"Sixteen Years of Teaching" by Gillian Bernard

I remember the very first time I understood the significance of this organization in my life.  It was the VERY first day of classes after being accepted into the Faculty of Education at the University of Lethbridge.  We had a rotation of "workshops" or "lectures" to attend.  One was from an ATA officer.  He discussed the Professional Code of Conduct with us, and our belief that teaching is a noble cause was certainly upheld through this conversation.

The interesting thing coming out of this time was not only how we should treat each other as professionals and colleagues, how we should behave during our practicum rounds, or how to relate to students - it also made clear that the ATA was an organization who would be there for us.  They would be there to uphold our rights; they would be there to discuss any concerns relating to this shiny new career path.  The feelings conveyed gave us a sense of safety - not that we'd thought of our personal safety being an issue in our shiny new (idealistic) career path.

On the other side of the coin, the facilitator made it clear that we had chosen a very "idealistic" career.  He let us know that "once a teacher, always a teacher" - not meaning the length of our careers, but the fact that we would be held to a higher standard 24/7.  The stories told during that seminar, emphasizing the importance and pervasiveness of this profession, have stuck with me throughout the years.  I still saw giggles and fun in this shiny new career path, and found that I simply couldn’t teach without being involved in the business of the Association – the two come hand in hand.