her students, and the college, as “unparalleled.” As co-ordinator of the Hospitality – Hotel Resort Operations Management program, she is continually adapting and reworking the program to work with our industry partners. Her connection and collaboration with community partners has contributed to “authentic experiences for our students” that enhances student learning.
Two new courses recently developed in her program – Sustainable Resort Operations and the Capstone course had over 120 students visiting resorts in the fall to create sustainable action plan reports – Economical, Environmental, and Societal recommendations, the response to these has included authentic learning for students and connection with our sustainable development goals at the college. Additionally, other industry partners have come forward to work with Georgian.
Her most recent project has her team joining with Freed Resorts, owner of Deerhurst Resort, Horseshoe Resort, Muskoka Bay Resorts, and Blue Mountain properties. Over 100 students spend four days working at one of these resorts to help run their operations. Students have an opportunity to work in every position and be mentored and shadowed by industry. Projects such as these result in job offers for students. Over 20 faculty have worked on this, and Arthemise has been credited with leadership, communications, and development for all stages of the project.
It wouldn’t be a complete celebration blurb without noting what one nominator said: “Outside of Arthemise just being an exceptional human being, she is the definition of a collaborator and mentor.”
According to her nominators, Sue is the embodiment of what an academic should be; kind in spirit, and diligent in her pursuit of always moving forward and improving herself and the college. Her nominators paint a picture of her 22 years at the Georgian as framed by passion, entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, collaboration and dedication.
Sue’s willingness to take on new initiatives and work collaboratively with her peers and colleagues is a testament to her exceptional abilities and collaborative nature.
Two noted initiatives include The Academic Lead – pathways, planning and development project. The Academic Lead serves as a single point of contact for academic areas looking to build effective academic pathways, transfer articulation agreements and proactive strategies for recognizing credit for prior learning and is responsible for contributing to a culture of student mobility and success. Sue’s work has included launching a network of support tools related to Georgians new digital innovation strategy for digitizing the transfer credit and Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) process. She also trains, mentors and supports co-ordinators and faculty.
As a long-standing program co-ordinator, Sue consistently innovates to deliver content that meets the needs of diverse learners. Sue led or supported the launch of several new credentials at Georgian and has been a member of Academic Council, Faculty Welcome Committee, and the Professional Development Committee. Sue has worked diligently to foster community connections for her Program Advisory Committee (PAC), in order to aid her students, find placements and co-ops, and is an avid supporter of practical learning experiences from field trips to guest speakers, and community partnerships for group projects.
Her students speak volumes:
“…Sue Lemmon has been the kindest and most helpful woman” – Mikaela Totten RALS
“…she is really a wonderful lady…” – Nadeem Mohammed, FAHP
“How do we vote for Sue?” (to receive the award)” – Evan Lynch, FAHP
Amanda is celebrated as an innovative faculty practicing numerous roles including designer, researcher, inclusive practitioner, changemaker, collaborator, reflector and mentor to students and peers.
Her nominator team cites her commitment to Georgian’s strategic values as exemplary. She demonstrates “dedication to the main values reflected in Georgian’s strategic plan, including providing unrivaled student experience, offering technology-enabled learning and advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion by supporting international students in overcoming all kinds of barriers on their journey to academic success.”
Amanda’s recent work on an Open Educational Resources has helped offset the costs associated with textbooks for students.
Amanda has made valuable contributions to Liberal Arts, particularly in the areas of Academic Integrity and Open Educational Resources. She is a role model for excellence in teaching at Georgian College. As lead faculty for Dynamic Presentations, Amanda regularly shares her material and guides new faculty, and she is often sought by colleagues looking for advice.
Her passion for teaching and learning is demonstrated by her creativity in trying new ways of delivering content and assessing the students’ learning.
According to one of her students, “She provides clear instructions and uses multimedia resources to emphasize key concepts. She also offers personalized feedback which has helped me greatly to learn the foundations of academic writing and improve my understanding of the course material. She made me feel confident and supported and was always approachable and understanding. I highly recommend her to as a worthy recipient of Teaching Excellence Award.”
Richard clearly embodies all of the roles associated with being an innovative faculty member.
This is most notably demonstrated through the submission of three nomination packages supported by twelve diverse nominators ranging from previous and current students, faculty peers who include previous students who came back to teach, current faculty peers and retirees, as well as PAC members and community partners. They all paint a picture of a teacher who has demonstrated a deep commitment to excellence in his teaching practice and has had a lasting impact on the learning experiences of his students over the past two decades.
Coined a “rock star teacher” by one submitter, Richard works tirelessly to create extraordinary student learning experiences by building synergistic partnerships with research and data analytics companies, because of this student gain increased opportunities to apply their skills to real-world work-integrated project opportunities while simultaneously providing great value to these organizations.
