The Nature of Teaching Duties (Part 1)
The COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably altered the work of teaching, and many Alberta teachers are feeling stretched past their limits. Clarifying the nature of teaching duties can help teachers manage the responsibilities of the profession and balance the ever-increasing demands on them.
Teaching duties are all the professional tasks encountered by teachers in the course of their activities related to the instruction of students, including
Sections 196 and 197 of the Education Act form the legislative basis for these duties.
196(1) A teacher while providing instruction or supervision must
(a) provide instruction competently to students;
(b) teach the courses of study and education programs that are prescribed, approved or authorized pursuant to this Act;
(c) promote goals and standards applicable to the provision of education adopted or approved pursuant to this Act;
(d) encourage and foster learning in students;
(e) regularly evaluate students and periodically report the results of the evaluation to the students, the students’ parents and the board;
(f) maintain, under the direction of the principal, order and discipline among the students while they are in the school or on the school grounds and while they are attending or participating in activities sponsored or approved by the board;
(g) subject to any applicable collective agreement and the teacher’s contract of employment, carry out those duties that are assigned to the teacher by the principal or the board.
(2) At any time during the period of time that a teacher is under an obligation to the board to provide instruction or supervision or to carry out duties assigned to the teacher by a principal or the board, a teacher must, at the request of the board,
(a) participate in curriculum development and field testing of new curriculum;
(b) develop, field test and mark provincial achievement tests and diploma examinations;
(c) supervise student teachers.
The Act further implies an expectation for teachers to carry out such general supervision of their students as may be required by law, by regulation or by agreement, in order to assist to a reasonable extent with the school program as agreed to by the staff. This expectation extends to cooperating with other teachers in the best interests of students and generally to acting as an engaged member of the school’s educational team.
While collective agreements provide Alberta teachers with limits on their assignable and instructional time, many duties required of teachers to fulfill their obligations fall into the category of professional time. In general, this professional time can be defined as the time that is directed by the teacher, including decisions about when and where the duties are done. Tasks that fall under professional time include the following:
The work time for these functions is not regulated in collective agreements, but they are obligations of the profession under the Education Act.
Along with instructional time and assignable time, teachers have a professional responsibility for activities such as planning, preparation, marking and reporting. The work time for these functions is not regulated in collective agreements, but they are obligations of the profession under the Education Act. #WEAREATA