Welcome to In Focus, an ongoing series that shines a spotlight on the operation and programs of the Alberta Teachers’ Association. This instalment focuses on ATA committees.
For Jason Schilling, becoming involved in committee work with the Alberta Teachers’ Association was a hands-on way to up his advocacy game.
The Lethbridge teacher and Provincial Executive Council (PEC) vice-president has sat on 11 Association committees in the last nine years and remains enthusiastic about them.
"Committee work allows you to become involved on a level that has a direct and lasting impact on the profession," he says.
"Often you get to talk about issues with stakeholders who have direct involvement, such as Alberta Education."
PEC maintains nearly two dozen standing committees on topics of concern to teachers. These committees range in size from six to 18 members and generally consist of at least one Council member (as chair), at least one staff officer (as secretary) and a number of practising teachers.
These teachers are selected on the basis of their expertise, their commitment to the Association and, in some cases, their geographic location and area
Standing committees meet anywhere from two to five times per year. Meetings are usually held in Edmonton but some, such as the Substitute Teachers Committee, meet in Calgary.
When warranted, Council will also form ad hoc committees to achieve specific purposes and disband them after these purposes have been met. The Barnett House Expansion Committee is an example.
All committees report their activity to PEC.
“Committees inform the work we do,” says ATA president Greg Jeffery. “You don’t have to be on PEC for your voice to be heard.”
Fort McMurray teacher Shannon Dube has served on the Communications, Advocacy and Political Engagement Committee (CAPEC) since 2015.
“I feel like I’m informed about what the Association is doing and I get to contribute to it,” Dube says.
One of her favourite projects has been the group’s work with guiding the ATA’s strategic direction, including a three-year public relations campaign that will launch in the fall.
“When that comes out, I’ll certainly feel like I had a part in that,” she says.
Thinking of joining a committee?
In a typical year, about 20 to 25 new members are appointed to committees.
“We want to preserve a level of continuity so that our committees operate effectively even while some of the members change,” Jeffery says. “That’s why we make relatively few appointments.”
In order to be considered for a committee, teachers must have demonstrated a commitment to the work of the Association.
Ways to achieve this include attending the Annual Representative Assembly (ARA) in May or volunteering at the local level. It’s also a good idea to cultivate a relationship with the appropriate district representative (DR), as these individuals are often asked by PEC to vouch for committee candidates.
“The work is really satisfying and fulfilling,” Dube says. “I would highly recommend people to get involved in their profession that way.” ❚
|ATA Standing Committees
Area Field Experiences Committees
These four committees monitor the practicum components of teacher education programs at Alberta universities.
Canadian Teachers’ Federation
Co-ordinates the Association's involvement with its national affiliate, the CTF; composed of Alberta members of the CTF board, Association table officers, delegates to the previous CTF annual general meeting and Association reps on CTF committees.
Communications, Advocacy and Public Education Committee (CAPEC)
Recommends activities to highlight the importance of public education and the essential role of teachers in delivering it.
Monitors curriculum changes and developments affecting student evaluation.
Diversity, Equity and Human Rights (DEHR) Committee
Studies diversity, equity and human rights issues in education and proposes initiatives to address inequities.
Oversees the Association’s finances.
Studies and monitors pension issues of concern to the Association.
Political Engagement Committee
Advises Council on political issues and strategies, coordinating Association political activities at the local and provincial levels.
Professional Conduct Committees
Made up of the Professional Conduct Committee, the Professional Conduct Appeal Committee and the Professional Conduct Complainant Appeal, these groups deal with professional conduct issues.
|Professional Practice Committees
Made up of the Professional Practice Review Committee, the Professional Practice Appeal Committee, and the Professional Practice Complainant Appeal Committee, these groups deal with professional practice issues.
Processes resolutions submitted by PEC, locals and specialist councils for consideration at the Annual Representative Assembly (ARA).
School Administrator Issues and Concerns Committee
Advises on matters affecting school administrators and helps co-ordinate services.
Strategic Planning Group
Identifies, studies and provides action on emerging issues of potential concern to the Association.
Substitute Teachers Committee
Studies the concerns of substitute teachers and organizes an annual conference for them.
Table Officers Committee
Makes decisions on administrative mat-ters, structures the agenda of PEC, communicates Association policy to the government and other bodies, and acts on behalf of Council in emergencies or when time is of the essence. (This committee does not include field members. It’s comprised of the president, the two vice-presidents, the past president, the executive secretary and the associate executive secretary.)
Teacher Education and Certification Committee
Studies matters related to the education and certification of teachers.
Teacher Welfare Services Committee
Provides advice on collective bargaining, education finance, employment insurance, workers’ compensation and financial services.
Well-Being of Children and Youth Committee
Studies issues such as the integration of children’s’ services, the negative impact of poverty and the importance of early intervention.