Provincial Executive CouncilTop of page
Provincial Executive Council is composed of 5 table officers and 15 district representatives. Council oversees the implementation of policy, formulates interim policy, interprets the application of policy and guides staff and committees in areas in which there is no policy. Council establishes guidelines for the general operation of the Association and directs the process that staff follow in developing and implementing programs. In addition to considering program reports, recommendations from committees and reports from representatives and staff, Council deals with issues and concerns directed to it by staff and members. Council is responsible for receiving, reviewing and, if necessary, appealing decisions of the Professional Conduct Committee. Developing the annual budget and proposed program prognoses and considering resolutions for the Annual Representative Assembly occupy a significant amount of Council’s time.
In performing its duties in 2016, Council met for a total of 16days in eight regular meetings. During the year, Council established three new committees: (1) the Central Table Bargaining Committee (see section 87); (2) the Committee on First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education (see section 17); and (3) the Task Force on Supports and Services for Central Office Teachers (see section 18). Council also reconvened the Committee on Future SARO Building Needs, which was established in 2014 and had been inactive since 2015 (see section 14).
During the year Council monitored the development and implementation of legislation, reviewed the progress of Association research projects (see section 26), and received updates on collaborative projects that the Association is undertaking with other education partners (see section 25). S A Svidal is administrative secretary to Council.
The resignations of district representatives S D Brown (Edmonton District) and K L Kempt (Calgary City) triggered by-elections for the positions. The by-election for the position of district representative, Edmonton District was held in February, with P A Froese elected, and the byelection for the position of district representative, Calgary City was held in June, with H Doppmeier elected. The byelections were conducted through online voting.
Table Officers CommitteeTop of page
The Table Officers Committee acts on matters referred to it by Provincial Executive Council, takes action in response to emergent issues or when time is of the essence, and deals with administrative matters delegated to it by Council. The committee met eight times on regular Association business; seven times on ad hoc business; once each with the minister of education, Alberta School Boards Association, College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS) and the Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association; and twice with the Council of Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta. The committee also attended one joint meeting with the Alberta School Boards Association, Association of School Business Officials of Alberta, Alberta School Councils’ Association and CASS. At its regular meetings, the committee dealt with more than 141 agenda items. Most of the committee’s ad hoc meetings were called to deal with time-sensitive matters.
Administrative matters include authorizing representations and delegations and ratifying, on behalf of Council, local fees and the constitutions of specialist councils, convention associations and locals. The committee oversees Summer Conference, the Local Presidents’ Meetings (one in conjunction with the Annual Representative Assembly) and the annual June and September planning meetings, which are attended by members of Council, executive staff and senior management. It reviews new and revised legislation and regulations dealing with education in Alberta.
Members of the committee represent the Association in meetings with the government and other organizations. Table officers were also responsible for ensuring appropriate Association representation on government committees, recommending to Council the terms of reference for and membership on Association ad hoc committees and task forces, and arranging opportunities to discuss issues relating to public education with representatives of major political parties and interest groups.
At the invitation of locals, table officers attended 42 local induction and retirement ceremonies, as well as other events across Alberta to speak or bring greetings.
The committee consists of H M Ramsankar (president), G A Jeffery (vice-president), R J Twerdoclib (vicepresident), C D Henderson (past president) and G R Thomas (executive secretary). Associate Executive Secretary D E Theobald is secretary and A L Dutka is administrative secretary.
The table officers also constitute the Steering Committee for the Annual Representative Assembly. D E Theobald is secretary. M Moffatt and B Bayford are administrative secretaries.
Major tasks of the Finance Committee are to review the Association’s financial statements, to make recommendations concerning the Association’s financial position, to cost the program budget referred to it by Provincial Executive Council and to prepare a consolidated budget for consideration by Council and subsequent submission to the Annual Representative Assembly. The committee also advises Council on investment matters, determines the amount that the Association charges its subgroups and others for printing, and recommends fees for evaluating teacher qualifications and providing other Association services. The committee determines the terms and rates of rentals in Barnett House, ratifies collective agreements with intermediate and clerical staff, approves clerical staffing levels, and addresses matters relating to the Office Staff Pension Plan. It advises staff on the proper application of administrative guidelines concerning expenses and other financial matters. The committee reviews resolutions that have financial implications and assigns an appropriate cost figure to each for consideration at the Assembly.
In fulfilling its obligations in 2016, the committee met six times.
The Finance Committee is composed of G A Jeffrey (chair), H Doppmeier, J M Geiger, C D Henderson, D MSellars-Myshchyshyn, J C Schilling, GRThomas and J M Sledz (secretary). C PInacio is administrative secretary.
The Resolutions Committee processes all resolutions submitted by Provincial Executive Council, locals and specialist councils for consideration at the Annual Representative Assembly. The committee informs locals of any actions taken on their resolutions, advises Council on the implications of local resolutions and prepares the Resolutions Bulletin, which is published as a supplement to the ATA News. The committee also reviews and makes recommendations to Council on current directives that are due to expire each year and on long-range policy that is slated for decennial review, and reviews resolutions from previous years that were referred for study and report. Following each Assembly approved resolutions are incorporated into policy.
For the 2016 Assembly, the committee prepared 236 resolutions: 187 for Council, 48 for locals and 1 Assembly resolution.
The members of the committee are R J Twerdoclib (chair), D A Bauer, M J Cyncar-Hryschuk, J L Regal and D E Theobald (secretary). S A Svidal is administrative secretary.
Strategic Planning GroupTop of page
The Strategic Planning Group identifies, studies and advises Provincial Executive Council on emerging issues and opportunities that are of interest to the Association. The group engages in long-range planning, proposes policy where appropriate and undertakes research to develop strategic foresight. Moreover, the group plans and participates in the annual June and September planning meetings attended by members of Council, executive staff and senior management.
The group held four meetings in 2016. One of its major activities was to initiate a strategic planning gap analysis to review and promote subgroups’ engagement with strategic foresight work. The group also started developing a project that examines critical influences on children and youth. In each of its meetings the group devoted considerable time to scanning articles and conference reports to identify trends that may affect public education in the coming years. The scanning work enabled the group to begin updating an external scan document in partnership with other forward-thinking organizations.
The group organizes public lectures and other events that highlight the role that public education plays in shaping the future of the province. Several public lectures were held in 2016 on such topics as digitally saturated learning environments and approaches to accountability.
The group also administers a grant program that assists the Association’s subgroups in holding retreats to examine their long-term goals and activities in light of the Association’s strategic plan. In 2016, the group approved matching grants of up to $2,000 each to six subgroups: four specialist councils and two locals.
Finally, the group plans and oversees the administration of the Association’s Member Opinion Survey, which is conducted annually to determine whether the Association’s programs and policy initiatives are responding to members’ needs. The results of the survey are used to help the Association and its subgroups undertake long-range planning.
Members of the group are P M McCann (chair), A G W Browne, C M Findlay, P A Froese, A S Mancini, PAMcRae, H M Ramsankar, GRThomas and J C Couture (secretary). W E Winnitoy is consultant and L J Yakimyshyn is administrative secretary.
Political Engagement CommitteeTop of page
The Political Engagement Committee evaluates the Association’s political engagement program, encourages the articulation of local and provincial political engagement programs, and recommends policy and initiatives related to political engagement and positions on political issues. In the period preceding a provincial general election, the committee, expanded through the addition of one member of Provincial Executive Council, one local president and one local political engagement officer, is also responsible for planning Association provincial and local activities related to making education a major focus of that election, presenting a preliminary proposal to Council as soon as possible in the months preceding the election, and preparing and presenting a budget proposal related to the campaign. The political engagement activities of the committee are nonpartisan in keeping with Association policy.
