For the first time in more than a decade, the Alberta Teachers’ Association will undertake a review of teachers’ conventions.
It’s time to assess whether teachers’ conventions, as they’re currently structured, are still working, said Dan Grassick, the professional development staff officer responsible for conventions who will oversee the review.
“The teacher population has increased significantly in a number of locals to the point where convention size and assignments need to be explored,” Grassick explained.
The last review was held in 2005/06, with a prior one occurring in 1995/96. Both those reviews resulted in the formation of a provincial committee to explore conventions’ structure, financing, governance, programming and operation. After gathering feedback from members and subgroups, the committees produced a wide array of recommendations. At the time, the committees decided to maintain the geographic districts used for conventions but recommended changes for amending convention and local constitutions, and standardizing convention accounting practices.
||"By periodically reviewing teachers’ conventions, the Association can ensure that these annual professional development events are responsive to the changing needs of its members."
– Dan Grassick, ATA executive staff officer
Grassick is asking teachers to complete an online survey after they’ve attended their 2017 convention. The survey is currently live and will remain active until Friday, March 31. In the spring, there will be additional opportunities to provide feedback through local meetings, professional development committees and specialist councils.
“In light of changes to our educational landscape, it is time to examine the program structure and types of sessions offered by each convention, and to consider which self-directed professional learning activities members should be able to attend rather than their assigned convention,” Grassick said.
Teachers’ conventions have been held since the 1880s. Back then, they were a mechanism for inspectors to update teachers in the various areas of the province about changing policies and practices. The purpose and function of conventions didn’t change much until 1942, when they became the Association’s responsibility.
“Since then, the ATA’s teachers’ convention associations have organized these annual events with the goal of improving the teaching profession,” Grassick said.
Once focused largely on Association policy debates, local meetings and emergent issues, teachers’ conventions gradually became conference-style events aimed at providing workshops on curriculum and pedagogy, Grassick said. And, over time, conventions have included more sessions geared toward teachers working in particular subject areas and grades.
“By periodically reviewing teachers’ conventions, the Association can ensure that these annual professional development events are responsive to the changing needs of its members,” Grassick said.