This is a legacy provincial website of the ATA. Visit our new website here.

Local Report: PD Day hits right note for Fort McMurray Teachers

November 8, 2016 Shannon Dube, Local Communication Officer
Michael Rich speaks about growing up in a digital world.

It was a professional development day like any other, yet it was also different.

On Friday, Oct. 28, Fort McMurray Local No. 48 held its annual professional development day, which it calls Institute Day. The theme for this year was resiliency and play. After the traumatic events of May 3, teachers knew that this day would be a symbol of another return to normalcy; doing something we’ve always done.

The day itself was like many others: keynote speakers, smaller sessions we could attend during the day, and going out for lunch with our friends. But something about it did feel different. There were emotional speeches from our local president Nancy Ball and PD committee chair Deborah Nicholson. The emotions were about gratitude and relief to be back to our normal lives, and appreciation for the help and support we’ve received, and continue to receive, from colleagues and people around the province.

Photo: Kelly Webber

Teachers from St. Kateri Catholic School enjoy a talk by Dr. Michael Rich in Fort McMurray on Oct. 27. Pictured are (L-R) Heather Abraham, Amber Robichaud and Keri Finn.

On hand for the occasion were Alberta Teachers’ Association president Mark Ramsankar, executive staff officers Dr. Phil McRae and Dr. J-C Couture, as well as our three district representatives, Markiana Cynkar-Hryschuk, Darrin Bauer and Quintin Yardley. Having all these people present made us really realize how the Association continues to rally for our community and its teachers, as well as how much they wanted this Institute Day to feel, perhaps, a little more special than others.

And indeed, it was! With a special Thursday night public lecture that was nearly sold out, Dr. Michael Rich gave an exceptional talk about growing up in a digital world. He gave the same talk to all Fort McMurray teachers on Friday. We also had the honour of hearing Ariel Haubrich speak about anxiety and staff wellness.

All in all, it was a successful event that came together with the hard work and collaboration of many individuals. From speaking with other colleagues, I know it was definitely a day when we all learned something valuable and were reminded not to take the little things, like Institute Day, for granted. ❚

Quotes from Teachers

What was your biggest takeaway from Institute Day?

 "All media is educational and teaches your child something."

- Ariana Mancini, Grade 1, École Dickinsfield

 "I liked Dr. Rich’s quote “We lost a lot when friend became a verb instead of a noun.” I think it’s very true that even though we’re more connected, we don’t have as deep connections."

- Catherine Aasen, Grade 2, Timberlea Public school

 "I think Dr. Rich answered a lot of concerns teachers had with the amount of screen time and the impact of social media on their students. I took away that it’s not the device or app that’s the problem, it’s the context in which it’s being used. It’s the unsupervised, noneducational screen time that is having a lasting negative impact on our students’ mental and physical health."

- Gavin Rutledge, Grade 5, Christina Gordon School

 "As a first-year teacher at my first ATA Institute Day, I was overjoyed with the amount of valuable information Dr. Rich was able to provide on such a controversial topic."

- Jordan Miller, Grade 1, St. Anne’s School

" I have deepened my understanding of teen brain development and the anxiety teens have around their phones. It really gave me a new perspective on technology and where we are going in this world. I learned more about teen technology habits and how we can educate them and prepare them and ourselves for the changes to come."

- Meredith McNeil, Holy Trinity High School

Also In This Issue