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School Union Representative Training Workshops

School Union Representative Training
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Advanced Advocacy for Staff Reps

(3–5 hours)

This workshop is a follow-up to Advocacy for Staff Reps. It focuses on the needs of the local and clauses from the collective agreement which are of concern to the local. The clauses address issues that a staff rep may have to deal with at the school level in an informal meeting with administration or a step one grievance meeting. Four scenarios are examined. One scenario reflects a clear case of a contract violation. Another demonstrates clause language which has some ambiguity about whether the union is in the right or the employer’s view is correct. A third scenario references clear language in the collective agreement but not the practice of the district or the district is attempting to change the practice. The fourth scenario isn’t about collective agreement language but the issue is huge for teachers in the school. The staff wants the staff rep to talk to administration about the problem.

All of the scenarios are dealt with through role plays. For those staff reps who would prefer not to role play, there are opportunities to act and observers and provide analysis of what they have seen and heard.

The skills, knowledge and attitudes that staff reps need in order to be successful in advocating for their colleagues are addressed in each role play. 

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Advocacy for Staff Reps 

(formerly called The Complete Staff Representative from A–Z)

(3–5 hours)

It focuses on the needs of the local and clauses from the collective agreement which are of concern to the local. The clauses address issues that a staff rep may have to deal with at the school level in an informal meeting with administration or a step one grievance meeting. Four scenarios are examined. One scenario reflects a clear case of a contract violation. Another demonstrates clause language which has some ambiguity about whether the union is in the right or the employer’s view is correct. A third scenario references clear language in the collective agreement but not the practice of the district or the district is attempting to change the practice. The fourth scenario isn’t about collective agreement language but the issue is huge for teachers in the school. The staff wants the staff rep to talk to administration about the problem.
All of the scenarios are dealt with through role plays. For those staff reps who would prefer not to role play, there are opportunities to act and observers and provide analysis of what they have seen and heard.

The skills, knowledge and attitudes that staff reps need in order to be successful in advocating for their colleagues are addressed in each role play. 

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Advocating for Public Education—A conversation between parents, teachers, and trustees

(3–5 hours)

This new workshop can be booked as a SURT is a PSI (Professional and Social Issues) workshop. The intent of this workshop is to bring together parents, teachers, and trustees together to invite a conversation about public education. The objective is to create a local understanding of public education in the 21st century.

The workshop asks participants to consider ways in which parents, teachers, and trustees can work together to achieve the conditions necessary for a vibrant public education system. 

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An In-depth Look at the Role of Joint Health and Safety Committees

(5 hours)

This workshop expands on Module 2 of the basic workshop. It looks at the duties and functions of the joint health and safety committee in the context of the four basic rights and of the general duties of employers, workers, and supervisors. Participants will discuss common difficulties committees face and will examine the effectiveness of their own committees. 

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BC Blanket Exercise: Exploring Historical Relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples 

(2–3 hours)

This experiential workshop will help participants understand how colonization of the land we now know as British Columbia and Canada has impacted the people who lived here long before settlers arrived. Through this exercise participants will explore the nation-to-nation relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada, how this relationship has been damaged over the years, and how we can work toward reconciliation.

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BCTF Code of Ethics: Understanding the Professional Relationship

(3 hours)

This workshop helps members understand professional behaviour as it relates to the BCTF Code of Ethics. It explores the meaning of the various clauses, the rationale and processes for enforcement of the code, and staff representatives’ role in promoting ethical conduct. Scenarios promote discussion on related work and the role of the BCTF Judicial Council.

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Capacity Building: Developing the School Leadership Team

(3–5 hours)

Developing the knowledge, skills, and union-mindedness of the school-based team of teacher leaders (staff representatives, PD representatives, SJ representatives, staff committee chairpersons, health and safety representatives) is an important way to build capacity in the local. This workshop looks at practical ways to use the power of the team to support and advocate for members, create positive relationships in schools, and promote teacher education agendas. (Please note: this workshop should only be booked when bringing union representatives from all the leadership areas together.)

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Changes in WCB: an Overview of Changes to WCB Legislation, Policies and Regulations

(2 hours)

This workshops examines the changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act, WCB Policies and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations in recent past.  The workshop looks at changes as a result of Bill 35, Bill 9, Bill 14, and Bullying and Harassment Policies. The changes impact teachers and other workers around areas such as prevention, investigation, enforcement and participation in processes.

