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AI and class sizes major focus of Calgary teachers' convention


Educators from across the city are gathering on Thursday to kick off the annual Calgary City Teachers' Convention.

The two-day event is the largest teachers’ convention in the province, bringing 11,000 delegates for 465 workshops and seminars.

One of the major topics this year is technology and how to use it best in the classroom.

The first major speaker is Anna Maria Tremonti. Her talk is titled Technology & Truth in this Information Age and examines how tech has influenced the collection, distribution, and access of information.

Another major talk is by science speaker Dan Riskin on artificial intelligence. He will tell teachers about the significant AI milestones and how teachers can take advantage of the programs.

“How can teachers use it in an ethical way? How can teachers use it in a way to sort of supplement or support student learning?” said Jason Schilling, president of the Alberta Teachers Association (ATA).

A recent survey by the ATA found only a third of teachers are embracing AI.

“They also have concerns about it, with AI increasing, you know, plagiarism, for example, creativity, originality, and all of those other factors are in there,” said Schilling.

On top of career development, the convention is also a chance for teachers to discuss ongoing issues.

The ATA says class sizes and the rising complexity of classrooms are top of mind for teachers right now.

It adds teachers do not have enough resources and support staff to keep up with the increasing needs of the classroom.

“Rising class sizes is a big issue, especially for areas such as Calgary. You're seeing a lot of growth and a lack of funding to support that growth within the system,” Schilling said.

“You're seeing classes grow there within those areas, also hearing from our members about how they don't have the supports that they need for their students in their classroom, especially those with special needs.”

With teachers busy at the conventions, students are off from school, meaning parents must find alternate child care solutions.

Teachers speak out on Alberta parental rights legislation

The recent parental rights policy proposed by the Alberta government has some Calgary teachers speaking out against the legislation which prohibits hormonal treatment, puberty blockers and gender affirming surgery for children 15 years and younger.

“You need to look at every individual situation, we have policies in place that the school boards need to follow and parents are partners in that," said Stephani Clements, Calgary Public Teachers' president Local 38.

“So when it comes down to those tricky situations, you come together and find out how to best support a student, we don’t out them, we don’t point them out in front of others to make them feel unsafe, that doesn't help anyone."

Clements went on to say that safe spaces are offered for all students and that the UCP is "making a mountain out of a molehill."

“We’re waiting to see what actually comes out in policy, but we’re advocating and inviting the rest of our teachers, students and parents to understand that parents do have rights,” she said.

“Parents have relationships with our teachers and the ability to email and know what’s happening in the classroom, it’s not a big secret, we don’t shut the door, our teachers are communicating with parents weekly.”

U of C Faculty of Law calls on UCP government to reverse parental rights legislation

An open letter penned by 36 members of the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta faculties of law calls on Alberta Premier Danielle Smith to reverse the course of her government’s parental rights legislation.

The five-page document details how legal experts believe Alberta’s transgender policies violate Charter-protected rights.

U of C law professor Jennifer Koshan says several discussions have been taking place between her colleagues in the faculty and this letter hopes to contribute to a broader legal analysis and its constitutionality.

“So our letter argues that the policies and restrictions embedded within them are unconstitutional, so we make an argument that, generally speaking, the policies cause harm towards trans youth, that they violate their right to gender expression,” Koshan said.

“They cause harm that impedes their ability to seek appropriate medical treatment in ways that violate the right to security of the person and autonomy under Section 7 of the charter, that by targeting trans youth, the policies are contrary to the equality rights guarantee of the Charter, and also Alberta human rights legislation.

Koshan adds that the overall policies in her legal opinion amount to cruel and unusual treatment

And also overall that the policies amount to cruel and unusual treatment. Now, a government whenever it is faced with

“We hope that the premier will listen to all of the voices who are speaking out against these policies to say, again, there's no evidentiary basis for why they are needed, they will do grave harm to trans children, and to other youth as well.”

Meanwhile, members of Alberta’s Opposition NDP are speaking out as well.

Kathleen Ganley, who is running to be the next Alberta NDP leader says the UCP have chosen to "place teachers right at the friction point between human rights and some concerns parents are having."

“This isn’t the first time the government was willing to let teachers suffer from misinformation and I think it’s really unfair,” said Ganley.

“The government ought to be responsible for governing. I do think there are parents who have valid concerns, but those concerns should be addressed with information. It’s already the case that if your child is going to be taught sexual health that the parent has to consent to, it’s not a new thing and so the UCP throwing it out there that it is a new thing puts teachers at this unnecessary friction point.” Top Stories

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