The committee held five meetings in 2016. In addition to regularly scanning the political environment and providing strategic advice to Council, the committee oversaw the implementation of an MLA engagement plan, including the provision of an enhanced political engagement grant program for locals. The committee also oversaw the continued development of Constant Contact, a briefing document used to inform local political engagement officers about issues of current concern regarding public education that warrant discussion in meetings with local elected officials and community supporters of public education. In addition, the committee initiated plans for a Summer Conference program to engage education decision makers. It also began developing plans for engagement related to the 2017 school board trustee elections. Finally, the committee organized a Political Engagement Seminar, held in March; a Local Political Engagement Officers’ Meeting, held in November; and a joint Local Political Engagement Officers’/Local Communications Officers’ Meeting, held in April. (Full reports on those events appear in section 37.)
The committee consists of H D McCaig (chair), J L Dennis, J A Hemphill, S Magnusson, S Merredew, L O Richer, P Q Yardley and JHTeghtmeyer (secretary). K L Dewar is administrative secretary.
Communications, Advocacy and Public Education Committee Top of page
The mandate of the Communications, Advocacy and Public Education Committee is to report to Provincial Executive Council on matters related to public education, as well as to recommend activities designed to heighten awareness of the benefits of public education and of the essential role that teachers play in public education. The committee also reviews pertinent Association policy and advises on matters related to Education Week and World Teachers’ Day.
The committee met five times in 2016. One of its major undertakings was to continue to update the Creating a Compassionate Classroom booklet for teachers, as well as develop an associated teachers’ convention presentation. The committee also oversaw a public relations campaign, entitled “The Story of ATA,” designed to emphasize that the Association is a professional organization that focuses on learning and on the best interests of children.
For the public relations campaign, advertisements appeared on television, radio, Cineplex movie theatre screens, grocery ad bars, elevator posters and billboards, as well as in Avenue Magazine and newspapers across Alberta. The campaign’s online presence included a website and YouTube videos. From January to May 2016, the website had more than 80,000 unique visitors and the YouTube videos had a total of 55,176 full and 270,411 partial views. In the fall, “The Story of ATA” website was updated. The website had 10,721 unique visitors between October and December 2016.
In addition to “The Story of ATA” campaign, the committee oversaw the Association’s public service announcement—airing on Canadian Network Broadcasting radio stations throughout Alberta in December—in support of Kids Help Phone.
Among its routine activities, the committee administered the Association’s Community Relations Grants program (whereby locals receive funding to undertake initiatives that profile public education, portray teachers as active and concerned community members, and/or show teachers and the Association as concerned about the mental health of children and youth); coordinated displays at Association booths at teachers’ conventions; and encouraged every school in the province to identify an outstanding volunteer and present that person with a Public Education Volunteer of the Year award certificate and decal.
The committee is composed of J C Schilling (chair), A L Berg, M J Cyncar-Hryschuk, S R Dube, A D Finlay, J H Teghtmeyer, E M Willette-Larsen and S Magnusson (secretary). B A Chamberlain is administrative secretary.
School Administrator Issues and Concerns CommitteeTop of page
The mandate of the School Administrator Issues and Concerns Committee is to study, monitor and advise Provincial Executive Council on matters affecting school administrators and the administration of schools; to help coordinate the Association’s work with respect to school administrators; to liaise with relevant education partners; to undertake research; and to recommend new policy and changes to existing policy.
The committee held three meetings in 2016. Its major undertaking was proposing resolutions for consideration at the Annual Representative Assembly.
During the year, the committee received updates on the following: (1) the implementation of the Teaching Quality Standard and School Leader Quality Standard; (2) the various workshops, supports, services and resources that the Association has available for school administrators; (3) and Association research initiatives.
The committee also suggested topics for inclusion in Leadership Update (a newsletter that the Association produces for administrators); monitored issues of concern to administrators; and received regular updates from the Council for School Leadership (CSL), the University of Calgary’s Werklund School of Education, the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Education, Alberta Education and the College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS).
Members of the committee are H M Ramsankar (chair), S E Coveyduck, K A deGoeij, C R Haley, K A Hoehn, T J Midbo (CSL president), D R Propp, D L Richards, M L Riez, B J Unland and J B Johnson (secretary). J E Trodden (Alberta Education), B L Stelmach (University of Alberta, Faculty of Education), J K Donlevy (University of Calgary, Werklund School of Education) and N W Yanitski (CASS) attend as observers. L J Yakimyshyn is administrative secretary.
Well-Being of Children and Youth CommitteeTop of page
The Well-Being of Children and Youth Committee advises Provincial Executive Council on issues pertaining to the well-being of children and youth; promotes awareness of the impact of poverty as a barrier to learning; advocates for the importance, maintenance and expansion of early intervention; recommends ways in which the Association can serve in an advocacy role for children and youth; proposes initiatives to help teachers work more effectively with children who experience barriers to success; and undertakes programs individually or in cooperation with other groups.
The committee met three times in 2016. A significant portion of the committee’s time was devoted to planning a conference on the well-being of children and youth. Held 2016 04 22 in Grande Prairie, the conference featured four plenary sessions focused on the issue of poverty. Forty-five delegates attended, including teachers from four school jurisdictions; representatives from media, government and other external organizations; and all committee members.
The committee consists of L A Szmul (chair), E C E Bessey, R Buziak, M F Fitzgerald, C D Henderson and A M Gillis (secretary). L E Harris is administrative secretary.
Committee on the Renovation and Expansion of Barnett HouseTop of page
The Committee on the Renovation and Expansion of Barnett House was established to manage the proposed renovation and expansion of Seymour Tower and the expansion of the parkade. In part, the proposed expansion would address the additional space requirements of the Association’s principal tenant at Barnett House, the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund. Council established the committee in October 2015 to manage the initiative and to engage an architect. Further, the committee is authorized to approve construction, select a construction manager, solicit and approve tenders, and manage financing.
In 2016, the committee met on two occasions. The committee approved the exterior plans for the building and renovation, and selected the Workun Garrick Partnership as architects. The committee is continuing to oversee the project, with construction anticipated to commence in 2017. The project should be completed by the summer of 2018.
The committee consists of P Q Yardley (chair), C M Ames (observer), P M McCann, L O Richer, J C Schilling, J MSledz and G R Thomas (secretary). J W Loke is administrative secretary and project manager.
Committee on Future SARO Building NeedsTop of page
The Committee on Future SARO Building Needs reconvened in May 2016. At its meeting, the committee reviewed the Calgary market, noting that, because prime category A space downtown was vacant, landlords of such properties were offering incentives. This resulted in a higher vacancy rate in category B properties (such as SARO’s building). The review indicated that the market prices may come down further. Therefore, the committee recommended a watching brief to determine when property values might favour the purchase of a building. The committee also recommended reviewing the services provided by SARO and the needs of the Association’s southern locals prior to making a decision.
The committee completed its mandate and was disbanded with thanks in June 2016.
Members of the committee were R J Twerdoclib (chair), F Bruseker, J M Geiger, A A Jurisic, C G Malner-Charest, J C Schilling, J M Sledz and S L Vogrinetz (secretary). J W Loke was administrative secretary.
Committee on ATA 100th Anniversary PlanningTop of page
Provincial Executive Council established the Committee on ATA 100th Anniversary Planning in 2014 to commence planning for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Association; to identify key dates during the anniversary year that merit special recognition; to research possible activities, such as events, publicity and publications; to consult with locals and others to determine interest and support for various activities; and to develop a proposal, including budget implications, for presentation to Council.
In 2016, the committee considered the budget around an enduring centennial-inspired public art piece, engaged a project manager to attend to the technical aspects of commissioning the piece and continued to explore options for the location of the centennial art piece. The committee attended a presentation from TAG Advertising on a proposed television media campaign to commemorate the centennial. The committee also discussed creating archival displays to exhibit the Association’s important historical documents and converting physical archival material into digital form. Finally, the committee began planning the centennial banquet that will take place at the 2018 Annual Representative Assembly in Calgary.
The committee consists of C D Henderson (chair), A L Berg, C Harding, J M Geiger, M A Shane and D E Theobald (secretary). S Magnusson is consultant and K K Muench is administrative secretary.
