What Are Open Classes?

The idea behind Open Classes is that we are all a community of learners and we can learn from each other. Faculty across the College have volunteered to open their classrooms throughout the year for you to observe how they teach, engage their students, and manage their classroom.

If you are interested in observing an open classroom, connect with a faculty member from the “Roster of RDC Faculty with Open Classes” below. All is takes is an email and they will open their doors.

Who are Open Classes For?

Open Classes are for everyone! Whether you are new to teaching or have taught for five, fifteen, or twenty-five years, there is always something to learn. Observing other faculty teaching provides you with the opportunity to expand and grow your teaching practice.

Two Weeks of Open Classes

At certain times throughout the year, RDC faculty members get the opportunity to volunteer to open their classes to their colleagues. This allows RDC faculty members to get a glimpse into what their colleagues are doing in their classrooms.

Visit our Two Weeks of Open Classes page to learn more about upcoming offerings.

More Information

Explore the information below to learn more about Open Classes.

What Are and Aren’t Open Classes?
Open Classes Are Open Classes Are Not
  • informal and casual
  • developmental
  • for the benefit of the Visiting Instructor (though benefits may be found for the Home Instructor too)
  • reflective
  • collaborative
  • formal
  • evaluative
  • a form of Peer Observation as laid out in the Faculty Performance Policy
  • a Mentoring relationship between the Visiting Instructor and the Home Instructor
Guiding Principles and Etiquette for Open Classes
For the Home Instructor: it is simply opening your classroom door to other faculty so they can learn from their peers in order to develop their own teaching practice.

For the Visiting Instructor: it is simply entering another classroom to learn from what other faculty do in their classes. This creates a culture of sharing around teaching which is open and collaborative.

Open Classes at RDC are governed by several Guiding Principles related to ethical and professional conduct between faculty members. These Guiding Principles have been adapted from several sources and are in agreement with those found in the FARDC Guidelines for Ethical Practice (on the FARDC website under “Collective Agreement”)

  1. Trust: “Observers [Visiting Instructors] need to maintain a sensitive awareness of the potential for vulnerability that inevitably accompanies any observation of teaching” (Wajnryb, 1992, 19).

  2. Confidentiality: The Open Class process is undertaken within a system of confidentiality to respect the Home Instructor and her/his students welcoming you into their classroom. Discussion of the observation should remain between the two faculty members (the Visiting Instructor and the Home Instructor) and be held as confidential. Any written reflection should be anonymized.

  3. Respect: As one faculty member observing another in an unfamiliar teaching context, respect is an important principle. We must respect the diversity of content, experiences, and approaches that we will encounter.

  4. Exploring and Advancing Knowledge: The Open Class process is undertaken in an honest attempt to explore various teaching practices and advance one’s personal knowledge of teaching practices. There should be no judgement involved in the observations; the Visiting Instructors should take away thoughts and ideas for the evolution of their personal teaching practice.

  5. Context and Limitations of Observations: When observing a class, it is important to remember that you are there to observe the teaching practices of the instructor and not to judge the content of the course. You may observe courses that are outside your disciplinary area and that involve topics and discussions which could be seen as controversial. As a Visiting Instructor, you are there for a snapshot of class time and do not have the context of past classes, future classes, overall course outcomes, or disciplinary expertise to judge the appropriateness of course content. Home Instructors are opening their classes to you; if you have questions about the context or content of the course, seek out the Home Instructor directly for clarification.
Comparison of Visiting and Home Instructor

Visiting Instructor

(Observing a Class)

Home Instructor

(Open Class)

  • The Visiting Instructor benefits from seeing other faculty teach.
  • The Home Instructor supports her/his faculty colleagues in exploring their teaching practice through observations.
  • The Visiting Instructor has autonomy in how he/she will use the Observation to develop their practice and abides by the ethical and confidential guidelines listed above.
  • Control belongs to the Home Instructor. The Home Instructor sets boundaries on the observation, may allow or disallow observations at any time. The Home Instructor may choose to enter into a dialogue with the Visiting Instructor to whatever extent is manageable and desirable.
Self-Reflective and Non-Evaluative
  • The Visiting Instructor gains insight into teaching and uses those insights to reflect and develop her/his own teaching practice.
  • The Visiting Instructor may write a personal reflection on the key take-aways from the Observation (e.g. what are things observed that could be adapted or incorporated into one’s own teaching practice?)
  • The Home Instructor may also reflect on his/her teaching through this process.
  • The Home Instructor may choose to enter into dialogue about teaching practices with the Visiting Instructor as a result of the Observation.
  • Observations are a developmental process wherein the Visiting Instructor benefits from seeing colleagues teach in a variety of settings to develop his/her own practice for the benefit of themselves and their learners
  • The developmental aspect is intended to benefit the Visiting Instructor.
  • The Home Instructor may also find benefit in this process as she/he may reflect on her/his teaching as a result of being observed (the act of observation changes the observed).
  • Talking about teaching promotes reflection on one’s practice; although a discussion is not a formal component of the Observation, discussions between the Visiting Instructor and Home Instructor may take place
  • The Home Instructor is under no obligation to have a meeting with the Visiting Instructor but may wish to answer questions or share thoughts following the Observation. The Home Instructor can offer to meet or discuss the Observation.

