Alberta Teachers' Association logo in colour, all one line.


About Taking Flight

Two female teachers chatting at a table in front of a laptop.

About this website

The Association is pleased to provide its members with an online website developed to respond to the diverse needs of cooperating teachers, student teachers, school leaders, university facilitators and preservice teacher education preparation program partners.

Sometimes it takes a while for us to find ourselves. But when we do, that is all it takes for us to take flight.


The Alberta Teachers’ Association has played a vital role in the development of field experience programs since their inception in the early 1970s in postsecondary teacher preparation programs across Alberta. Field experiences create conditions that recognize and promote teaching as a reflective and collegial practice. The teaching profession along with teacher education preparation programs in Alberta’s universities share in the commitment to foster these opportunities.

  • To position the Alberta Teachers’ Association as a leading source of current information, resources and tools for all participants involved in field experiences across Alberta
  • To increase members’ understanding of the critical role the Association plays in establishing the values, beliefs, policies and legal aspects of a field experience program to support its members
  • To provide cooperating teachers with easily accessible information, tools and resources to better understand their roles and responsibilities and effectively support student teachers transitioning into professional roles
  • To provide student teachers with easily accessible information and resources to better understand their roles and responsibilities and help them transition into their professional careers with confidence
  • To provide school leaders with information and resources to assist them in their role as key players in helping their educational communities to welcome and support future teachers
  • To provide university faculty advisors with information and resources to better equip them in their supportive and collaborative roles in the field experience program

The Association’s Teacher Education and Curriculum Committee put forward a recommendation to develop a practical hands-on, online resource targeting the needs of cooperating teachers who are charged with the responsibility of assisting preservice teachers to transition into their professional roles. Cooperating teachers frequently request additional support and resource materials in specific areas to facilitate their work with student teachers in their various practica.

Furthermore, this website would be developed as an evolving, comprehensive and informative repository accessible by and beneficial to all participants working in the teacher education preparation and field experience programs.

Based on discussions held by the Joint Committee on Practicum (JCOP) on June 18, 2018, an initial framework was developed outlining guidelines and procedures to gather data for this resource. Focus groups were established using current Association area field experience committees. Through an ongoing consultative process, field members and educational partners were asked to share their time, expertise and experience to generate ideas and provide feedback to help develop this website.

Glossary of Terms

In this website, the Association uses the terms in bold below; however we have also included the most commonly used synonyms for these terms found within the research literature, in Alberta and abroad. These terms are used interchangeably within the website.

  • Cooperating teacher: mentor teacher, sponsor teacher, school advisor, supervising teachers, school leader, partner teacher
  • Student teacher: preservice teacher, novice, teacher candidates, prospective teachers, associate staff member
  • School leader: principal, assistant principal, associate principal, vice-principal, administrator or school jurisdiction leader
  • Faculty advisor: university advisor, university liaison and supervisor
Metaphors for Cooperating Teacher, Student Teacher, School Leader and University Faculty Advisor
Word cloud relating to being a cooperating teacher.
Word cloud relating to being a student teacher.
Word cloud relating to being a school leader.
Word cloud relating to being a university faculty advisor.

Induction is defined as a set of experiences that every teacher entering the profession will have that will continue to influence each teacher’s professional growth.

Induction should not be thought of a set of discreet components but as a philosophy about the role of the new teachers and the relationship that exists between novices, veteran teachers and school leaders.

Induction is a systemwide comprehensive training and support process that lasts for two to three years and then seamlessly becomes part of the professional development program of the district to keep new teachers teaching and improving.

Factors Impacting Student Teaching
Future Workplace Landscape for Prospective Teachers: Shifting Sands

There is little that remains constant as the workplace landscape for current future teachers is shifting, responding to complex and frequently ambiguous systemic changes worldwide: societal, geopolitical, technological advances, diversity, demographics. How are we responding within our post-secondary teacher preparation programs, within professional teacher organizations and within school communities?

“The job landscape is changing on a massive scale, and education systems are at pains to keep up…. The rise of experiential learning, and the increasing availability of technical upgrading courses and short term learning opportunities, and the innovative ideas being generated by diverse minds across the country are beginning to make room for new models of learning and working in Canada. The challenge is to stay ahead of the curve.” (p.23)

How do we prepare student teachers for this new reality?

Impact of AI on the Classroom

The following excerpts are reprinted with permission from the Globe and Mail (2019). Minor changes to the text have been made in accordance with ATA style.