Committee on Superintendents in the Teaching ProfessionTop of page
Completing its work in 2016 was an ad hoc committee mandated to research and reflect upon the role of the superintendent in Alberta. The committee aimed to identify teachers’ concerns regarding their relationships with superintendents and to promote collegial relations. Consulting with the College of Alberta School Superintendents, individual superintendents and other appropriate education partners, the committee also strove to clarify and improve the relationship between superintendents and the Association.
The committee was disbanded with thanks in 2016. The committee’s work culminated in the publication of a research report entitled The Role of the Superintendent and the Teaching Profession.
Members of the committee were H M Ramsankar (chair), B J Baum, J C Couture, R W Hetherington, A A Jurisic, J C Schilling, R J Twerdoclib, E M Willette-Larsen and B J Andrais (secretary). J D Kardosh was administrative secretary.
Committee on First Nations, Métis and Inuit EducationTop of page
The 2016 Annual Representative Assembly approved the establishment of the Committee on First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education. The committee’s mandate includes studying and recommending to Council programs, representation and practices that will strengthen the capacity of the teaching profession in First Nations, Métis and Inuit education; identifying and making recommendations on professional concerns of teachers of Indigenous students; and reviewing and making recommendations on relevant Association policy. The committee may also, as required, invite observers from Association subgroups, Alberta Education, the faculties of education, the Indigenous community or other agencies to participate in the work of the committee.
In 2016, the committee held one meeting, during which it reviewed relevant Association policy and received an update on the Walking Together: Education for Reconciliation initiative.
The committee consists of L G Bloomfield (chair), A L Berg, A A Bird, D K Lloyd, C F Scout, P Q Yardley and P W Loyer (secretary). K K Muench is administrative secretary
Task Force on Supports and Services for Central Office TeachersTop of page
In October 2016, Provincial Executive Council established the Task Force on Services and Supports for Central Office Teachers to review Association supports and services available to central office teachers and to assess the types of services and supports that central office teachers would value. The task force will also assess the engagement of central office teachers in the Association and explore ways to enhance that engagement.
The task force will report to Council in April 2017.
Members of the task force are D C Harris (chair), K E Pegler, D A Roberts, M H Ference, E M Willette-Larsen and B J Andrais (secretary). A L Dutka is administrative secretary.
Annual Representative AssemblyTop of page
The Annual Representative Assembly is the major legislative event in the Association calendar. Each local is represented according to population (with a minimum of two delegates). The Assembly is responsible for establishing the Association’s policy, budget and fees.
The 99th Assembly was held in Calgary on 2016 05 21–22. The Assembly was attended by 420 delegates from 55 locals, two representatives from the Alberta Retired Teachers’ Association Special Local No 1, six student local observers, three specialist council observers, members of Provincial Executive Council, executive staff and invited guests.
The Assembly dealt with 236 resolutions, approving 199, defeating 2, declaring 5 as action taken and declaring 2 as policy achieved. Nine other resolutions were not moved.
In addition to debating resolutions, delegates considered the Annual Report of the Association (which included the auditor’s report and financial statements for 2014/15) and received a report from Association president H M Ramsankar. Delegates also heard greetings from D Eggen, minister of education; G Meredith, vice-president, Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF); and M Martin, vice-president, Alberta School Boards Association. Honorary membership was conferred on Sharon Armstrong of Hinton and Joe Bower (posthumously) of Red Deer. The Public Education Award was presented to Support our Students Alberta. The CTF Outstanding Aboriginal Educator Award was presented to Lloyd Bloomfield of Edmonton.
Five hundred and two participants attended the 2016 Summer Conference held 2016 08 15–19 at the Banff Centre.
Five courses were offered at the conference: (1) Initiatives in Leadership Course for members who had never attended Summer Conference but who plan to become involved in Association work; (2) Introduction to Teacher Welfare Course for members interested in bargaining or who would be at the negotiating table for the first time; (3) Local Program Course for incoming local presidents, vice-presidents, secretaries and sublocal presidents; (4) Professional Development Course for incoming professional development chairs; and (5) Teacher Welfare Course for members with experience at the negotiating table. In addition, seminars were offered to local presidents, local political engagement officers, Association instructors, economic consultants, retirement consultants, professional development facilitators and executive officers of specialist councils and convention associations. Details of the courses and seminars are provided elsewhere in this report.
Keynote speaker Lucy Miller addressed all delegates at a general session on Tuesday morning, discussing the United Way and supporting those growing up in poverty. Addressing delegates at a second general session on Thursday morning, keynote speaker Charlene Bearhead discussed Truth and Reconciliation through education.
D E Theobald served as on-site director of the Summer Conference.
Local Presidents’ Meetings and Summer Conference ProgramTop of page
In 2016 meetings of local presidents were convened on four occasions. Two of these meetings were regularly scheduled. One occurred immediately in advance of the 2016 Annual Representative Assembly, and one was called on an emergent basis to review implications of a new model of collective bargaining.
All 55 local presidents (or their designees) attended an emergent bargaining consultation meeting, held 2016 01 09. Also in attendance were 62 economic policy committee or negotiating subcommittee chairs, 15 economic consultants, 2 executive members from the larger urban locals, 19 members of Provincial Executive Council, 15 executive staff officers and a representative from Field LLP. The meeting included a review of Bill 8, the Public Education Collective Bargaining Act; a presentation on the new bargaining model that would come into effect with the passage of Bill 8; a group mapping session to review key issues and identify priorities; and a dialogue on the next steps of the bargaining process.
Participants from 53 of the Association’s 55 local associations and one participant from the Alberta Retired Teachers’ Association (ARTA) Special Local No 1 attended the meeting of local presidents held 2016 02 05–06. The meeting opened Friday evening with a provincial update, as well as a general session that included a review of emerging local issues and a question period. Following the conclusion of the general session on Saturday morning, local presidents attended two round-table discussion sessions of their choice. During lunch, local presidents had an opportunity for unstructured conversation. Participants then received a presentation of the proposed budget for 2016/17, which included an expanded discussion of Association accounting practices with respect to members’ equity. The meeting concluded with local presidents meeting in groups, with their district representative, based on their geographic districts.
Participants from 51 of the 55 local associations attended the meeting of local presidents held 2016 05 20 prior to the 99th Annual Representative Assembly. The evening featured a review of new resolutions from Council and an opportunity to discuss other resolutions. The meeting concluded with a question period.
Forty-nine participants attended the program offered to local presidents during Summer Conference in Banff. The program provided local presidents opportunities to review issues facing the Association, to meet with members of Council, to share information about local initiatives and to examine the local president’s role.
Fifty-one of the 55 local associations, as well as ARTA Special Local No 1, were represented at the meeting of local presidents held 2016 10 21–22. Friday evening opened with a provincial update and general session. Saturday morning began with the conclusion of the general session. Local presidents then attended a plenary session entitled “Walking Together: A Journey Begins,” received an update on election procedures and attended two round-table topic sessions of their choice. During lunch, local presidents had an opportunity for unstructured conversation. The meeting concluded with an issues session followed by local presidents meeting in groups, with their district representative, based on their geographic districts.
Assurance for Students ActTop of page
The framework agreement between the province and the Association was imposed by the Assurance for Students Act in May 2013 and was in effect until 2016 08 31. The framework contains multiple sections. In particular, Part C of the framework was included by the province to respond to the conditions of practice—such as teacher workload—that impede teacher efficacy. The province issued its first report in June 2013; the Association, on numerous occasions, requested further information and direction. While no meetings were held with partner groups in 2016, what follows is an overview of the year’s developments related to the framework.
The Third Party Study on Teacher Workload was released in April 2016. More than 3,374 teachers, 357 administrators and 173 central office staff participated in the year-long survey, making it one of the most comprehensive studies ever undertaken. The data—which resonate with such previous studies as The 2011/12 National Study on Balancing Work, Life and Caregiving in Canada: The Situation for Alberta Teachers and The Future is Growing Together: Building the Professional Capital of Teachers in Rocky View Schools—indicate that Alberta teachers work approximately 48 hours in a typical school week. When including time worked over break periods, this study suggests that Alberta teachers work more than 2,016 hours per year.