Adapted from York St. John University’s Peer Observation of Learning and Teaching (POLT) Guidelines

Questions and Follow-up
There is no expectation of a follow-up for this process, though this is up to the discretion and choice of the Home and Visiting Instructors.

As you observe, you might ask yourself the following questions and use them to write a short reflection for your own benefit:

  1. What did you observe in the class that was different or similar to your own teaching approach?
  2. What have you learned from watching your colleague teach?
  3. What themes emerge about your own teaching practice?
  4. What will you continue to do and what might you adapt or change based on the observation?
  5. Have any of your thoughts or beliefs changed as a result of this observation?
  6. Did you take anything from the observation that you think will make your own teaching more effective?
  7. Did you observe anything that you will apply to your own teaching in the future?
Roster of RDC Faculty with Open Classes
We encourage faculty to observe as many classes as they can, both within and outside their disciplines, beyond Two Weeks of Open Classes!

The following faculty at RDC are pleased to open their classes to their RDC Faculty colleagues. If you are interested in observing a class at anytime during the year, please contact a faculty member below by email, introduce yourself, and inquire about observing a class. Some of them teach in both an online and face-to-face environment so you may also be able to observe an online class session or a face-to-face session.

If you would like to add your name to the list, please contact the CTL. This list is open to all faculty at RDC so we welcome you to add your name at any time.

School of Arts and Sciences

  • Anomi Bearden, Psychology Instructor
    • Psychology (face-to-face)
    • Metacognition and Meditative practices in education and psychology
    • Positive Psychology
    • Email: Anomi.Bearden@rdc.ab.ca
  • Carrie Dennett, Anthropology, Sociology, Justice Studies Instructor
    • Human Culture (past and present)
    • Social Institutions and Contemporary Social Issues
    • Criminal Justice System (Introductory)
    • Email: Carrie.Dennett@rdc.ab.ca
  • Eduard Baidaus, History Instructor
    • History and GNED courses
    • Narrative, analysis, discussion
    • Face-to-Face (2020-2021 – Online)
    • Email: Eduard.Baidaus@rdc.ab.ca
  • Kristy Erickson, Chemistry Instructor
  • Stéphane Perreault, History Instructor
    • Face-to-face instruction
    • Historical narrative and analysis
    • Group activities for document analysis and summaries of knowledge
    • Indigenous voices on history (particularly Canadian)
    • Email: Stephane.Perreault@rdc.ab.ca

School of Creative Arts

  • Tom Bradshaw, Performing Arts Instructor
    • Drama courses (various), Research and Development courses, Business of Acting, Voice (with permission of students)
    • Email: Thomas.Bradshaw@rdc.ab.ca
  • Megan Bylsma, Art & Animation History Instructor
    • Flipping and un-flipping the classroom
    • Gamification
    • Group work
    • Labs
    • One evening class with 20+ students, another evening class with 100+ students
    • Reacting to the Past (RTTP) curriculum through Live Action Role Playing and reaction to historical events
    • Email: Megan.Bylsma@rdc.ab.ca

Donald School of Business

  • Jason Engel, Business Instructor
    • Personal Finance
    • Integration of active learning and adaptive learning through Publisher content
    • Email: Jason.Engel@rdc.ab.ca
  • Deb Kindopp, Administrative Professional and Unit Clerk Instructor
  • Stephanie Powers, Business Instructor
    • Face-to-face and Online
    • Synchronous engagement using Google Docs
    • Student interaction using Socratic method
    • Class activities and games” or something along that line
    • Email: Stephanie.Powers@rdc.ab.ca
  • Leanne Vig, Accounting Instructor (Seconded to CTL, 2019-2020)
    • Face-to-face and Online
    • Active and Applied Learning
    • Flipped Classroom
    • Smartie Inventory
    • Email: Leanne.Vig@rdc.ab.ca

School of Education

  • Shauna Garrow, Academic Upgrading
  • Shawna Schnick, Educational Assistant Program

School of Health Sciences

  • Jessica Green, Practical Nursing Instructor
  • Kristen Gulbransen, Bachelor of Science, Nursing
  • Candi Raudebaugh, Occupational Therapist & Physiotherapist Instructor
    • Lecture and lab courses
    • Google Drive
    • Small group work
    • Hands-on skill practice
    • Use of iPads in the classroom
    • Email: Candi.Raudebaugh@rdc.ab.ca
  • Carol Sherrer, Practical Nursing Diploma
  • Rob Weddell, Kinesiology Instructor

School of Trades and Technology

  • Bill Petrosenko, Heavy Equipment Technicians

Brookfield, S.D. 1995. Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. Jossey-Bass, San Fransisco, CA.

Wajnryb, Ruth. 1992. Classroom Observation Tasks: A Resource Book for Language Teachers and Trainers. Cambridge University Press.

Open Chair Project at Trent University



ctl@rdc.ab.ca | 403.356.4989 | Room 913C | Find us on theLoop | Find us on Twitter and Facebook @ctlrdc
Updated October 13, 2020

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