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ATA 101 - An Introduction to Your Association

September 21, 2021


Involvement starts at the local level

ATA 101 is a feature series aimed at informing members, both new and experienced, about various aspects of the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

This first instalment explores the various volunteer opportunities that exist in ATA locals. Watch for additional instalments in upcoming issues of the ATA News.

There are 55 ATA locals in the province, and they all offer a wealth of volunteer roles suited to a variety of interests, so whether you crave to be politically active or prefer to work behind the scenes, there’s likely a role for you in your local.

Many teachers who are involved in the activities of the Alberta Teachers’ Association got their start when they were new teachers, often by attending a meeting of their ATA local.

“When I was a first-year teacher, my former mentor teacher invited me to a meeting. I went, liked what I heard and never looked back,” recalls ATA president Jason Schilling, whose story mirrors that of many ATA volunteers, elected officials and staff officers.

“Before I knew it, I was on the Negotiating Subcommittee,” Schilling said. “I had no inkling that I’d eventually become president of the provincial ATA. I just kept taking on roles that interested me. The work felt important, and I liked feeling like I was contributing.”

Here is a summary of roles that exist in most ATA locals.


  • The composition of ATA locals typically includes positions most of us are familiar with, such as president, vice-president, past president, secretary and treasurer.
  • It’s common for members to work up to executive positions by first serving in other roles, but some are elected directly to the executive as their first volunteer role.
  • The executive members are typically part of local council and CSR, as well.
  • Most local council meetings are open and welcoming, allowing any member to observe and find out more about the local and its activities.


  • School reps act as a conduit between school staff and the ATA. SRs receive and gather information from the ATA and their local and bring it to the attention of teachers in their school. When teachers approach them with questions or concerns, SRs direct them to the appropriate expertise in the local or at Barnett House or SARO.
  • Along with the local executive, SRs are usually part of the council that provides governance for the local. In that capacity, they attend council meetings and represent the views of their school’s staff. Some locals call this local council, and others call it the council of school representatives (CSR).
  • School rep is the most common entry role for teachers who are new to volunteering in their local.


  • The local communications officer looks after the various communications functions a local might undertake, such as a newsletter, its website, social media, media relations, advertising and event management.
  • This role is another common entry point for teachers new to ATA work, and Barnett House provides a significant amount of training for members in this role.
  • “If people have an interest in communications activities, this is a great way to practise their skills,” says Jonathan Teghtmeyer, the ATA’s associate co-ordinator of communications, who got his start in this role in his local.


The local political engagement officer keeps local members engaged in political events and issues.  They

  • stay aware of political goings-on,
  • communicate these with members,
  • organize ways to bring members together with elected officials,
  • engage in campaigns to make members aware of candidates and issues, and
  • encourage members to participate in political activities and vote.


Locals operate a variety of committees. Many of the chairs of committees also sit as members of the executive, and most committees have positions for local members at large.

Professional Development Committee

  • The Professional Development Committee organizes professional development activities within the local.
  • There is often room on the committee for new members, and it is a good option for new teachers. Being a member of this committee is less political than other positions, and many teachers gravitate toward the committee as they find the work engaging and fulfilling.

Teacher Board Advisory Committee

  • The Teacher Board Advisory Committee enables the local to have conversations with the board about issues unrelated to bargaining.
  • In some locals, this committee is populated only by members of the executive; others include members elected at large.
  • In some locals, this committee is entrenched in the collective agreement.

Teacher Welfare Committee

  • The Teacher Welfare Committee oversees the negotiation of local collective agreements.
  • The committee deals with questions and concerns related to the collective agreement and other monetary and working condition matters, such as maternity leaves, benefits, pensions and grievances. It often serves as a liaison between the ATA’s collective bargaining department and local teachers.
  • The committee may include a representative from each school, or representation designed to cover various teaching assignments, such as teachers of various grade levels, administrators and substitute teachers.

Political Engagement Committee

  • The Political Engagement Committee exists to support the activities of the political engagement officer.
  • The committee sometimes comprises just one person: the political engagement officer.

Communications Committee

  • The Communications Committee exists to support the activities of the local communications officer.
  • The committee sometimes comprises just one person: the local communications officer.

These other committees may exist in a local:

  • Diversity, Equity and Human Rights
  • Women in Leadership
  • Substitute Teachers
  • Administration
  • Service to Members
  • Teachers’ Convention



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