No provincial C2 meetings were held in 2016, as meetings related to the Public Education Collective Bargaining Act took precedence. Having worked to identify tasks that could be eliminated to reduce workload, C2 committees concluded their work at the end of June 2016. While committees identified numerous tasks, many boards were reluctant to implement significant changes. Overall, the process had mixed results. While some regions experienced positive change, including improvements in communication channels, most teachers saw minimal impact in their region.
With the expiry of the Assurance for Students Act, collective bargaining will take place under the Public Education Bargaining Act, which sets out a bi-level bargaining model.
Teacher Development and Practice Advisory CommitteeTop of page
In the 2013 legislated settlement, the Government of Alberta agreed to establish the Teacher Development and Practice Advisory Committee. The purpose of the committee was to advise the minister of education on any matter that would support or define the role of the teacher and the profession for the 21st century; on a continuing education requirement for all certificate holders to be administered by the Association; and on changes to legislation, regulation or policy that would allow greater access for noncertificate holders to provide instruction to students in subject areas where qualified teachers are not available. The minister is to consider any advice or recommendation from the committee that receives the support of a two-thirds majority. The chair of the committee was to be appointed by the Association and the vice-chair by the minister.
The Association named President H M Ramsankar to serve as chair and the minister named the registrar, P C MacLeod, as vice-chair. At its organizational meeting in 2014, then minister Jeff Johnson asked the committee to consider the recommendations of the Task Force for Teaching Excellence and to advise the minister. Since the completion of this task in 2014, no meetings have been convened. Since 2014, at least two teachers and four public members have resigned but no replacements have been named. The mandate expired on 2016 08 31 and the committee has been disbanded.
The teachers nominated by the Association and named by the minister were D B Arts, D R Grassick, L G Bloomfield, M H Ference and T J N Holmes. H M Ramsankar (chair) and G R Thomas were also members of the committee.
Special Projects and InitiativesTop of page
The Association periodically receives requests to fund and/or support special projects initiated by other organizations. Such requests are placed before Table Officers Committee, which, in turn, recommends appropriate action to Provincial Executive Council.
In 2016, the Association
- provided an annual contribution to Public Interest Alberta ($55,000) and purchased a table package of eight seats for its Annual Advocacy Conference in April ($800);
- provided an annual contribution to the Parkland Institute ($30,000) and purchased eight tickets to its Gala Dinner and Silent Auction in February ($875);
- provided financial and in-kind support to the Aspen Foundation for Labour Education for expenses related to program development and delivery (up to $10,000);
- provided an annual contribution to Friends of Medicare ($8,500) and purchased tickets to its Gala Dinner and Reception ($750);
- provided a donation in lieu of Christmas cards to the Alberta Division of the Canadian Mental Health Association ($1,200);
- provided a donation to the Canadian Red Cross to support victims of the wildfires in Fort McMurray ($100,000);
- approved a request from the Francophonie jeunesse de l’Alberta for in-kind support in the form of printing and distributing a French student guide for gay–straight alliances; and
- approved a request from the Outreach Education Council for a special project grant of up to one-half the cost (or $2,000) to support its development of new curriculum and modification of existing resources.
The Association provides financial and in-kind support to the Alberta Assessment Consortium, a not-for-profit registered society dedicated to enhancing student learning by supporting the development of high-quality classroom assessment practices.
The Association also provides financial and in-kind support to the 2Learn.ca Education Society, a not-for-profit educational alliance of the Association, Alberta Education, the College of Alberta School Superintendents and the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta that seeks to initiate, advocate for and share with educators technology-enriched teaching, learning and leadership options for tomorrow. In addition to providing professional development and mentorship for teachers, the society maintains a website (www.2learn.ca) featuring thousands of curriculum projects and resources created by teachers.
Finally, the Association provides financial and in-kind support to the Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities, a not-for-profit organization that builds community capacity to prevent bullying, violence and exploitation of children and youth through the promotion of healthy relationships. That support includes ongoing inkind support of $40,000 per year, accounting and payroll services, the services of a managing director, additional grants as may be determined by the Association from time to time, and payment of additional fees for services provided by the society to the Association as may be determined from time to time. The Association also collaborates with the society on projects of mutual interest.
Collaborative Projects with Other Education PartnersTop of page
The Association operates the Alberta Education Exchange Programs under contract with Alberta Education. The International Education Exchange Programs consist of reciprocal student exchange (short- and long-term) and teacher exchange (short- and long-term).
In 2016/17, 73 students (59 in 2015/16) participated in exchanges with Germany, Spain, Quebec, and Yamate and Hokkaido, Japan. In 2016/17, 17 teachers (14 in 2015/16) participated in year-long exchanges with different regions in Australia and Germany, and 14 (9 in 2015/16) participated in short-term exchanges with Germany and Spain.
Association research is coordinated in the Government program area, though staff from all program areas participate in Association research projects. Many of the projects are carried out with the assistance of universitybased researchers and with the support of the Association’s locals and other subgroups. During 2016, the following major research projects were completed or under way:
- The Future of Social Studies—The Voices of Alberta Teachers: The Association completed its collaboration with the Social Studies Council on a research project aimed at gathering teachers’ perspectives on the current state of social studies in Alberta classrooms. In 2015, researchers conducted a web-based survey that asked teachers to address the state of curriculum and instruction in Alberta. In 2016, the final study, which reports and analyzes the survey’s results, was published. Entitled The Future of Social Studies—The Voices of Alberta Teachers, the study examines the complex interrelationships between curriculum and instruction, assessment, teachers’ capacity to achieve the goals of the program, and the influence of ongoing changes in teaching and learning conditions.
- The Role of the Superintendent and the Teaching Profession: Initiated by the Committee on Superintendents in the Teaching Profession, the research report The Role of the Superintendent and the Teaching Profession represents the culmination of two years of work and the contributions of committee members and staff, as well as an expert panel of provincial, national and international researchers. The report, published in late 2016, investigates the role of the superintendent, particularly in relation to the teaching profession, to encourage and enable stakeholders to work toward a better understanding of leadership in education. Further, the report provides a literature review and suggests avenues for further research on the role of the superintendent.
- Education, Technology and Well-Being: The Association hosted an invitational research colloquium and associated public lecture entitled “Growing Up Digital in Alberta: Children, Youth and Society.” Co-sponsored by the Education Technology Council, the evening public lecture featured M Rich from Harvard University and L Rosen from California State University. The colloquium and public lecture facilitated examination of the psychosocial and physiological impacts of technology on children, youth and society. In addition, the Association continued its partnership with Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Alberta Faculty of Extension on a provincial technology, learning and health research project, The GUD Project—Growing Up Digital in Alberta. The Association is leading the design for this project and, with its collaborators, administered a survey in 2015 to identify a baseline for the research activity, especially in relation to students’ readiness to learn in a distracted digital age. Survey data were collected and, in 2016, an infographic and a research overview providing preliminary analysis of the data were published. The second phase of the project, which will include another survey, was also initiated in 2016. In addition to its work on Growing Up Digital, the Association began examining the datafication of learning and public education in partnership with the Canadian Teachers’ Federation and Education International.
- Teacher Efficacy and Off-Campus Education: The Association began work on a study focused on offcampus education to develop a deeper understanding of teachers’ sense of efficacy in this area. The study examines the conditions of practice that affect teachers’ capacity to fulfill their roles and responsibilities related to off-campus education. Informing the design and administration of the study was a working group comprised of off-campus teachers from four jurisdictions. The results of the study’s online survey, conducted in April and May 2016, will be contextualized and reviewed in a research report.