And his care doesn’t stop at the course level. One student writes, “There were many times when I felt overwhelmed and Richard took the time to guide me, even when our conversations were over, he would send follow-up messages with resources that would be beneficial.” Another nominator notes Richard’s attentiveness to the mental health needs of the students and how he takes great care to ensure that every student has the support they need to succeed.
One nominator summed up Richard’s impact in this way: “When you were missed by an entire cohort of students who were presumably upset that you had to proceed on vacation during the summer term, you know that you are a remarkable lecturer, mentor and motivator.
Richard has been an amazing champion for the students, alumni and the program. One nominator notes, “This is a well-deserved award that will hopefully encourage Richard to continue being the guiding star for many of us.”
Anthony has had a significant impact on the Georgian teaching and learning community. His skills as a designer, inclusive practitioner, reflector and mentor are noted by his nominators.
His work as an instructional designer has been particularly impactful in hybrid, online and GC Flex course development, where he helps teachers navigate the complexities of teaching modalities and create engaging and effective learning environments. His support is extremely appreciated.
One faculty peer notes: “My experience with Anthony is highly valued and has shaped my view of teaching. He builds a sense of community amongst faculty at Georgian College, and I look forward to every semester when he reaches out to present in his current courses.”
And another notes: “Anthony spent the time necessary to build a relationship with each of us to allow us the comfort of opening up to questions and one on one conversations when necessary.”
Anthony’s use of evidence-informed pedagogy and andragogy helps teachers to do the same. He recognizes the importance of mapping courses, ensuring that learning outcomes are clearly defined and align with assessments and activities and encourages teachers to consider the needs of diverse learners and to create inclusive learning environments.
He has empowered teachers to think critically about their teaching practices, to experiment with new approaches, and to work collaboratively to create transformative change. His nominator’s note that he has helped to create a culture of innovation and continuous learning.
Notably, as a mentor, Anthony understands that faculty who come to the CTL for support require a kind ear, an open heart and an open mind and these principles always guide his conversations and his approach to faculty support.
Jennifer is noted for her excellent support of faculty and student research, and all things teaching and learning at Georgian College. She assumes the roles of researcher, digital navigator, collaborator and mentor in her support across disciplines of both students and faculty.
“Her leadership in terms of curating course materials for Program Research Guides is critical to program success and her institutional knowledge across college programs is invaluable,” says one of her nominators.
While her faculty- and co-ordinator-facing work is exemplary, her student support is a significant contributor to student success.
On nominator states, “I absolutely believe that Jennifer Varcoe should be celebrated for her dedication for facilitating student learning. She is an indispensable resource who patiently and expertly guides the students through the world of research. As a digital navigator, she demonstrates not only the webpages and databases that students can benefit from, but she also equips the students to recognize questionable data sources and avoid those sites.”
One student shares, “Personally, I have used the library for many assignments during my program and Jennifer’s willingness to share her expertise (and advice) has been very important for me to successfully complete my courses.”
As she wears her multiple roles, she is always willing to provide feedback and insight into the drafting of assignment outlines and directs faculty to library resources. And then, she meets with students to review expectations from faculty for assignments as many faculty entrust her to keep a copy of their assignments on file.
This sentiment captures it all: Jennifer Varcoe is an awesome Librarian!
About the awards
The TEACHING EXCELLENCE AWARD recognizes innovative and creative ideas developed and implemented by our inspirational educators at Georgian College.
The award celebrates Georgian peers, or teams, who:
- demonstrate a commitment to excellence in their teaching practice and in facilitating student learning; or supporting teachers and teaching excellence; and
- inspire the larger teaching and learning community at Georgian College through sharing of practice, mentoring, or otherwise providing support to colleagues.
The commitment to excellence in teaching can be demonstrated in one or a combination of several competencies associated with the Georgian College Innovative Teaching Competency Framework (see the Academic Plan for more information).
The Teaching Excellence Award celebrates educators who strive to grow their practice in these competencies and, in so doing, offer students learning experiences that honour student diversity, respect student needs and support student success.
The commitment to excellence can be in one or several of the following competencies:
Innovative faculty are DESIGNERS. They design courses, classes, teaching and learning activities, and assessments in order to facilitate student learning. They recognize the importance of mapping courses for students and use evidence-informed pedagogy/andragogy to inform their practice. They recognize the importance of universal design, creating spaces of belonging, and sharing with peers in order to positively impact the teaching ecosystem.
Faculty who are excellent designers do the following kinds of things:
- Intentionally create universally designed teaching and learning activities.
