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Teacher exchanges to take place in person and virtually next year

June 14, 2022 Cory Hare, ATA News Managing Editor


Teachers from Alberta and Australia meet via Zoom as part of the ATA’s e-exchange program.


After two years of offering its short-term teacher exchange as a virtual rather than in-person experience, the Alberta Teachers’ Association is getting set to proceed with both options next school year.

“It was exciting to see how the pandemic opened up new opportunities for teachers to work together. We’re pleased that teachers can choose between virtual and in-person options, or perhaps do both to enhance their experiences,” said ATA associate executive secretary Joni Turville, who oversees the exchange program.

Traditionally held as a two-week exchange whereby participants take turns hosting and shadowing each other, the program switched during the pandemic to a series of virtual idea exchange sessions. As it turned out, this format opened the door to participants who otherwise would not have applied, so virtual exchanges will continue even as in-person exchanges return.

“Offering virtual exchanges really has created a niche,” said exchange liaison Carolyn Freed. “There are plenty of folks who are too busy to do the in-person program who jump at the chance to exchange virtually.”

Freed describes the virtual exchanges as a “scaled-up professional pen pal experience.” Teachers connect with their exchange partners outside of class hours to virtually explore a variety of topics over six weeks, such as inclusion, student and teacher wellness, rural and remote education, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), second language learning, Indigenous education and leadership development. 

The program is now accepting applications for school leaders and teachers for the e-exchange with Australia, Spain and Germany.

In-person exchanges

The ATA’s short-term, in-person exchange program is a seven- to 10-day exchange, whereby participants are hosted by their exchange counterpart and accompany them to their school for one to two weeks. Participants then host their counterpart for one to two weeks so they can experience our school system. Alberta participants travel during a break period in their school year, typically spring break. 

The ATA has in-person exchange partnerships with Germany, Iceland and Spain. The program is also taking expressions of interest for a possible two-week exchange to Australia. Applications for exchanges for teachers and school leaders are now open for the 2022/23 school year. ❚


Exchange info

Details on short-term exchange opportunities and the application process can be found at or by contacting exchange liaison Carolyn Freed at or

Besides its short-term exchanges, the ATA runs year-long exchanges. That program is currently paused.

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