Protocol for Convention AttendanceTop of page
For over 100 years, teachers have attended teachers’ conventions in Alberta. Originally organized by the Department of Education, teachers’ conventions provided opportunities for school inspectors to meet with teachers in each community. Over the years the role played by the Alberta Teachers’ Association in the annual teachers’ conventions gradually increased.
In 1942, the Department of Education agreed to grant the Association the responsibility for organizing conventions. The agreement requires the Alberta Teachers’ Association to improve the teaching profession by organizing and supporting groups that advance the knowledge and skill of teachers. The School Act (1988) specifically identifies as “teaching days” the two days on which a teachers’ convention, authorized by the Alberta Teachers’ Association, are held. Attendance is mandated in the School Act as comprising part of teachers’ employment contracts with their boards.
The 10 convention associations are agencies of the provincial Association. As Association subgroups, they plan, conduct, fund, evaluate and govern the teachers’ conventions held across the province. In conjunction with other activities at the school, local and school board level, conventions are a key professional development opportunity for teachers to enhance their professional growth and, thereby, foster student learning.
Statement of Principles
The objects of the Association as stated in the Teaching Profession Act are to provide and develop leadership and programs that will enhance individual teacher competence, teaching as a profession and the cause of public education. Such activity is called “professional development.”
The primary goal of the Association’s professional development program is to establish and maintain high standards of professional practice. Progress toward this goal requires the advancement and promotion of Association policies related to professional development.
Professional development takes many forms and is provided by many different people and organizations with the goal of enhancing learning for students. As described in the PD framework for professional development in Alberta, effective professional development activities at teachers’ conventions shall include the following:
Content—Convention sessions are based on research and build on established knowledge, skills and attributes. The program provided is designed to enhance implementation of curriculum, instructional techniques and assessment techniques. In addition, sessions enhance pride in being a member of the teaching profession and motivate teachers to further explore and study topics of interest, areas of need and new research on effective practices in education.
Process—Conventions provide opportunities to engage teachers in collegial dialogue. Conventions encourage teachers to explore, think critically and reflect on their professional practice to identify action strategies and solutions for issues of common concern.
Context—Conventions are professional development activities that respect the professional judgment of teachers in determining their needs.
The Association, as a professional organization, strongly values teachers’ conventions and recognizes both the professional and legal obligations that teachers have regarding convention attendance. All teachers should consider this as they approach and participate in the full two days of teachers’ conventions.
Teachers’ conventions must provide relevant professional development opportunities for teachers which assist them in realizing their individual plans for increased professional growth.
Given that teacher attendance is obligatory, convention boards should develop annual programs of general interest to teachers at all levels, for a variety of curriculum areas and improved pedagogy. Teachers’ conventions achieve this through convention speakers, workshops, exhibits and networking opportunities.
Convention is only one of a number of interdependent professional development forums for teachers. The opportunities provided complement and/or supplement other components of a comprehensive program.
Convention Attendance Guidelines
- All teachers have a legal as well as a professional obligation to attend the annual teachers’ convention to which they have been assigned as stated in the School Act.
- A charge of unprofessional conduct under Association discipline bylaws may be lodged against a teacher who fails to attend the teachers’ convention. School boards also have the right to deduct pay from teachers absent from a convention without authorization or reason and, in fact, have done so.
- Employers, school staff, Association subgroups and individual teachers shall not organize other school or district activities that conflict with annual teachers’ conventions. Any such other activities that are scheduled may be contrary to the School Act.
- Notwithstanding teacher rights under collective agreements, teachers are expected to consider convention dates as a professional priority in planning for the school year and as a link to their Teacher Professional Growth Plans.
- Notwithstanding the professional and statutory obligation to attend their annual teachers’ conventions, in exceptional circumstances teachers may be absent from the annual convention according to the following criteria.
Requests by a Teacher to the Employer
Medical, bereavement, personal and other leave entitlements fall under the collective agreement and should be handled in the usual employer/employee relationship.
Requests by a Teacher to the Convention Attendance Committee
Alternate Professional Development Activities
- Teachers may request permission to attend alternate professional development activities. Requests must be submitted, in writing, to the appropriate Convention Attendance Committee. Such requests must be made at least six weeks prior to the convention. Teachers need to check with their convention board as to the specific deadline for the request. Teachers failing to request permission from their Convention Attendance Committee may be subject to investigation and sanctions under the Code of Professional Conduct.
- For approval of requests by a teacher to be absent from convention responsibilities, the following three minimum criteria must be met:
- an organized professional development activity that exceeds those provided at convention
- an extraordinary professional development opportunity that could not be accessed by the teacher at another time
- a relevant professional development session not included in the convention program that will enhance professional practice.
- The Convention Attendance Committee has the authority to grant permission for a teacher to be absent from convention. The Convention Attendance Committee will advise the teacher of its decision in writing. Teachers may appeal a decision of the committee to the Convention Board to render a final decision.
- An example of an appropriate request would include a one-time attendance at a national or international conference which addresses the emergent professional needs of the teacher. Such requests will not be granted two years in a row and instead require a minimum two years between such requests.
- Although worthy enterprizes, school trips such as ski trips, field trips, voluntary participation in other activities (eg, coaching) and school board-facilitated activities (eg, job fairs) do not qualify as professional development activities.
- Any member in an educational context counselling and directing a colleague to be absent from convention is liable to sanctions under the Code of Professional Conduct.
Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association (ASAA)
The Alberta Teachers’ Association is providing the Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association (ASAA) with a Letter of Accommodation regarding the release of teacher coaches from their convention attendance obligations. Such releases apply only to teacher coaches from the convention associations involved with teams reaching the rural wrestling finals, provincial wrestling finals, provincial curling finals and provincial cheerleading finals. Zone playdowns do no qualify for release from convention obligations.
Due to recent changes to diploma examination schedules, no conflicts are anticipated with marking exams since all written portions are scheduled to be marked prior to convention dates.
For more information, view a flow chart summarizing the procedure that teachers must follow in seeking permission to be absent from their teachers' convention.
Approved in Principle by Provincial Executive Council of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, 2004 04 01.
Convention Attendance for Distributed Learning/Distance Learning/Virtual/Online TeachersTop of page
At its meeting on 2012 10 25–26, Provincial Executive Council (PEC) passed a motion to amend Association Administrative Guidelines to include the processes for teachers to attend alternate teachers’ conventions as per the Convention Attendance Pilot Project. These amendments ensure that this process has become an ongoing practice.
These procedures apply specifically to teachers who work in distributed learning/distance learning/virtual/online environments AND who live outside of the geographic boundary of their designated teachers’ convention.
The deadline to self-identify for a change to your designated convention area has passed for attendance at 2016 teachers' conventions.
Frequently Asked Questions About Convention AttendanceTop of page
For the answers to common questions such as:
- If I am sick, do I have to go to convention?
- If I teach part-time, do I have to attend all of convention?
- I am a substitute teacher. Do I have to attend convention?
please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions page.