Extracurricular activities are a great way to work with students in a noninstructional setting and can often be a rewarding experience for teachers as they watch students develop new skills and have fun. For this and a host of other reasons, many teachers choose to help organize and facilitate extracurricular activities for students each school year. Although many teachers choose to do so on a voluntary basis, sometimes teachers are pressured or directed to do so. What are a teacher’s obligations in such a situation?
To determine a teacher’s obligations regarding mandated extracurricular activities, it is necessary to review several areas. One is the teacher’s individual contract of employment. Although many contracts of employment are silent on the matter of extracurricular activity, some teaching contracts may include clauses that state the teacher agrees they will be required to perform “any extracurricular duties as may be required by the Division, through its administrators, from time to time, and as may be reasonably required.” It is recommended that teachers review their individual contract of employment to see if such clauses exist.
The second area is the Education Act. Even if a teacher’s individual contract of employment is silent on the matter of extracurricular activities, a principal has the authority to direct a teacher to perform certain tasks. This right of a principal is found in section 197 of the Education Act:
197 A principal of a school must
(e) direct the management of the school,
Although this is quite a general clause, it does give the school’s principal the statutory right to direct a teacher, which could include a directive to perform an extracurricular activity. However, a directive such as this does come with some limits. Any such directive must be reasonable in the circumstances, and cannot be contrary to any rights of a teacher in the collective agreement, which is the third area to review.
Collective agreements across Alberta vary widely on a teacher’s rights and obligations regarding extracurricular activities. Some collective agreements include language that clearly articulates that a teacher’s involvement in such activities is strictly voluntary, while other agreements state that the extent of staff involvement in extracurricular activities “shall be determined by the principal and the principal’s staff.”
Another important consideration with the collective agreement is assignable time. A teacher’s collective agreement may contain a clause that limits the amount of time, called assignable time, that a teacher can be assigned to perform tasks. If a teacher is directed to perform extracurricular activities, and the teacher’s collective agreement permits, such activities can be assigned to a teacher, but only to the limit allowed by any existing assignable time clause in the collective agreement and within a reasonable work day.
It is important to note that teachers have always had the ability, within contractual limitations, to decide for themselves what extracurricular activities they are willing to do. As they progress through their careers, a teacher’s ability to donate their time and talents may change. This may be the result of many factors, such as but not limited to, family commitments, birth of a child, and general workload. Teachers need to be sure they find a balance that allows them to meet their commitments, both professional and personal. Give your best, not your all.
Given the wide variation possible in a teacher’s individual contract of employment, clauses in their collective agreement and potential directives by their principal, a teacher’s rights and obligations regarding extracurricular activities can be highly contextual. It is recommended that teachers call Teacher Employment Services for advice specific to their individual circumstances.
Many teachers in Alberta choose to voluntarily organize and facilitate extracurricular activities for students. But what about when a teacher is directed to do so? The answer is specific to a teacher’s circumstances and is found by reviewing their individual contract of employment and their collective agreement. For contextual advice, call Teacher Employment Services at 1‑800‑232-7208. #WEAREATA