- National Research Project on the Principalship: As a lead partner in a national research project on the principalship, the Association collaborated with the Canadian Association of Principals on two surveys examining the critical influences shaping the work life of school leaders across the country. The first survey, conducted in May 2016, focused on the impacts of social media and digital communication tools. The second survey, conducted in June 2016, attended to the broader societal contexts shaping the work of school leaders, particularly in relation to the commercialization of public education, school district governance, professional development and support for inclusion.
- Teachers in their Early Years of Practice: The Association undertook a study focused on beginning teachers in Alberta, which will complement the Association’s report Teaching in the Early Years of Practice: A Five-Year Longitudinal Study, as well as other research attending to teachers’ early years of practice. At and following the 2016 Beginning Teachers’ Conference, the Association surveyed over 350 beginning teachers. Addressing a key issue highlighted in Teaching in the Early Years of Practice: A Five-Year Longitudinal Study—underemployment—the survey first asked respondents about their employment profile. The survey also attended to the Teaching Quality Standard and professional growth planning; supports available to new teachers, including Association supports; and professional practice and well-being. To better contextualize survey data, the researchers will conduct follow-up interviews.
- Rich Accountabilities: Examining educational accountability and provincewide assessment, the Association reported on the results of a late-2015 survey on the Student Learning Assessment (SLA) pilot. The report continues to inform efforts to advocate for a re-thinking of the current SLA initiative. To further address the potential of alternative approaches to Alberta’s current accountability model, the Association published a brochure entitled “Rich Accountabilities for Public Assurance: Moving Forward Together for a Great School for All.” The brochure outlines the profession’s views related to educational accountability and draws on recent research related to progressive alternatives to test-based accountability systems. In addition to these projects, the Association sustains an international network to counter the current accountability and data infrastructures that limit the potential for school development. In 2016, this work included holding Twin Peaks—A Global Summit on the Datafication and the Commercialization of Public Schooling and the Implications for Leadership, which brought together leading experts in educational reform who support the Association’s efforts to incorporate public assurance into a “rich accountabilities” framework.
- Resilience and Play: Working with Fort McMurray Local No 48, the Association held the Resilience and Play Research Summit in Fort McMurray on 2016 10 27–28. The summit focused on the role of play in the development of social, cognitive and creative skills, as well as the connection between play and resiliency across a lifetime. M Rich, who is engaged in a multi-year study entitled #MorePlayToday through the Centre on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital, facilitated the summit’s workshop and public lecture.
- Leadership for Teaching and Learning in Mathematics: The Association continued the NORCAN initiative in partnership with the Union of Education Norway, the Ontario Teachers’ Federation and the Ontario Ministry of Education. This initiative aims to establish a network of schools in Canada and Norway committed to improving student learning in mathematics through a commitment to equity. In 2016, the Association also engaged in a partnership with New Zealand that likewise focuses on excellence through equity in mathematics classrooms.
In addition to carrying out studies on topics of current concern, the Association administers the Member Opinion Survey on an annual basis. This survey seeks feedback from a random sample of full- and part-time members on a range of topics. The responses help the Association to track trends and to adapt its programs and services to more effectively meet the needs of members. Certain questions, especially those having to do with working conditions and teacher well-being, are posed in a similar form every year; other questions gather input on topics of current concern to the Association. Among the new topics broached in the 2016 survey were students’ readiness to learn, members’ satisfaction with teaching as a career, school district policies and practices, and school fees and fundraising. The survey was conducted in the spring and the final report was presented to Provincial Executive Council at its June meeting.
The Association also produces publications and engages in other activities to ensure that the results of its research connect with as wide an audience as possible. Through The Canadian Journal for Teacher Research—a copublished journal launched in 2014 by the Association and the University of Alberta—the Association has continued to promote educational research, with articles addressing such topics as inclusive education and educational policy and reform published online throughout 2016. In addition, to facilitate better awareness of the Association’s research, staff published a document, Research into Policy and Practice: Highlights 2015/16, which summarizes recent research studies and initiatives.
The Association also disseminates its research findings by presenting papers at provincial, national and international conferences, including the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association. In 2016, the Association also participated in the New York University Invitational Symposium, which brought together scholars in new governance and privatization in education, and contributed to a Harvard School of Education research dialogue on case studies of highperforming jurisdictions.
In addition to carrying out its own research, the Association supports the following research activities undertaken by other organizations:
- Cooperative Committee on Research in Teacher Education (CCRTE): CCRTE is a subcommittee of the Teacher Education and Certification Committee. Its purpose is to facilitate research on the preparation, the professional development, and the supply and demand of teachers. Because no emergent issues arose during 2016, the subcommittee did not meet. Members of CCRTE are J M Geiger (chair), R A Dressler (University of Calgary, Werklund School of Education), E M Gouthro (College of Alberta School Superintendents), G Ogilvie (University of Lethbridge), C Peck (University of Alberta), D Wishart (Advanced Education) and J C Couture (secretary). L J Yakimyshyn is administrative secretary.
- Alberta Advisory Committee for Educational Studies (AACES): Established in the 1950s, the AACES is a coalition composed of the Association and the faculties of education at the Universities of Alberta, Calgary and Lethbridge. Its purpose is to encourage and financially support educational studies on a broad spectrum of educational topics. The AACES is currently contributing funding for seven studies. In 2016, the Association contributed $7,300 to the AACES.
The following documents were updated or reprinted in French:
- Agenda 2016/17 (Members’ Diary 2016/17)
- Bienvenue dans la profession—Conseils pratiques pour un bon début de carrière (Welcome to the Teaching Profession—Getting Started)
- Renseignements détaillés pour s’inscrire et avantprogramme (Conference Information Package)
- Livret : Questions souvent posées par les enseignants débutants (Frequently Asked Questions for Beginning Teachers—Booklet)
- Enseignants débutants : Guide pour enseignants nouveaux dans la profession et à l’Alberta Teachers’ Association (Handbook for Teachers New to the Profession and the Alberta Teachers’ Association)
- Congrès des enseignants débutants—Session plénière (Beginning Teachers’ Conference—Plenary Presentation)
- Affiche : Enseignants débutants Congrès 2016 (Beginning Teachers’ Conference 2016—Poster)
- Guide : Principes pour le calcul, à fin salariale, des années d’études menant à l’enseignement (Principles for the Evaluation of Years of Teacher Education for Salary Purposes—Guide);
- Brochure : Multipliez les occasions d’enrichir votre pratique professionnelle (French professional development workshop—Brochure)
- Livret : Résumé des services en français offerts par l’ATA (ATA French Services—Booklet)
- Brochure : Régime de retraite des enseignants de l’Alberta (Alberta Teachers’ Pension Plan—Brochure)
- Affiche : Nous sommes enseignants, Semaine de l’éducation 2016 (2016 Education Week, We are teachers—Poster)
- Manuel d’orientation 2016/17 (2016/17 ATA Orientation Handbook)
- Brochure publicitaire pour la candidature à la présidence de la FCE (Publicity Brochure for the position of CTF president)
- Affiche annonce de l’ATA Educational Trust (ATA Educational Trust—Poster)
- Affiche annonce pour les bourses doctorales (Fellowship or Scholarship—Poster)
- Brochure : Enseignement à temps partiel (Part-Time Teaching: Frequently Asked Questions—Teacher Guide)
- Brochure : Administration de médicaments (Administration of Medication: Rights and Risks—Teacher Guide)
- Brochure : Permanence, résiliation de contrat et mutation (Tenure, Termination and Transfer—Teacher Guide)
- The following new documents were published in French:
- Brochure: Le mentorat vers une vie professionnelle équilibrée (Mentoring—Part of your healthy professional Life! Brochure)
- Affiche : Le mentorat vers une vie professionnelle équilibrée (Mentoring—Part of your healthy professional Life! Poster)
- Brochure : Enseignants de l’Alberta et d’outre-mer On s’aide… et on s’entraide… (Teachers… Reaching Teachers…—Brochure)
- Deux cartes postales sur l’éradication de la pauvreté : Tu m’avais promis que ça finirait (You promised me this would end. Two postcards to end poverty)
- Guide de l’enseignant : Alliances gais-hétéros, et allosexuels-hétéros dans les écoles albertaines (GSAs and QSAs in Alberta School: A guide for teachers)
- Brochure : Enseignants et assistants en éducation: rôles et responsabilités (Teachers and Educational Assistants: Roles and Responsibilities)
- Affiche : Conseil de spécialistes de l’ATA (ATA Specialist Councils—Poster)
- Affiche : Réservez dès aujourd’hui un atelier de PP de l’ATA pour votre communauté d’apprentissage! (Book an ATA PD workshop for your learning community today!—Poster)
- Affiche : Ateliers, cours et présentations offerts en 2016/17 par l’ATA (2016/17 ATA Workshops, Courses and Presentations—Poster)
- Traités Nos 6, 7, et 8 : Reconnaissance des terres (Treaties 6, 7 and 8 Acknowledgment of Aboriginal Territories)
- Affiche : D’un chemin à l’autre (One Way or Another—Poster)
- Affiche : Les enseignants élisent (Teachers Elect—Poster)
- Affiche : 8 façons de rester au fait des négociations (8 Ways to Stay Informed About Bargaining—Poster)
- Rapport annuel 2016 de l’Alberta Teachers’ Association des agentes et agents de liaison francophones de la FCE (ATA 2016 Annual Report to the CTF French First Language Liaison Committee)
In 2016, library staff gave presentations on the development of information-fluency skills at Summer Conference, Student Local Conference, Beginning Teachers’ Conference in Calgary, University of Alberta Student Mini-Conference, Edmonton Public Schools’ English Language Learners Educational Consultants meeting, Edmonton Catholic Schools’ English Language Learners Educational Consultants meeting and the Grande Prairie Mentoring Group meeting. The Association librarian also co-presented sessions at the Edmonton Convergence Conference and at the Pacific Northwest Library Association Conference.
