Editorial: We’re listening

January 26, 2016 Jonathan Teghtmeyer, ATA News Editor-in-Chief

My first Annual Representative Assembly (ARA) as a staff member was a real doozy. If you were there, you will remember it. It was 2008 and delegates passed a motion striking the budget for the ATA News

For a number of reasons, that ARA decision was ultimately overturned and we continued to publish the ATA News. However, the underlying issues and concerns voiced at that assembly prompted us to make some changes.

Since that ARA, the Association conducted a communications audit and moved forward on many of its recommendations. Communications staff members have adapted to changing media use patterns by dramatically changing the way we communicate with Association members.

We now use a broad range of tools to get our messages out — we’ve overhauled our website, engage regularly in social media and have an iPhone application. Furthermore, we continue to evaluate all our communications strategies. As part of our diversified strategy, we continue to publish and distribute a print version of the ATA News.

However, this isn’t the same newspaper that we were publishing a few years ago. In 2013, we redesigned the layout and visual identity of the ATA News to make it more eye-catching and reader friendly. We looked at our lineup of stories and how we report on them. We moved the most popular content toward the front of the paper. In addition, we systematically publish news content on the web and on social media. We also strive to find ways to regularly bring in teachers’ voices and include pictures and content from around the province.

Our efforts appear to be working. The results from the recent ATA News readers’ survey (see story on page 7) speak to the value and importance of the paper, and they show strong growth in many of the most important measures when compared to the results of our last survey in 2012.

Not only are readers spending more time with the paper, they are also reading more of it — 87 per cent of readers spend more than five minutes with each issue of the paper and 63 per cent of readers go through at least half of the ATA News. I think these are strong indicators, especially given how busy teachers are.

Further survey questions provide some insight into the reasons teachers make time to read the ATA News. Readers agree that the paper makes them feel more connected to the profession, helps them understand education issues, boosts their confidence in discussing education issues and increases their level of engagement with the Association.

We also know that you want to read about current education issues, updates on collective bargaining and professional development opportunities. We aim to feature these regularly and prominently in the paper.

However, we need your help too. You said you want human interest stories, teaching tips and stories of initiatives from other schools. Well, we want to hear from you about these things. Do you know of a teacher with an interesting story? Is your school engaging in a unique program or initiative? If so, let us know. Similarly, we are looking at ways to introduce more teaching tips in the paper. But we know the most valuable tips will come from you and your colleagues. So, in the next few issues we’ll be asking you to contribute some of your best teaching tips.

This paper is your paper so please contribute to it. We look forward to hearing more from you and expanding the use of your voices in these pages. If you have any ideas, please contact me.

In the meantime, please enjoy the paper — it is for you. ❚

I welcome your comments—contact me at jonathan.teghtmeyer@ata.ab.ca.

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