Teachers’ conventions, as they currently exist in Alberta, are not the end product of intentional design. Unlike specialist councils, which the Alberta Teachers’ Association founded in the 1960s, convention associations are older than the Association itself. Over a century of shifting political, economic and professional pressure has shaped the model of teachers’ conventions that exists today. Periodically, the Association must set aside what has become “conventional about conventions” and imagine what these two days of teacher professional development should look like in a preferred future.
To this end, Provincial Executive Council established the Committee on Convention Review in June 2017 to review all aspects of teachers’ conventions, including their vision, mandate, structure, governance, operation, financing and programming.
From the data collected through its extensive consultation and research activities, the committee identified the following convention-related needs statements:
- Teachers need access to high-quality, self-directed professional development activities on convention days.
- Teachers need the types of professional development opportunities offered at convention (and other Association events) to connect/align with the goals in their professional growth plans.
- Teachers need to come together (i.e., convene) to share with and draw inspiration from their colleagues and to reaffirm the importance of their shared work.
- Teachers need to be confident that the fees they pay for convention membership result in the highest level of professional development programs and services possible.
- Teachers need convention boards to focus their energy on meeting members’ professional development needs.
- Teachers need the perception of their annual conventions to mirror the importance they place on their work.
- Teachers (especially those in rural and remote areas) need the time and expense of their participation at conventions to be recognized and addressed.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU
Please visit the Committee on Convention Review page at ATAConventions.ca to download a copy of the committee’s preliminary report and to access reflection guides and an online survey that can be used to submit feedback on the report and proposed directions.
The committee identified the various underlying aspects of these needs and developed 28 possible future directions the Association could take which, when taken collectively, map out a future for teachers’ conventions that will provide Alberta’s teachers with greater equity, autonomy and impact.
The committee’s preliminary report was presented to Council in October. In 2019, the committee will conduct a series of validation activities with members that will inform its final recommendations to Council. ❚
Dan Grassick is the chair of the Alberta Teachers’ Association’s Committee on Convention Review.