Library staff created library displays and spoke with members at the Beginning Teachers’ Conferences; Leadership Essentials for Administrators Conference; University of Alberta Student Mini-Conference; the Diversity, Equity and Human Rights Conference; the Healthy Interactions Conference; the Teacher Welfare Area Conference; and the Greater Edmonton Teachers’ Convention. Library tours were given to groups of education students from Campus Saint-Jean, Concordia University of Edmonton and the University of Alberta, as well as to Association members and new Association staff. Library staff also provided job-shadowing opportunities to students from the University of Alberta.
Two new services were added to the library in 2016. First, two streaming video services were added to the library webpage to provide unlimited instant access to video resources for Association members. Second, the library established a new collection of makerspace technology, which was substantially enhanced by a technology grant from Alberta Technology Leaders in Education. New cataloguing and circulation processes were developed for the handling of this unique material. In the fall, these materials began circulating to teachers. In addition, the e-book pilot project from 2015 continued in 2016, with the addition of many new titles to this collection.
Executive staff promoted library services and distributed library marketing materials at numerous meetings. Articles about the library’s collection and services were included in the ATA Magazine and the ATA News. A new bookmark was created with both French and English text, and was distributed through school mailings and at Association meetings. The French language web resources available through the library’s Liste de sites internet en français were greatly expanded in the areas of sciences, mathematiques, études social, and beaux-art et musique. New English web collections were added to the library’s web resources on the topics of Disasters and Trauma, Careers Education, and Religions.
Members’ use of the library increased in 2016. As well, a total of 7,190 library materials were loaned to Association members and staff, representing a 21 per cent increase from 2015. A total of 1,060 new library resources were collected and catalogued into the online library catalogue.
Statistics on library services are presented in Table 1.
Table 1. Library Service Statistics
—physical materials loaned
—digital materials loaned
Information and research questions
Searches in journal databases
Searches in e-book database
* Data not available
Representation to the Government of Alberta/Other Political BodiesTop of page
The Association undertakes representation to the provincial government and other political bodies in a variety of ways: through formal presentations of written submissions, through face-to-face meetings without written submissions, through submissions and letters not involving meetings and through informal meetings and telephone contacts. Copies of submissions are sent to all MLAs. When appropriate, presentations are made to departmental officials rather than to elected government members.
In January, the president met with J Ceci, president of Treasury Board and minister of finance, and A McGrath, the premier’s deputy chief of staff. Topics of discussion included the provincial economy, teachers’ working conditions and communication with government.
Also in January, the president sent a letter to the premier, outlining the Association’s concerns with respect to children in Alberta classrooms who live and function in poverty.
Also in January, the Association met with the Alberta Education Advisory Committee for Building an Inclusive Education System. The purpose of the meeting was to share the first draft of an inclusive education policy framework. The Association met again with the committee in March to receive an update on the framework.
In February, Table Officers Committee met with D Eggen, minister of education. Topics of discussion included 2015 Annual Representative Assembly policy, government activities to date, pensions, curriculum revision, assessments, public assurance, collegiality and superintendents, workload issues, inclusion and areas for collaboration.
In September, the president met with A Sohi, MP for Edmonton Mill Woods, to discuss federal support for education.
Also in September, the president met with M Smith, MLA for Drayton Valley-Devon, to discuss Wild Rose education policy gaps and high stakes testing in relation to public assurance.
Also in September, the president met with D Eggen, minister of education, to review concerns regarding the Student Learning Assessment (SLA) program and the public assurance model.
The Association sent a letter to Alberta Education that outlined the importance of the 2Learn.ca Education Society to the teachers of Alberta and advocated for funding to enable the society to continue operations.
During the year, the Association brought to the attention of government resolutions passed at the 2016 Annual Representative Assembly that called upon the minister and government to
- restrict the release of SLA results to the classroom teacher, the teacher’s students and parents, and others authorized by the classroom teacher;
- act immediately on the 2013 commitment to replace the current Provincial Achievement Testing Program with a diagnostic SLA program focused on supporting classroom-based assessment;
- cancel Alberta’s planned participation in the 2018 administration of the Teaching and Learning International Survey;
- withdraw Alberta from participation in future iterations of the Programme for International Student Assessment, Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study;
- provide enhanced funding for refugee students enrolled in public, separate and francophone school authorities to meet student learning needs, especially language acquisition, inclusion supports and wrap-around services; and
- along with faculties of education and school boards, collaborate with the Association to address and resolve obstacles relating to the certification, education, recruitment and employment of refugee teachers in public, separate and francophone school authorities.
Liaison with Provincial OrganizationsTop of page
Table officers are responsible for maintaining contact with other provincial organizations. They fulfill this obligation by meeting with representatives of these organizations, attending their annual meetings, writing to them about specific issues and meeting with them informally as occasions arise. Table officers’ meetings and communications with representatives from provincial organizations are reported in section 5.
In addition, the Association was represented on several provincial bodies, including the 2Learn.ca Education Society, the Alberta Assessment Consortium, the Aspen Foundation for Labour Education, Friends of Medicare, the Alberta Education High School Completion External Committee, the Job Safety Skills Society, the Parkland Institute, the Alberta Education Excellence in Teaching Awards and Advisory Committee, Public Interest Alberta, the Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities, and the University of Alberta Faculty of Education Dean Selection Committee.
Interprovincial CooperationTop of page
Although the majority of the Association’s interactions with its counterparts in other provinces is conducted within the ambit of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), and, hence, is reported elsewhere, a small number of additional bilateral and multilateral activities took place in 2016.
Twenty-eight provincial and local executive staff officers attended the Western Staff Development Conference held 2016 01 31–2016 02 03 in Banff. The theme of the conference—hosted by the Association and attended by senior staff members from teachers’ organizations in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Yukon and Northwest Territories, as well as CTF—was “Moving Mountains.” D Berliner, Arizona State University, C Hyman, former executive secretary of the Association, and C Taylor, University of Winnipeg, headlined the event.
