Focus on teaching 2023 banner, may 3 to 4, better together, graphics of people working together online, virtually, and in person

Focus on Teaching Conference

2023 conference coming soon!

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.

Focus on teaching 2023 logo, better together, different coloured hands touching circle containing text

Keynote speaker

Michelle Hillier

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.

photo of Michelle Hillier, keynote speaker

Call for proposals

Call for proposals now open!

The deadline for submissions is April 7 at 4pm.

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 speakerMichelle 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.
Graphic of three people sitting around a table. one person has a light bulb above their head indicating an idea, another person points at it with approval.

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!

QR code for session proposal submission

Teaching Excellence Awards

Call for nominations now open!

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.

Nominations are due by April 12, 2023, at 4 p.m.

The Innovative GC Faculty, graphic of person in center of icons wearing a Georgian college t-shirt. Icons surrounding person read, designer, researcher, inclusive practitioner, changemaker, digital navigator, collaborator, reflector, mentor


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:

Designer competencyGeorgian College Chevron

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.
Researcher competencyGeorgian College Chevron

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.
Inclusive Practitioner competencyGeorgian College Chevron

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. 
Changemaker competencyGeorgian College Chevron

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.
Digital Navigator competencyGeorgian College Chevron

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.
Collaborator competencyGeorgian College Chevron

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.
Reflector competencyGeorgian College Chevron

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.
Mentor competencyGeorgian College Chevron

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.

photo of the Teaching Excellence Award

We’d love your help!

Please consider nominating an inspiring colleague today. Winners of the TEACHING EXCELLENCE AWARDS will be recognized at the annual Focus on Teaching and Learning Conference on May 3 to 4.

Nominations are due by April 12, 2023, at 4 p.m.

If you have any questions, please contact Tracy Mitchell-Ashley. Thank you for supporting teaching excellence at Georgian!
QR code for Teaching Excellence Awards nomination form

Past award recipients

2022Georgian College Chevron

Jarrod Otterman

Hanna Shrolyk

Danica Vukmirovic

2021Georgian College Chevron

Clem Bamikole

Daphene Francis

Eleanor Gittens

Janette O’Neill-Scott

Jill Esmonde

Larry White

Marilyn Nigro

Marilyn Watson

Mary Dobson

Rob Davidson

Hairstyling team

2020Georgian College Chevron

No conference

2019Georgian College Chevron

Gail Hussey

Kelly Duggan

Lynn MacKinlay

Mary Spencer

Randi Dermott

Rich Freeman

Steve McDonald

Baking and Pastry Arts team

2018Georgian College Chevron

Terry Hrynk

Rhonda Bell-Allen

Gisele Beausoleil

Cindy Korpatnicki

2017Georgian College Chevron

Nicole Barbato

Daniel Travers

Joachim Schimdt

Toni Cano

Sam Bilamjian

2016Georgian College Chevron

Michael Agema

Amy Goruk

Samantha Sullivan Sauer

2015Georgian College Chevron

Terry Heittola

Sarah Hunter

Alanda Theriault

Deb Witmer

Jaret Wright

Brandy Mullen and Thea Jones

2014Georgian College Chevron

Tamara Fisher-Cullen

Anne-Marie McAllister

Scott McCrindle

Avinash Thadani

Katherine Wallis

Jill Dunlop, Karen Bell, Suzie Addison-Toor, Josh Barath

2013Georgian College Chevron

Michele Baron

Ross Bigelow

Jill Esmonde

Martha MacEachern

Susan Stott-Hood

Kim Stubbs

2012Georgian College Chevron

Bonnie Lee Clarke

Joy Martin

Barry Weese

Lydia Crawford

2011Georgian College Chevron

Catherine Dewhurst

Kath Gradwell

Jack Lesage

Lianne Smith Stow

Catherine Wareham

Kathy Weatherall

2010Georgian College Chevron

Bryan Hunt

Debra Morrow

Susan MacNeal

Anthony Borgo

2009Georgian College Chevron

Steve Miller

Joan Morgan

Jeff Walther

2008Georgian College Chevron

Terry Bell

Karen Halliday

Nancy Noldy-Maclean

Ruthann Krant

Rob Theriault

Ruth Yole

2021 recipientsGeorgian College Chevron
Clement Bamikole

Clem Bamikole

Rob Davidson

Rob Davidson

Mary Dobson

Mary Dobson

Jill Esmonde

Jill Esmonde

Daphene Francis

Daphene Francis

Eleanor Gittens

Eleanor Gittens

Marilyn Nigro

Marilyn Nigro

Janette O'Neill-Scott

Janette O’Neill-Scott

Marilyn Watson

Marilyn Watson

Larry White

Larry White

Team Award - Hairstyling

Hairstyling team


The commitment to excellence can be in one or several of the following categories of teaching practice: 

Innovative teaching strategiesGeorgian College Chevron
  • 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)
Educational technologyGeorgian College Chevron
  • Skillful and meaningful integration of technology that enhances student learning
  • Advances educational technology through practice and sharing of evidence-based best practices
Active learningGeorgian College Chevron
  • 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
Equity, diversity and inclusionGeorgian College Chevron
  • 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
ChangemakingGeorgian College Chevron
  • 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
Humanizing/creating connections and community Georgian College Chevron
  • 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
ResearchGeorgian College Chevron
  • 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 

  1. 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.
  1. Up to five awards will be given each year.
  1. Each award will have no monetary value.
  2. 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.

FOTC 2022

Keynote SpeakerGeorgian College Chevron

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.

Sarah Rose
VideosGeorgian College Chevron

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!

What do you love about FOTC?