In Focus: On principal

January 16, 2018
Cory Hare, ATA News Managing Editor

The Leadership Essentials for Administrators conference is one of many programs and services that the Alberta Teachers’ Association provides for school administrators.

Association has many programs for school administrators

 
Welcome to In Focus, a new ongoing series that will shine a spotlight on the operation and programs of the Alberta Teachers’ Association. This first instalment is focused on the workings of Provincial Executive Council, or PEC.
 

When he was new to the job of school principal, Joe Dumont knew he needed help.

So, like many others before him, he turned to Leadership Essentials for Administrators (LEA), a two-day professional development event hosted by the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

“It was awesome,” Dumont says now, several years later. “I left there with about 16 different ideas for the school. It just really filled my toolbox.”

Held every fall for school administrators who are in the first five years of their leadership roles, the LEA conference is just one of many programs and services that the ATA provides specifically for school administrators.

They’ll call us for advice, which is, of course, what we’re here for.
–Robert Mazzotta,
Member Services
co-ordinator

“It’s really important that those members of the ATA get served just as well as any of our other members and so we make a really good effort to do that,” says Jeff Johnson, a staff officer in the Professional Development (PD) program area.

PD is a hub for the Association’s administrator-focused programming as it offers dozens of workshops and seminars to help administrators fulfil their leadership responsibilities and improve their schools. Among the available workshops are sessions focused on legal issues, Indigenous knowledge, establishing inclusive learning environments, fostering effective relationships and public relations, to name just a few examples.

A major PD offering is the five-day Educational Leadership Academy, a summer program for principals, assistant principals and others in leadership positions. Sponsored by the Association and its Council for School Leadership, the academy aims to improve the effectiveness of schools by enhancing the professional growth of educational leaders. The academy focuses on topics such as instructional leadership, ethical leadership, effective communication, the agile leader and healthy working relationships.

The Member Services program area also delivers a major series of workshops — the Teacher Growth, Supervision, Evaluation and Practice Review Workshop. This two-day event focuses on the principal’s role and duties related to teachers’ professional growth and ongoing supervision, as outlined in the School Act and Alberta Education’s Policy 2.1.5.

Also within the Member Services program area, the Association established the position of associate co-ordinator—administrator assistance several years ago. The idea was to provide administrators with an in-house administrative expert who could provide advice on procedural issues related to discipline, supervision and evaluation of teachers, transfers and terminations and help administrators resolve internal disputes with their school staff.

The associate co-ordinator works out of Barnett House in Edmonton and can be contacted there.

“The goal [of the position] is to help provide assistance to administrators, but that’s not the only person that administrators can speak to,” says Member Services co-ordinator Robert Mazzotta.

All Member Services executive staff officers, both in Barnett House and in the Southern Alberta Regional Office (SARO), can provide advice to individual administrators.

“They can talk to any of the executive staff or whichever duty officer is on call,” Mazzotta says.

Each year, Member Services fields several hundred calls from administrators. Many of these calls come from administrators who are in the earlier stages of their leadership roles, Mazzotta said, and more calls come from remote areas where support networks aren’t as readily available as they are in larger urban areas.

“They’ll call us because they really need to bounce an idea off of somebody. They’ll call us for advice, which is, of course, what we’re here for,” he says.

Workshops, presentations and PD opportunities

View workshops and presentations currently being offered through the ATA.

View professional development opportunities that may be of interest to administrators.

 

‘A rough gig’

In the Teacher Welfare program area, staff officers are on call to field teachers’ questions about collective agreements and benefits. These officers routinely field such calls from administrators, who are covered by the same collective agreements that they must also implement at the direction of their employers.

Given the last central table agreement, Association staff have been providing a lot of advice to administrators on how to implement provisions related to assigned time and instructional time, says Teacher Welfare co-ordinator Sandra Johnston.

And with Teacher Welfare starting to prepare for the next round of central table bargaining, Johnston expects that making life better for administrators will be a priority.

“We know that principals’ and other administrators’ workload has increased and that’s probably going to be a big push in the next round of bargaining … getting some workload relief for those people,” Johnston says.

“It’s a pretty rough gig, really, and I’m just thankful that such talented people continue to choose to do it.”

Other services for administrators

Leadership Update

Leadership Update is a newsletter the Association publishes several times a year to provide information on current issues and initiatives. It is distributed to principals via school mailing, and electronic versions are also available on the Association’s website.

Council for School Leadership

One of 21 specialist councils of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the Council for School Leadership is available to principals, assistant principals, central office leaders and teacher leaders who aspire to leadership roles or have an interest in school leadership. The council is committed to the promotion and advancement of excellent practices in educational leadership.

The council is planning to publish a new research journal several times a year.

The council also hosts a renowned international conference, known as uLead, attracting 1,100 to 1,400 people from around the world to Banff each year.

Library services

Administrators are encouraged to use the Association’s extensive professional library, which has materials in both English and French. Library staff will research topics, gather information and send library materials to members upon request.

iTunes U

The Association has a site on Apple’s iTunes University that offers free course content to teachers. A variety of these courses focus on school leadership.