Concurrent with the meeting of western staff, President H M Ramsankar convened the inaugural meeting of Western Canadian Presidents. The meeting, also held in Banff, provided an opportunity for the elected heads of the teachers’ organizations from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon and Northwest Territories to meet to discuss matters of common interest.
President Ramsankar also attended the National Presidents’ Meeting, which brought together representatives of the provincial and territorial teachers’ organizations across the country, as well as the CTF, on 2016 05 29–2016 06 01 in St John’s, Newfoundland. A similar gathering of national secretaries was held 2016 05 29–31 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The gathering was hosted by the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union and was attended by the Association’s executive secretary, associate executive secretary and assistant executive secretary. Both events aimed to facilitate a broadly based dialogue concerning issues confronting the teaching profession and teachers’ organizations across Canada.
Liaison with National OrganizationsTop of page
The Association maintains contact with educational organizations outside of Alberta by sending representatives to their annual conferences, subscribing to their publications and maintaining informal contacts with their leaders. In 2016, Association representatives attended the conferences of the Canadian Association for the Practical Study of Law in Education and the Western Canadian Association for Student Teaching.
Canadian Teachers’ FederationTop of page
The Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) Committee advises Provincial Executive Council on national educational concerns, considers international projects for funding, screens applicants for Project Overseas and makes recommendations on relevant policies. Members of the CTF Committee are H M Ramsankar (chair), D A Bauer, M J Cyncar-Hryschuk, J M Geiger, S M Grainger, H Heavy Shield, C D Henderson, G A Jeffery, J Lafrenière, P M McCann, J L Regal, L O Richer, L A Szmul, G R Thomas, R J Twerdoclib and R T Mazzotta (secretary). K K Muench is administrative secretary.
The Association was represented nationally on four CTF committees: S M Grainger was appointed to the Advisory Committee on Diversity and Human Rights; H Heavy Shield was appointed to the Advisory Committee on Aboriginal Education; J Lafrenière was appointed to the Advisory Committee on French as a First Language; and D M Sellars-Myshchyshyn continued her term on the Advisory Committee on the Status of Women.
In addition, 14 delegates from Alberta attended CTF’s 96th Annual General Meeting (AGM), which was held 2016 07 13–15 in Montréal. Attending on behalf of the Association were D A Bauer, M J Cyncar-Hryschuk, J MGeiger, C D Henderson, G A Jeffery, R T Mazzotta, P M McCann, H M Ramsankar, J L Regal, LORicher, LASzmul, G R Thomas, R J Twerdoclib and P Q Yardley.
At the 2016 AGM, CTF President H Smith welcomed delegates, as well as representatives of the 16 member, affiliate and associate member organizations and special guests. Smith noted that the AGM would be key with respect to the planning and programming of the organization. Delegates then participated in an issues session on mental health and well-being. Delegates also set a budget for the upcoming year, contributed to the Strategic Goals Input Session, elected a president-designate and four vice-presidents and affirmed a slate of officers for the coming year, and recognized the CTF 2016 award recipients.
Education InternationalTop of page
Education International (EI) is a global federation consisting of 396 organizations representing 32.5 million teachers worldwide. The Association supports the work of EI largely through its membership in the Canadian Teachers’ Federation.
EI aims to foster high-quality public education for all children; improve the welfare and status of education personnel by supporting the development of democratic organizations for teachers and other education workers; advocate for equity and end discrimination in education and society; and promote democracy, sustainable development and solidarity. In carrying out its objectives, EI works with a number of international organizations, including the International Labour Organization, the World Bank, the World Health Organization and the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS.
International CooperationTop of page
The Association contributes to international cooperation primarily by participating in programs operated by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF). CTF’s Project Overseas is the largest component of the Association’s Overseas International Cooperation Program. In 2016, approximately 62 per cent of the Association’s International Cooperation funds were earmarked for CTF initiatives, while 38 per cent of funds were allotted to Alberta-based international cooperation initiatives, as well as to the organization of an ATA Debrief Day and an International Cooperation Orientation Day for outgoing participants.
The Association sent 10 teachers overseas under the 2016 Project Overseas banner. Along with 44 other Canadians, these teachers worked on 13 teams in 11 host countries. Under the direction of project coordinator M Chapman, Alberta teachers also participated in the ATA Masulita, Uganda Professional Development Project. Finally, four ATA International Cooperation Project participants worked under the direction of M Hollingsworth in the Commonwealth of Dominica as part of the 2016 ATA International Cooperation Dominica Project.
A new pilot program was approved for the summer of 2017. For the program, the Association will work in cooperation with Change for Children, which supports education needs in Nicaragua.
The Association also contributes financial and personnel support to overseas teacher organizations. In 2016, the Association, in collaboration with the CTF, supported the following:
- the Canadian Organization for Development through Education, which is currently undertaking a literacy program in Tanzania;
- Palliser Local in its technology enhancement program in the Commonwealth of Dominica;
- CoDevelopment Canada, which is offering leadership and nondiscrimination training to women in 13 Central American teachers’ organizations;
- Tools for Schools, Africa Foundation, which provides financial support to enable young women to attend Damongo Secondary School in northern Ghana as well as postsecondary institutions; and
- the Lantern Fund, a professional development initiative of the Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan.
The fifth ATA International Cooperation Debrief Day, “Transforming Our World from Your Experience to Your Practice,” was held 2016 11 05. The Association’s international executive staff officer, R T Mazzotta, with the assistance of the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation program director L Ettarh, facilitated the event. The event was attended by 12 teachers, all of whom had participated in an Association-funded overseas activity during the previous summer. Participants were given an opportunity to share their experiences with other overseas colleagues. They were also invited to provide feedback on all phases of their experience, and to participate in a global citizenship workshop to promote teacher and student engagement. The attendees participated in hands-on activities that focused on how their overseas experience could be used to improve their teaching practice and promote international cooperation as a means to achieve professional and personal development.
At its 2016 10 20–21 meeting, Provincial Executive Council approved the disbursement of the 2016/17 budget for periodic international cooperation ($3,500) to the Haitian Relief Fund through CTF and the Educational International Solidarity with Haiti program.
External Communications Top of page
ATA Magazine—In 2016, the Association published four theme issues of the ATA Magazine: “Opening the Vault,” “Up Where We Belong—Stepping Toward Self-governance of Alberta’s Teaching Profession,” “International Partnerships—Working Together to Build Purpose, Practice and Policy” and “Retirement—Preparing Teachers for One of Life’s Great Transitions.” The Association continued a contract, established in 2000, with Handysides Publishing of Edmonton, to handle advertising for the magazine. Revenue from the sale of advertisements helps offset the cost of designing, printing and distributing the magazine. The average circulation per issue in 2016 was approximately 37,100 copies.
ATA News—The ATA News is available to all members and distributed primarily through schools. It is the journal of record of the Association. Nineteen regular issues of the ATA News were published in 2016. The following inserts were produced: 2016 Resolutions Bulletin and 2016/17 Proposed Budget. Average circulation per issue in 2016 was 37,340 copies and total advertising revenue was $151,143. Costs were $315,099, resulting in a net cost of $163,956, or approximately $0.23 per distributed copy. The paper also provided an estimated $36,700 worth of complimentary advertising for initiatives sponsored by the Association and its community partners.
The Learning Team—In 2016, four issues of The Learning Team were published. The newsletter, which is distributed to Alberta’s school councils, is intended to strengthen the relationship between parents and teachers as they work together for children’s education. Average circulation per issue in 2016 was 25,500 copies.
Association Website—The website is the Association’s primary tool for communicating and engaging with its internal and external stakeholders. The website features a hierarchical active-menu system, a carousel, a features section, a campaign box, an active calendar, an Information On feature, a news feed, and RSS and Twitter feeds. The site includes a members-only section. Association staff has implemented policy and procedures to ensure that the site remains current. The Association uses analytical software to track the number of users and to identify ways of enhancing members’ experience. The website received 1,010,672 visits (874,039 in 2015) with an average of 6,771 page views per day (6,195 in 2015) in 2016.
