January 26, 2016

Inspiring Portraits: The Two Lives of Murielle Cayouette

This text was initially published by Profweb under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence, before Eductive was launched.

Do you know a colleague that teaches Poetry and Restaurant Management in English, Tourism in Spanish and who accompanies their students on Adventure Tourism expeditions? We would like to introduce Murielle Cayouette, a versatile, super-organized teacher who is hoping to be tenured one day. She became a part of the Profweb team during the fall of 2015. Another feather in her cap! Murielle has been teaching at the college level for 5 years. During the fall semester of 2015, she shared her time between Collège O’Sullivan and Collège Mérici, both of which are in Québec City.

This semester was not a typical one for Murielle, since she only had 2 courses to prepare. Let’s have a look at what a day in the life of Murielle resembled for the winter semester of 2015:

  • 08:30 – Poetry class (Literary Genres: Poetry) begins at Cegep Champlain–St. Lawrence.
  • 10:30 – Depart for Collège Mérici, where she offered one-on-one English tutoring.
  • 13:00 – Two twists of the tongue and she welcomes her adventure Tourism students for a Spanish course. Whoa! This course is also at Collège Mérici, mercifully!
  • 16:00 – She changes hats (and language) and transports herself to the world of restaurant management. She is teaching a management course in English in tandem with another teacher. Murielle is responsible for the competencies related to customer service and English as a second Language.

Career Path: Tragic Flaws?

I owe my eclectic career path to a series of tragic flaws (laughs) – namely my academic path and my multiple interests. While studying in University, I did a Bachelor’s degree in English as a Second Language with a concentration in Spanish. I pursued a Master’s degree in English Literature with a memoir on Native American Literature.  I used Ecocriticism as part of my theoretical framework.  This critical perspective considers the impact of the physical environment on identity. This is not unrelated to my interests in the environment and Adventure Tourism.

She lives with some interesting contrasts: she can just as easily teach a very specialized English class in Adventure Tourism as a Business English class the next day, then don a business suit to welcome visitors to a large employment fair organized by her Office Systems Technology students.

I like different challenges, but I need to develop tools to manage my time and my various commitments effectively.

Two rows of students holding a stick between their fingers while sitting side by side

Adventure Tourism students at Collège Mérici engaged in a problem-solving activity

Rencontre de plusieurs nouveaux arrivants et étudiants dans une salle de classe

Meet-and-greet café activity with recent migrants to Quebec City and students from the Adaptation and Culture-Shock course at Collège Mérici

Group picture

Official launch of the “Carrefour de recrutement” at Collège O’Sullivan (Photo credit: Patrick Bouchard)

Some tips on how to get by:

  • I have a Gmail address that manages all my e-mail addresses by organizing them in one place.
  • I use the Wunderlist application not only to supervise the projects for all of my groups, I also use it to manage my own various professional mandates.
  • I have a smart phone (and, more recently, I acquired an iPad). They are excellent personal assistants!
  • I have a giant calendar at home where I indicate each step of my projects that are in development.
  • I am an outdoor enthusiast and I like to be in the middle of a forest or somewhere on the water. To stay organized despite inclement weather, the good-old Rite in the Rain booklet has always been my best tool!
Blindfolded students climbing a wall

Blindfolded climbing activity to practice prepositions in Adventure Tourism at Collège Mérici.

Two Lives or Three?

Her heart is divided between English literature and her passion for Adventure Tourism. But in the evening or on the weekend during the winter, there is a good chance you will find Murielle on the Saint Lawrence River in an ice canoe. During the winter of 2016, she will be working as a guide for Quebec Ice Canoeing and will compete as a member of the Cosmos Ferme Genest team.

The Cosmos Ferme Genest Team

Rapid-fire Q&A:

What does Murielle bring to a project?

  • Her sense of organization
  • Her love of challenges
  • Her focus on beginning with the things that her students will really need to be ready for their future work

When I am developing a new course, I sit down with my colleagues that have practical knowledge in the area. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by people that have a foot in the door of industry. For example, in Event Planning, I did my research to see if the industry needs associated with complaint, conversing on the phone in English, or to some other aspect.

What is motivating her right now?

  • Developing new pedagogical projects
  • In-depth reflection in order to choose the most appropriate pedagogical approaches by catering to the reality of her students

One of my greatest challenges is that some of my students are very competitive and are preoccupied by their R Score while others are returning to CEGEP after many years and struggle to balance work and family commitments with their studies. I must learn to deal with both. Furthermore, I enjoy just as much using the educational technologies that are available as returning to the source, with a minimalist approach free of artifice or leading-edge technology. I like to call this approach “paleo-pedagogy!

What will motivate her in the near future?

  • To participate in the process of creating a program

A strength that sets her apart?

  • Her great versatility

A source of inspiration in her teaching practice?

  • Pierre Richard, who was her colleague in the English department at Cégep Garneau (who is now Academic Dean at Collège Mérici.)

In my second year as a Teacher, I had to teach a  101 B Block English course. I was pretty discouraged. I was telling myself that it would be boring and unmemorable. When I spoke to Pierre, he told me that it was both a privilege and a rare opportunity to accompany students during a pivotal moment in their lives. His enthusiasm was contagious. In the end, I really had a good time teaching the course.

  • Her parents, for their curiosity, for encouraging her to create a personal tool box and for their eclectic ways.

A great thinker that left their mark on her?

  • James Raffan, whose work reflects on the perception of risk and the notion of physical and psychological danger in the outdoors. His thoughts can easily be transposed to the classroom environment, rather than simply being used in the field of Adventure Tourism. As an example, Murielle has found that her students that are returning to college have a mental block when studying English. They lack self-confidence and don’t dare to interact with the others, which is essential for learning a language. Murielle therefore puts a lot of emphasis on rebuilding confidence.

What helps her recharge her creativity?

  • Travelling. In her office she has a wall of photos that she really likes to look at, from time to time. This “wall of fame” also includes photos of her groups of students that had a lasting effect on her.
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