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Enhancing Mount Royal's Education program

An important partnership between Mount Royal University and the Alberta Teachers’ Association has been formalized with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.

Mount Royal President, David Docherty, and Irene Naested, chair of the Department of Education and Schooling, travelled to Edmonton on Dec. 6, 2012 to sign the MOU, along with the Dean of the Faculty of Teaching and Learning, Jim Zimmer.

“This memorandum provides formal recognition of Mount Royal’s Education program in the eyes of the ATA,” Zimmer says, noting that this recognition will be important for both students and graduates of the program.

For current Education students, Zimmer says, the relationship with the ATA will bring additional opportunities to meet with and learn from practicing teachers and association representatives

“Many people think of the ATA only as the bargaining association for Alberta teachers, but it also plays a very important role in teacher professional development,” he explains.

“As an illustration, under this memorandum, the ATA will come to Mount Royal to deliver workshops to our students several times each academic year.”

Session and workshop learning opportunities

The workshops and sessions are presented through a student-run local of the ATA called the Education Undergraduate Society. It has been active on campus since 2010 and, says the Society’s co-chair, Nicole Rusnak, it aims to present workshops for students once a month.

“Professional development is an ongoing and crucial part of being an educator,” Rusnak says. “These workshops cover important topics which might not be discussed in class and provide scaffolding for our previous knowledge.”

Rusnak’s fellow co-chair, Ben Koch, says that attendance at the workshops has been growing steadily over the last year.

“As pre-service teachers, it’s beneficial for us to constantly improve our knowledge, skills and attributes, and ATA workshops, among others, are a platform for this to be realized,” Koch says.

“It’s beneficial to become familiar with and develop professional networks with our future partners in the ATA.”

Providing more resources

The MOU also enables Mount Royal Education students to use the materials and resources housed in professional lending libraries in ATA offices.

For Mount Royal faculty, the memorandum brings opportunities to access research grants and awards through the ATA and to sit on one of more than 20 specialist councils, which Zimmer says have been created by the ATA to foster the professional development of teachers interested in common curriculum or specialty areas.

Mount Royal will also be represented on the ATA’s Teacher Education and Certification Committee, and the ATA will send a delegate to participate in Program Advisory Committee meetings for Mount Royal’s Education program.

— Nancy Cope, Jan. 24, 2013