ATA … at your service
It’s a privilege to lead an organization like the Alberta Teachers’ Association, knowing that its focus is on service to members and supporting public education. Service, however, is often misunderstood.
Truly, many of our members don’t understand the Association’s work and are often left feeling that they’re not being heard and that their professional organization leaves them to work on their own.
There are four program areas that make up the Association’s structure, and this issue of the ATA Magazine is focused on the Member Services area. Knowing that Member Services is a key component of who we are, why then is there a feeling of isolation and misunderstanding?
The membership at large often views the ATA as an insurance organization that handles issues like contract interpretation, memorandums of agreement, support for professional development and representation to government and other education partners. The organization is viewed as representing the voice of teachers within the education sphere. Although this is correct, the ATA also provides direct support to individual teachers when it’s needed. In this context, the ATA steps in like your house or vehicle insurance provider when you’ve had an accident or break in.
Member Services is one area of the Association that directly impacts teachers when this need for individualized service arises. In many of these cases, service takes the form of support and facilitation, and moving forward occurs under the member’s direction and with the member’s permission.
I often hear from our members that they appreciate the ongoing advocacy and lobbying work that their elected representatives (Provincial Executive Council) conduct on their behalf. However, based on the regular feedback I get, I can see that ATA members tend to judge the organization’s effectiveness based solely on its ability to bring about tangible results within provincial education issues and often aren’t aware of the invisible, day-to-day supports and services that the Association provides to individual teachers.
Through my national and global travels, I’ve had conversations with educators from outside Alberta and their efforts are to create organizations that mirror the Alberta Teachers’ Association. We are the standard that others are trying to reach. Many of our members don’t know this. I’ve spent the first year-and-a-half of my presidency travelling the province and spreading this message.
I encourage all our members to read the ATA Magazine and the ATA News, as both are award-winning publications that highlight issues that are pertinent to teachers. I also encourage our members to visit the ATA website. Make the effort to log in and create a profile. Taking the time to read the information that’s available and staying abreast of the issues in education are very important for all of our members.
Our Association, as I report to all new inductees, is only as strong as the participation of its members. We can continue to be the global standard and our members can find a sense of pride in their Association through their involvement. Such involvement might only take the form of reading and staying informed. Knowing who to ask when issues arise is important, and contact with your elected officials and/or calls to Barnett House will help.
Knowing what the issues are that impact you and how they are being addressed in an ongoing fashion through your reading will also help us in supporting you. I know the quality of service being provided by the individuals at Barnett House, and it is incredible. We take pride in representing the teachers of Alberta and take the work very seriously.
I encourage you, as active members in the Alberta Teachers’ Association, to keep in contact with your representatives and the staff at Barnett House. Rest assured that your needs are being addressed by individuals who are driven to serve you.