Social Media—The Association has an active presence on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn and Pinterest. These social media sites are used to reinforce Association campaigns (both ongoing and short term), to engage communities of interest and to drive traffic to the Association’s website. The Association’s Twitter feed had 21,400 followers and its tweets generated 3.2 million impressions. The Association’s Facebook page had 8,170 likes and its posts generated 3.6 million impressions.
The Association’s Better Government Program continued to focus on enhancing teachers’ awareness of politics and the political process, increasing MLAs’ awareness of education, encouraging teachers to play an active role in the political process and communicating teachers’ concerns about matters affecting student learning.
The Political Engagement Seminar, held in March, was attended by 108 participants (112 in 2015). President HMRamsankar and J H Teghtmeyer, associate coordinator, Communications, opened the seminar on Friday evening with welcoming remarks. K Monk, political media commentator and panelist for the CBC’s The Insiders, delivered a keynote address entitled “Building Relations with Alberta’s New Government: An Insider’s Perspective.” A reception concluded the evening. Saturday’s program included an environmental scan from Teghtmeyer; a panel entitled “Newly Assembled: Perspectives from Newly Elected MLAs” that featured G Clark, NCooper and H Sweet; and a panel entitled “Gamechangers: How Organizations Are Adapting to the New Political Environment” that featured G Smith, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, and K Young, United Way of Calgary and Area. Teghtmeyer concluded the seminar by engaging delegates in a discussion on local engagement efforts.
A joint Local Political Engagement Officers’/Local Communications Officers’ Meeting, held in April, was attended by 75 representatives from 42 locals. Teghtmeyer welcomed participants to the meeting and provided an environmental scan before President Ramsankar gave a provincial update. Following lunch, K Unland, a journalist and social media practitioner, delivered a presentation entitled “Social Media and Alberta Politics.” Unland discussed the future of journalism and politics, and highlighted opportunities for public education before entertaining participants’ questions and comments. The meeting concluded with a session that enabled participants to create a social media action plan and calendar to use in the upcoming school year.
A second Local Political Engagement Officers’ Meeting was held 2016 11 04 and was attended by over 60 local representatives. Agenda items included a provincial update from President Ramsankar; an environmental scan from Teghtmeyer; a discussion panel on the American election featuring G Feeny, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, and C Henderson, Calder Bateman; and a school board trustee panel featuring Alberta School Boards’ Association President H Clease, as well as trustees R Hickman and B Stirling. The event closed with small group discussions.
At year-end, the corps of local political engagement officers stood at 53 out of a possible 55 members.
Locals encouraged their members throughout the year to contact government on issues such as teacher workload, education funding, class size and inclusion. Twenty-six locals (seven in 2015) took advantage of the political engagement grant provided to support such efforts.
Routine monitoring of the legislature continued throughout the year, and regular connections were made and consultations were held with opposition education critics and caucus staff.
Real Learning First InitiativeTop of page
The Real Learning First initiative has four goals tied to the Association’s Accountability Action Plan: (1) to inform teachers about the Real Learning First message by making presentations at teachers’ conventions and at events organized by Association subgroups; (2) to raise public awareness about the teaching–learning process by sponsoring or cohosting public relations events and activities involving parents, school councils and community leaders; (3) to engage other education stakeholders by cosponsoring symposia and producing publications focused on policy issues; and (4) to engage in international partnerships that complement the profession’s research-informed views on educational development and innovation.
As part of the ongoing efforts to support local leadership and better engage the community in achieving the four goals of the Real Learning First initiative, the Association collaborated with its locals and convention boards to organize advocacy initiatives. In addition, the Association continues to work on the development of a provincial network, the Forum for Public Assurance, composed of academics and experts in the field who are committed to finding better ways to report on how schools and the education system are meeting the needs of all students. The efforts of this network are also informed by the Association’s ongoing educational development publications including “Rich Accountabilities for Public Assurance: Moving Forward Together for a Great School for All” and a book project examining the impacts of the Programme for International Student Assessment on education policy and practice. To further support this network, the Association sponsored Twin Peaks—A Global Summit on the Datafication and the Commercialization of Public Schooling and the Implications for Leadership, an international gathering of experts on educational accountability held 2016 04 24–27.
These collaborative public events and supporting research activities have helped the Association to position itself as an authoritative voice on optimal student assessment and reporting practices and to advance an alternative to the government’s current test-based accountability practices.
International PartnershipsTop of page
Established in 2011, the Finland–Alberta (FINAL) partnership continued to focus on how Alberta teachers might learn more about system reform by collaborating with international partners. The partnership is based on the premise that transformation should be driven by innovations undertaken by networks of schools rather than by system edicts or centrally determined policy pronouncements.
The partnership operates according to seven strategies that were designed to sustain and scale out innovation over three years. The first two strategies involved activities that moved the partnership forward at the system level and focused on big-picture policy issues aimed at bringing about structural reforms and long-term strategic shifts in the two jurisdictions. For example, the Finnish government continues to develop its basic education sector to deal with the growing challenges of globalization and economic instability. Its work with Alberta over the past four years has proven invaluable because the same global factors are driving reforms in both jurisdictions. One of these factors is the global education reform movement, which is characterized by an excessive focus on standardization, technology and the marginalization of the teaching profession.
Scaling the leadership strategies developed within the FINAL partnership, Association staff initiated a partnership with Norway in 2014. The NORCAN project is focused on the commitment to improve student learning in mathematics informed by the principle of “excellence through equity.” NORCAN collaborators will examine how an international network can help to identify obstacles to students’ mathematics learning and develop strategies for attaining success through a process of collective inquiry supported by action research processes and external researchers. The key partners in the project are the Union of Education, Norway; the Association; the Ontario Teachers’ Federation; and the Ontario Ministry of Education.
In addition to the FINAL and NORCAN partnerships, the Association is in the initial stages in a partnership with New Zealand schools focusing on culturally responsive pedagogies related to teaching and learning in mathematics.
To improve their effectiveness in undertaking public relations activities, local communications officers (LCOs) met two times at Barnett House. The April meeting, held jointly with local political engagement officers, focused on the connections between social media and politics. At the meeting, participants created a draft social media calendar to be used for the 2016/17 school year. The fall meeting of LCOs allowed participants to refine this calendar. It also featured presentations on the 2017 Provincial Executive Council elections, the Walking Together: Education for Reconciliation initiative and effective public relations campaigns.
During the year, the Association issued nine news releases and advisories (15 in 2015) on the following topics: support for sexual and gender minority students, teacher salary, the provincial budget, the Annual Representative Assembly, supports available for teachers affected by the Fort McMurray fire, the election of Association President H M Ramsankar to the position of Canadian Teachers’ Federation president, local awards, and the release of Programme for International Student Assessment results.
Three locals received awards for outstanding work related to political engagement and public relations. The Local Political Engagement Award was given to Edmonton Catholic Teachers Local No 54 for its political engagement program, “Making Connections”; Fort Vermilion Local No 77 for the opportunities it created for teachers to meet with and talk to their MLA about education issues; and Calgary Public Teachers Local No38 for its programs that engaged MLAs throughout the school year.
Calgary Public Teachers Local No 38 won the Local Public Relations Award of Excellence for a program entitled “Positive Impressions of Teachers,” which actively engaged local members, highlighted the positive nature of the teaching profession in the Calgary community and created a strong social media presence for the local.
Support Our Students (SOS) Alberta won the 2016 Public Education Award. SOS is a parent-run initiative that aims to draw attention to the chronic underfunding of public education in Alberta.
In 2016, staff officers in the Government program area offered workshops and assistance related to local planning, strategic planning, media relations, public relations, communications, political engagement, advocacy, educational technology, the Real Learning First initiative, mental health and the effects of domestic violence. This assistance was conducted both over the phone and in person at local and school meetings. Staff also assisted Association subgroups in conducting research projects and implementing their strategic plans.