- Integrate innovative and active teaching practices to engage students.
- Guide students and facilitate student learning with scaffolded, mapped and woven teaching and learning activities.
- Cultivate student learning by using evidence-informed, authentic opportunities for practice.
Innovative faculty are RESEARCHERS. They inspire curiosity and motivate students to ask questions. They offer opportunities to practice critical analysis and problem solving. They explore evidence and best practices in their disciplines and in the profession of teaching. Faculty use research to stay connected and to keep current and transform the experiences of other faculty by sharing their experiences.
Faculty who are excellent researchers do the following kinds of things:
- Integrate opportunities for students to engage in critical inquiry and problem solving.
- Seek credible, relevant information to authentically appeal to students.
- Guide students in critical appraising processes.
- Embed new learning into existing teaching practice.
Innovative faculty are INCLUSIVE PRACTITIONERS. They are emotionally attuned to the needs of learners and use empathy as a lens for their practice. They plan teaching and learning with integrity and work to identify inequities and injustices that may impact student success. They inhabit a growth mindset space and are open to knowledge outside of their disciplines to empower their students. They understand the importance of equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging work and see indigenization as a key priority to transform post-secondary education.
Faculty who are excellent inclusive practitioners do the following kinds of things:
- Use a growing array of skills to respond to a multi-faceted learning environment that ensures space for safety, challenge and growth.
- Foster a commitment to community standards and values while maintaining empathy and fairness.
- Cultivate opportunities and model risk taking in your teaching practice.
- Foster a learning environment where all are empowered to see their own agency and voice.
Innovative faculty are CHANGEMAKERS. They approach their interactions with students using an empathetic lens. In their courses, they support students in using this lens to identify inequities in our communities. From this perspective, faculty offer opportunities for collaboration and leadership as student practice changemaking in order to graduate not only amazing practitioners but also amazing community members.
Faculty who are excellent changemakers do the following kinds of things:
- Use empathy when creating course-related materials, course schedule, and teaching and learning activities.
- Build student ability to collaborate by intentionally focusing on relationships.
- Scaffold opportunities for your students to practice sharing leadership.
- Embed experiential learning opportunities for students to practice changemaking.
Innovative faculty are DIGITAL NAVIGATORS. In their work, they create opportunities for learning that are innovative and supportive of learners and learner needs. They seek out digital solutions that best fit each teaching context. Tools are chosen with purpose and with consideration for all aspects of learning. These faculty share their skills in the support of peers impacting the teaching and learning digital ecosystem of Georgian.
Faculty who are excellent digital navigators do the following kinds of things:
- Skillfully incorporate ed tech based on careful consideration of pros and cons from learners’ perspectives.
- Iterate your digital solutions and try again when something doesn’t work.
- Make decisions about learning technologies based on ethical considerations.
- Leverage education technologies available to connect and/or engage students.
Innovative faculty are COLLABORATORS. In classrooms, faculty promote collaboration and teamwork to share knowledge and improve student learning. As professional educators, faculty connect with peers in professional learning opportunities and in institutional teams and utilize a growth mindset for professional growth and development that spans their entire career. They connect with partners within and outside of Georgian to create exciting opportunities for students.
Faculty who are excellent collaborators do the following kinds of things:
- Establish positive and trust-based relationships among students and colleagues.
- Weave emotional intelligence into their course design and delivery.
- Engage in collaborations and gather feedback to grow teaching practice.
- Offer opportunities for students to practice respectful communication.
Innovative Georgian faculty are REFLECTORS. In their work they will invest time in thinking about their teaching practice. Faculty will explore aspects of their teaching and plan for productive and transformative change. In this work, they will also take the time to evaluate the changes they have enacted to continually develop and grow their practice. They will also share their successes and failures in order to help peers.
Faculty who are excellent reflectors do the following kinds of things:
- Collect feedback about teaching practice as part of an ongoing cycle of reflection.
- Analyze feedback to set intentions and make changes.
- Prioritize and enact changes to teaching practice.
- Intentionally incorporate reflection (process and product) into your teaching practice.
Innovative faculty are MENTORS. They recognize the value of relationships and spend energy building relationships. These faculty reach out and across and engage with others in meaningful ways. Being a mentor means, at times, being a coach, a leader, and a keeper of different types of knowledge.
Faculty who are excellent mentors do the following kinds of things:
- Actively engage in partnerships for the betterment of teaching and learning experience.
- Support mentees in goal setting and clarifying objectives.
- Participate in leadership opportunities.
- Incorporate various types of knowledge into their practices.
