February is upon us and here in Alberta that means teachers’ convention season is beginning. Teachers from across the province will gather at 10 different conventions from Medicine Hat to Grande Prairie. While the conventions are all different, there are still many similarities. All offer two days of professional development for teachers across a wide spectrum of topics and subject areas. There will be motivational keynotes and there will be methods sessions for particular subjects such as “emergency instrument repair 10 minutes before the concert.” (This one paid off a number of times for me.)
I recall the excitement of my first convention many years ago. We descended on downtown Edmonton, streamed into the Shaw Convention Centre and then split up with our plans to meet for lunch or a beverage later in the day. I ran into acquaintances from university and we compared notes on schools and on employers. My booklet was highlighted with sessions I wanted to check out and I bravely attempted to find the various locales.
Go to your convention and have some fun. Connect with old friends and make some new ones.
What I realize now is how little I knew then about this PD time that I had. I thought that it was great that Strathcona County Schools and all the other employers represented could get together and agree on such a large event. I now know that while employers have two convention days in their calendars, this is a result of being required to by the School Act and that the entire event is planned and presented by volunteer members of the ATA.
Our association is entirely responsible for these two days of learning and is solely responsible for funding it. We do however have a responsibility to our employers to attend as these days are paid days in the calendar. The ATA takes convention attendance very seriously and there have been teachers who have been charged with unprofessional conduct and have lost salary for failure to attend.
But enough of the gloom and doom. Go to your convention and have some fun. If there are no sessions that connect directly to your assignment, expand your horizons or hit all the general and motivational sessions that you can. Connect with old friends and make some new ones.
I’ll be at all 10 conventions and would enjoy talking with you, so check out my session or come up and say hi if you see me passing by. ❚
I welcome your comments — contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.