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Democracy Bootcamp marches into Alberta

September 8, 2015 Jonathan Teghtmeyer, ATA News Editor-in-Chief

One-day engagement conference free for teachers

Teachers are being invited to don their fatigues, lace up their Doc Martens and come out for a brutal day of professional development. Well … not exactly, but teachers can expect some intense professional learning.

Democracy Bootcamp is an initiative of CIVIX Canada, the nonpartisan charity best known for running Student Vote. The one-day conference is open to both elementary and secondary school teachers and is designed to improve their democratic engagement and instructional capacity, and to enhance their delivery of the Student Vote program.

Two democracy bootcamps will be held in Alberta: in Calgary on Sept. 21 and in Edmonton on Sept. 29.

“An engaged and knowledgeable teacher is the most important part of Student Vote,” says Caitlin Hayward, senior program manager with CIVIX Canada. “Bootcamp is an intense professional development experience, and we try to pack in as much interesting and engaging content as we can.”

Previous CIVIX bootcamps have been held in Toronto and Vancouver, and another one is being planned for this September in Montreal. Hayward says she is excited to be bringing the event to Alberta.

“We’ve always seen that Alberta teachers are very engaged; in the spring 2015 provincial election, there were over 90,000 students casting a Student Vote ballot,” says Hayward. “That speaks to a group of teachers that is very committed to civic education.”

ATA President Mark Ramsankar describes these events as unique and timely opportunities for Alberta teachers.

“By all accounts, this federal election is looking like one of the most competitive three-way races we have ever seen,” Ramsankar said. “To have a free full-day conference available to teachers in each of the major Alberta metro areas — in the middle of the election campaign — is a real treat.”

Through grants and sponsorships, CIVIX Canada has made these professional learning opportunities nearly cost free for teachers. Although teachers will have to secure approval for their own release time, the costs of substitute teachers will be covered by CIVIX. There is no registration fee, and lunch and refreshments are being provided at the event. CIVIX is targeting local teachers, so no travel or accommodation expenses are being covered.

The agenda will include several panel presentations featuring well-known and highly regarded speakers.

“One of the favourites from previous bootcamps has always been our Inside the Campaign panel, with pundits and former political campaign ­managers — several of whom are regularly on ­national TV as commentators,” ­Hayward said. ❚

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