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CONFERENCES, why do we attend them?

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From left, NGPS Learning Services Coordinator, Stephanie Damery; Assistant Superintendent, Sheila Ranslam; Superintendent Kevin Andrea; PHRD Assistant Superintendent Mark Thiesen and NGPS Learning Services Coordinator, Jennifer Ferguson.

Conferences are a type of professional development (PD). In Education, as in any profession, ongoing learning is crucial to supporting students. PD is vital to ensuring that educators, and the staff that lead and support them, are equipped with the most contemporary knowledge, practice and resources available to them.

The College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS) is the voice of educational leaders, providing leadership, expertise and advocacy to improve, promote and champion student success. CASS is committed to the ongoing professional development of its members and their designates down to a school level. As such, the organization is regularly involved in orchestrating learning opportunities throughout Alberta as part of its commitment to develop personnel who can provide students with the best education possible.

Each year, CASS and Alberta Education jointly host a Conference as a PD opportunity for Superintendents, jurisdiction leadership, and education partners in Alberta and across Canada to come together. The purpose of the event is to engage in learning from government officials, education leaders, and colleagues around multiple topics that will benefit Alberta students.  

Rest assured that such an event is not hosted at the expense of students: partners in education who believe in the work that is being done to support students, staff, and leaders generously offer their monetary support. This year’s CASS/Alberta Education Conference sponsors included ASEBP, ezRobot, Pearson Education, MindFuel, the National Institute for Professional Practice, and ThoughtExchange as sponsors.

Pathways for Leading and Learning 2015, the theme for this year’s CASS/Alberta Education Conference, was recently attended by team members from Northern Gateway Public School’s Division Office. This occasion provided staff the opportunity to network with other jurisdictions while participating in education of their own to benefit students. Keynote addresses offered inspiration to build community activism and assess collective impact.  An understanding of the current status of the provincially legislated Education Act was shared: we are awaiting its proclamation.  

Smaller breakout sessions were attended by Division Office personnel, from which plans are being developed to ensure that students are the beneficiaries of the learning:

  • Professional development experiences are being planned for NGPS staff.
  • More on the the future of Dual Credit Programs and Community Engagement is expected: NGPS is currently exploring ways in which to engage students in practical experiences as part of their high school pathway.  
  • Regional Collaborative Service Delivery will continue to be refined to ensure NGPS students are receiving the supports in school that they need from outside agencies.  
  • The process of Curriculum Development Prototyping continues to inform promising practices for instruction and assessment.  
  • Innovative approaches to fostering success, not only for First Nations, Metis, and Inuit students but rather, for all students will be explored. 
  • Student voice will carry forward, being heard through advisory councils (see bit.ly/jsettakesflight)and other opportunities for thought expression, as it is these young people for whom we serve each and every day.

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