Eligibility and process
1. All college professors, librarians, technologists and counsellors are eligible for these awards. Consideration may be given to members of the college community who have demonstrated extraordinary levels of support to teaching and learning at Georgian. The nominator must be Georgian College faculty, administration, or support staff member;
2. Each award will have no monetary value;
3. Past recipients of a Teaching Excellence Award are not eligible for nomination for the next five (5) years
4. Nomination submissions can be completed by using the online form and should include the following sections:
- Nominee information;
- Description of the nominee’s teaching practices and impact on the larger teaching and learning community at Georgian College based on the criteria noted above; and
- Supporting evidence, in the form of at least three testimonials from three different people (i.e., colleague, manager, community member, past student) describing and supporting the nominee’s exemplary demonstration of award criteria.
5. Select members of the CTL and the Teaching Excellence Committee (TEC) will independently review the submissions and rank the nominees. The recommended award winners will be determined from these rankings.
Past award recipients
Baking and Pastry Arts team
Samantha Sullivan Sauer
Brandy Mullen and Thea Jones
Jill Dunlop, Karen Bell, Suzie Addison-Toor, Josh Barath
Bonnie Lee Clarke
Lianne Smith Stow
The commitment to excellence can be in one or several of the following categories of teaching practice:
- Implements innovative practices that might involve interdepartmental, inter-program, or interdisciplinary collaborations
- Facilitates student learning through collaborations with community partners, professional bodies or other organizations
- Employs innovative strategies to engage learners in various learning modalities (e.g., face-to-face, hybrid or online learning)
- Skillful and meaningful integration of technology that enhances student learning
- Advances educational technology through practice and sharing of evidence-based best practices
- Implements experiential learning (i.e., project-based learning, case-based learning, simulations, field studies, etc.) in a way that enhances student engagement and retention
- Uses ongoing active learning to facilitate development of higher levels of learning
- Displays creativity in engaging learners in active learning across learning modalities
- Fosters an inclusive learning environment, in which learners feel a sense of belonging
- Demonstrates a commitment to equity by supporting full participation of all learners and removing barriers where they exist
- Use of decolonizing, anti-oppressive, culturally responsive, and/or universal design for learning (UDL) teaching practices to support achievement by all learners
- Facilitates, leads or structures student opportunities to examine how they make a positive impact related to social or environmental change
- Uses teaching strategies that empower students to develop changemaking skills and mindsets – empathy, collaboration, creativity, resilience, systems thinking, leadership
- Demonstrates commitment to connecting with learners, and building opportunities for connection between learners
- Leads with empathy, compassion and heart to support students in meeting learning outcomes
- Demonstrates commitment to connecting students with course content in meaningful ways, inspiring students to high levels of achievement and personal growth
- The research involves the collection and analysis of data or information as well as the synthesis of findings to advance understanding or practice
- The research endeavour, in some way, enhances student learning or teaching practice
Eligibility and process
- All college professors, librarians and counsellors are eligible for these awards. Consideration may be given to members of the college community who have demonstrated extraordinary levels of support to teaching and learning at Georgian. The nominator must be Georgian faculty, administration or support staff member.
- Up to five awards will be given each year.
- Each award will have no monetary value.
- Nomination submissions can be completed by using the online form and should include the following sections:
- Nominee information
- Description of the nominees teaching practices and their impact on the larger teaching and learning community at Georgian
- Supporting evidence, in the form of at least three quotes from three different people (i.e., colleague, manager, community member or past student) describing and supporting the award criteria
- Past recipients of a Teaching Excellence Award are not eligible for nomination for the next three years
Please consider nominating a deserving colleague today. TEACHING EXCELLENCE AWARDS will recognize the award winners at the annual Focus on Teaching and Learning Conference.
Sarah Rose Cavanagh
Sarah Rose Cavanagh is the Senior Associate Director for Teaching and Learning in the Center for Faculty Excellence at Simmons University, where she also teaches in the Psychology department as an Associate Professor of Practice. Before joining Simmons, she was an Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience (tenured) at Assumption University, where she also served in the D’Amour Center for Teaching Excellence as Associate Director for Grants and Research.
Sarah’s research considers the interplay of emotions, motivation, learning, and quality of life. She is author of The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion (2016) and upcoming Our Monsters, Our Selves: Encouraging Youth Mental Health with Compassionate Challenge (2022). She gives keynote addresses and workshops at a variety of colleges and regional conferences, blogs for Psychology Today, and writes essays for venues like Literary Hub and The Chronicle of Higher Education. She’s also on Twitter too much, at @SaRoseCav.
Fireside Chat with Dr. MaryLynn West-Moynes and Kevin Weaver
We sat down with our past president Dr. MaryLynn West-Moynes and incoming president Kevin Weaver to ask them some hot questions while eating even hotter wings!