“Artificial intelligence (AI) is deployed in virtually every area of university life, from admissions to the time when students choose courses to the way teachers organize and teach, to the guidance from teaching assistants to marks and grading.” (p 16)

“AI is doing exactly what is supposed to do—enhance and strengthen the work that students, teachers and administrators already do.” (p 17)

“AI is changing so quickly that the question is becoming not just where are the jobs in AI, but also how quickly can new types of AI be deployed for practical purposes” (p18)

[Preservice teachers] currently within university systems need to understand how to use AI within their teaching practice.

  • Demand for people with AI skills has outstripped supply. (p 18)
  • AI people need to work in teams with those who can anticipate how users will interact with machines that are getting smarter all the time… you need to know how to deploy an application and how to deal with change management.” (p 18)
  • Consider more professional development courses in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)

According to Krista Jones, the managing director of the Work and Learning Sector at Innovation Hub MaRS, [preservice] students making their way into the workforce need three critical skills: technical know-how for the area they are in, a passion for some element of the work, and a desire to continue learning as the industry develops.

University students including preservice teachers will also need to possess the following skills and personal qualities:

  • the ability to think about something in more than one way, think outside the box, adapt, think about things from unconventional perspectives;
  • high emotional intelligence, motivational drive, comfort with ambiguity;
  • transferability of skills: ability to seek information, make sense of it, know what to do, how to take action;
  • a drive to keep learning and adapting as the work force changes;
  • entrepreneurial skills (self-motivated, self- initiated); and
  • willingness to collaborate closely with others.

Stephen Harrington, a lead talent strategist at Deloitte, claims that “We’re going to need future leaders who know how to challenge traditional structures, decompose them, start to move towards teams of cross-functional experts who have a mission. This means that hiring strategies are going to be shifting from skills and experience to personal attributes.”

Brookfield Institute 2019

83 per cent of education providers said they think students are adequately prepared for the workforce, while only 44 per cent of youth and 34 per cent of employers felt the same way.

infographic detailing the future of work
Profile of Millennial Teachers

The following excerpts are reprinted with permission from Abrams (2018). Minor changes to the text have been made in accordance with ATA style.

Millennials born between 1980–2000
  • High achieving
  • Confident
  • Progressive educators
  • High-energy
  • Multi-taskers
  • Tech-savvy
  • Global-minded
  • Want to make a difference right from the beginning
  • Eager and ready for new learning and opportunities sooner than later
Bring to the classroom:
  • Enthusiasm
  • Readiness
  • Competence
  • Spirit of collaboration in the workplace
  • Accustomed to working in teams
  • Want support and structure
  • Want ‘meaningful’ employment: professional growth, socially conscious
  • Prefer collaborative, team-based space led by coaches who guide and partner with staff to achieve goals (vs command and control leaders overseeing employees)
Infographic on millennial teachers.
Historical Timeline

The following excerpts are reprinted from A Brief History of Public Education in Alberta (2002).

The Association has been involved in university teacher preparation programs for more than seven decades.

Timeline marker for 1910's with icon of a person marking a spot with a flag.
  • 1917 The Alberta Teachers’ Alliance is founded.
Timeline marker for 1920's with icon of a school building.
  • 1929 The University of Alberta establishes the School of Education.
Timeline marker for 1930's with icon of a hand holding a gavel.
  • 1935 Alberta passes the Teaching Profession Act.
  • 1939 A college of education is created at the University of Alberta.
Timeline marker for 1940's with icon of a university building.
  • 1942 The Faculty of Education is created at the University of Alberta.
  • “In 1945 Alberta became the first province to transfer all teacher preparation to a university. Teaching was being recognized as a learned profession. The founding of the Faculty of Education embodied the idea that elementary and secondary teachers should be prepared by the same institution…
    As WW II ended, University of Alberta’s Faculty of Education became responsible for all teacher preparation in the province. Alberta’s approach to teacher preparation set a high standard of excellence.” (p 36)
  • 1945 Normal schools are closed in Alberta.
Timeline marker for 1960's with icon of a university building.
  • 1966 The University of Calgary Faculty of Education opened its doors.
Timeline marker for 1970's with icon of a three people held inside two open hands.
  • “In 1972, most Alberta teachers possessed a degree. By 1977, Alberta teachers required a four year bachelor of education degree, which included an extended practicum, to obtain initial certification.” (p 56)
  • 1975 Practica/field experiences begin in colleges and at universities.
  • 1977 The University of Lethbridge Faculty of Education opened.

Archived letters dating back to 1975 identify the importance of field experiences for student teachers. This fact has not changed, although the field experiences programming has.