The Professional Development program area helps teachers to establish and maintain high standards of individual and collective practice. Staff in Professional Development closely monitor issues relating to curriculum (including student evaluation), teacher evaluation, and teacher education and certification; respond to requests from locals, schools and other groups for assistance in setting up professional development activities; offer numerous presentations and workshops on topics related to professional development; make presentations about Association services to students enrolled in education programs at each of the four education faculties in the province; and offer an inservice training program for administrators. The Professional Development program area is also responsible for the Teacher Qualifications Service, teacher conventions, and specialist councils. Questions about the services offered by the Professional Development program area should be addressed to email@example.com.
Assistance to Local AssociationsTop of page
Staff in Professional Development provide advice to locals, most of which have established professional development committees that plan professional development activities tailored to address the particular needs of their members. Every second year, the Association offers a professional development course at Summer Conference, which is designed to prepare the chairs of these committees for their leadership role. Professional development chairs receive additional training and support at professional development area conferences, which the Association organizes twice a year.
Association Leadership ProgramTop of page
The overall purpose of the Association Leadership Program (ALP) is to work with locals to prepare members to function in Association leadership positions at the school and local levels. More specifically, the goals of the ALP are to
- promote the Association’s beliefs and policies;
- familiarize participants with the Association’s structure and programs;
- promote a collaborative model of leadership and organization;
- update participants on current educational problems and issues;
- help potential school representatives and local leaders acquire such important leadership skills as advocacy, assertiveness, communications, meeting facilitation, decision making, problem solving and conflict resolution.
In May of each year, the Association invites locals to apply for the program, which is delivered at the locals’ convenience during the months of September, October and November. Between 16 and 20 locals participate in the program each year.
The Association monitors curriculum and student evaluation matters on an ongoing basis and takes action as appropriate. Much of this activity is carried out by the Curriculum Committee, which is made up of practising teachers as well representatives from the universities, the Department of Learning and the College of Alberta School Superintendents. The committee receives reports from a network of teachers that the Association names to represent it on various committees of the Department of Learning and other outside organizations. These representatives not only keep the Association informed about changes affecting curriculum (such as new courses and programs of study) but serve as a vehicle for communicating the Association's concerns back to the Department of Learning and the other groups.
Each year, the Association organizes a curriculum seminar that brings together personnel from the Association, specialist councils, locals and the Department of Learning to discuss issues related to curriculum and student evaluation.
Diversity, Equity and Human Rights InitiativesTop of page
The Association has embarked on a comprehensive program to foster the development of inclusive learning communities throughout the province. Inclusive learning communities, which involve forging a partnership among the school, the family and the community, are based on inculcating in students the values of cooperation, trust, caring, sharing, respect and responsibility. In implementing this program, the Association has undertaken a number of initiatives, among them offering grants to locals and individuals who undertake projects that support inclusive learning communities; maintaining a network of local contacts to communicate information on diversity, equity and human rights issues; and developing and recommending resources to help prevent injurious discrimination in education. The Association has also developed a workshop for teachers entitled “Building Inclusive Learning Communities—Respecting Diversity, Equity and Human Rights in Schools”; published a monograph entitled Respecting the Differences; developed an online directory of diversity, equity and human rights resources; and begun publishing an electronic newsletter entitled Just in Time. The Association’s work in this area is coordinated by a standing committee known as the Diversity, Equity and Human Rights Committee.
Being formally welcomed as a new member of the Association is an important first step in the professional life of Alberta teachers. To ensure that beginning teachers and teachers coming to Alberta from other provinces and countries are properly oriented into the profession, the Association encourages local associations to offer orientation and induction programs to acquaint new members with such matters as the meaning of professionalism, the ethical obligations of teachers, and the structure and purpose of the Association.
Each August, the Association sends local secretaries a kit of materials designed for use in orientation programs and induction ceremonies. Each kit contains the following materials:
- ceremony instructions,
- an induction certificate,
- an induction card with the professional pledge,
- a copy of the Code of Professional Conduct,
- a copy of the Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities for Teachers,
- an Orientation Handbook,
- a brochure entitled “Teaching––A Profession,” and
- a brochure entitled “Why Is There an ATA?”.
Induction kits can be obtained by contacting Barb Bossert at Barb.Bossert@ata.ab.ca.
Leadership in Professional Development ProgramTop of page
Conducted by Association staff, this program is offered on request to school-based personnel interested in planning and implementing professional development activities tailored to the unique needs of their teachers. The program operates on the premise that, to be effective, staff development must be focused in the school and must take place on an ongoing and long-term rather than an occasional basis. The program consists of 18 to 24 hours of training spread out over three or four sessions. Topics addressed include models of staff development, communications skills, decision making, adult learning, professional development resources, assessing needs and group dynamics.
The Association helps locals and school jurisdictions to organize mentorship programs for beginning teachers. By pairing beginning teachers with veteran teachers, these programs help beginning teachers get started, acculturate to the profession and grow professionally. Drawing on such strategies as collegial support, reflective practice and collaborative learning, formal mentorship programs benefit both protégés and mentors in several ways. For example, protégés acquire skills and knowledge that enable them to become better teachers. For their part, mentors often feel a sense of renewal after participating in the program and, as a result, become more willing to try new teaching techniques. According to program evaluations, both protégés and mentors believe that the mentorship experience improves their teaching.
In 2003/04, the Association will develop a similar mentorship program for new principals.
Teacher Education and CertificationTop of page
One of the Association's objectives, as defined in the Teaching Profession Act, is to improve the teaching profession. Accordingly, the Association takes a keen interest in all aspects of teacher education, including institutional preparation, placement, orientation and inservice education. Although certification is a function of the Department of Education, the Association nevertheless works closely with the department in developing the procedures and requirements for initial and permanent certification.
Much of the Association's work in the area of teacher education and certification is carried out by the Teacher Education and Certification Committee, a body made up of practising teachers as well as representatives from the Department of Education and the four faculties of education. The committee is kept up to date by a network of representatives who serve on committees of external organizations such as the Department of Education and the universities. In addition to studying matters related to teacher education and certification, the committee administers the Association's program of grants and awards.
The Association also maintains four area field experiences committees, one associated with each education faculty in the province. These committees, made up of representatives from locals that accept field experiences placements from the affiliated faculty of education, monitor all aspects of the field experiences program offered by that faculty.
From time to time, the Association undertakes research on such issues as the preparation, professional development, and supply and demand of teachers. Much of this research is carried out by the Association's Cooperative Committee on Research in Teacher Education, which includes representatives from the major educational stakeholders in the province.