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NAIT gives not to its best

2017 NAIT instructional excellence winners

If you’ve ever had an instructor or colleague who went above and beyond for their students you’ll be happy to know that NAIT recognizes the talent and service of it’s faculty. The institution promotes the growth of outstanding and excellent instruction through special honours like the Instructional Excellence Award. This annual award is granted to nominated instructors who qualify by demonstrating a few key practices and attitudes when teaching. If you think it sounds like a simple and straightforward process, you couldn’t be further from the truth.

The winners of this award are decided by a special committee who evaluate the nominees and send recommendations to the Academic Council. The recommendations are then approved by the council and officially become award winners. It is then the President and CEO of NAIT, or a designate, who announces the winners. What qualifies an instructor to win is no walk in the park. Conditions are different depending on how the instructor is nominated.

Instructors nominated by students must prove to be responsive to individual student learning needs, promote a quality learning environment, show appropriate and innovative teaching methods, demonstrate a thorough knowledge of their subject and model an overall professional attitude. Nominations by peer evaluations must feature a superb reliability, be open to new challenges and show they are co-operative and positive, with a professional behaviour. They must show respect for diverse talents and ways of learning, give prompt feedback and communicate high expectations.

Adam Cave is one instructor who proved himself up to these standards. He began teaching at NAIT in January 2016 and now instructs International Business, Selected Topics in Business, Supply Chain Management and Introduction to Marketing. Prior to that, he spent 15 years in South Korea teaching international business and international marketing. He did a PhD in international business, in the city of Busan. Originally from Ottawa, he found himself in Edmonton once back in Canada. He sees the apparent need to engage with students and keep them involved.

“The one thing that kept coming through was the idea of respect. For me it’s fundamental, listening and getting involved and making sure students know what they have to say is valuable,” said Cave.

He also showed a deep understanding of what makes an excellent instructor.

“Passion, energy, lots and lots of energy. Really a true respect for the fundamental aspect of what education is which is the journey, the path. It’s not the raw memory or repeating the answer to me. It’s discovering, looking at things differently and then rediscovering.”

He professes a true enthusiasm for the effort and work put into educating. Seeing the impact on his students and seeing them go all the way to submit a nomination for him gave him a truly unique and pleasant feeling.

Douglas Parsons, a selfdescribed recovering junior high teacher, taught overseas for a number of years and realized his passion was English as a second language. As an advocate for ESL students, he helped teach and run a program that allowed Chinese teachers to be at NAIT for six months to learn English, and Canadian culture. He was brought over to the ESL department to build an English business for strong English speakers who are still not as strong against a Canadian born student.

“We take a look at business words, business idioms, business case studies, teach them how to write a case study. I’ve been building this program since 2012,” Parsons said. “The amount of talent in those students is amazing and all they need is the English language.”

He was shocked to receive news of being nominated, yet it validated his practices and gave the sense that what he’s doing is right.

“An excellent instructor is the person who puts the students first. The person who tears up that perfect lesson plan and teaches what the students need at that moment. They’re flexible enough to do that and willing to take a risk,” he said.

“Because my students are ESL and some of them new to Canada, life, culture and anything can be a teachable moment. If I’m so focused on a preconceived notion on what a class should be like then I miss out on those moments.”

If you are interested in nominating an instructor for the Instructional Excellence Award, you can submit nominations online through your MyNAIT student portal, under Student Services. If you have any questions about the award or the nomination process, you can submit questions by e-mailing instructor.excellence@nait.ca

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