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Contract Awareness: Know Your RESTORED Collective Agreement

(5 hours)
This revised workshop is designed to familiarize staff reps and the school union team with the restored collective agreement language following our Supreme Court of Canada win. The facilitator will guide participants through the local's restored language, then use case studies to show how the language will be applied at the school level. The role of the staff rep is discussed, showing the importance of the enforcement of the restored language plus any applicable remedies at the school level. This is a "hands-on" workshop so participants must bring copies of their collective agreement as well as copies of the local restored language.

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Creating a Culture of Professionalism

(3–5 hours)

This workshop explores the ways local and school teams can and do lead on professional issues, develop ideas and practices around professional cultures, and seek ways to enhance and support the autonomous professional practices of teachers.

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Deconstructing Myths

(3 hours)

In this workshop participants are submerged into the depths of the mistruths that have made up the belief systems of mainstream Canada for far too long. Participants will be challenged to dig deeper through research, which must include historical documentation and oral testimony as opposed to acceptance of archaic misinformation and hidden fabricated narratives. In a commitment to the continuation of the work that teachers started with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, BCTF invites all teachers to join in the effort to seek truth through the deconstruction of myths in curriculum.

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Drawing on Our Analytical Toolbox: Dealing with Difficult Issues

(3–5 hours)

Do your staff reps and local executive need help analyzing the issues that are plaguing your local and schools? If so, this workshop will help members break down the parts of the issue so they can develop a plan of action that will help resolve issues at the school or local level. This workshop has a 3 hour version where the process is introduced. The 5 hour version gives participants hands-on experience analyzing an issue.

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Education Change: The Big Picture

(5 hours)

This SURT workshop is intended for Staff Reps and Pro-D Chairs/Reps to attend together. This workshop provides reps with the “big picture” issues in education change including the importance of:

  • the school community and the values that are fundamental to public education.
  • the teacher’s professional voice, autonomy, and collective agreement rights related to education change.
  • resources, support, and working conditions necessary for the successful implementation of education change.
  • a thorough understanding of the many elements of the government’s education change plans, including revised curriculum.
  • member, local, and BCTF involvement, through appropriate processes, in any education change initiatives.

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Effective School Staff Committees

(3 hours)

Government has increased the voice of parents in schools, given greater power to administration, and limited teachers’ roles in decision-making. To maintain teacher influence and control over their professional lives, teachers require their own independent and democratic structure and processes in the worksite. This workshop offers practical advice on how to establish and maintain a school staff committee.

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Employment Equity for Aboriginal Teachers, Part 1

(3 hours)

This workshop helps participants understand the employment equity concept as it relates to all teachers. The workshop will address fears, myths, and realities of employment equity. It will explore the language used in the hiring process and help members become more familiar with the topic.

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Ergonomics

(3 hours)

British Columbia is one of only a few jurisdictions in the world that has comprehensive workplace ergonomics regulations. This workshop provides basic information about ergonomics and looks at the ergonomics requirements in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation. Participants will learn: how to identify ergonomic problems in their workplaces, some risk assessment techniques, and some effective control measures that can be implemented to reduce the risk to workers of musculoskeletal injuries.

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Government Intervention in the Lives of Teachers: From Then to Now

(3–5 hours)

This workshop is an overview of the last ten years of the struggle for schools, and a closer look at the issues resulting from Bill 22, The Education Improvement Act. The workshop will examine how all legislation will now affect the working and learning conditions in schools and change the rules for teacher bargaining. Participants will review new legislation/imposed conditions, provincial actions/legal challenges and plan for the local’s participation in the Strategic Plan and the Year of Action and its themes

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Incident Investigations and Reports

(3 hours)

The legal requirements of accident/incident investigations and reporting will be reviewed. Various types of incidents and causes of incidents will be discussed. Participants will discuss a case study in order to proceed through the stages of investigation—necessary facts, investigative tools, visiting the scene, interviewing, and evaluating. 

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Incident Reporting

(1.5 hours)

Dr. Jennifer Newman, a workplace psychologist, states that workplaces should have zero harm policies. Harm is preventable and unacceptable. All incidents must be reported and investigated to take steps to prevent further injuries or an exacerbation of injuries. The most important incidents to report are the near misses so that whatever caused the near miss is eliminated or controlled and does not cause a more serious accident or injury. This workshop will cover what should be reported, how to report, and what should come from reporting.

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Investigations and Discipline: Knowledge is Power

(5 hours)

The workshop focuses on investigations at the local level and moves to investigations and discipline at the Teacher Regulation Branch (TRB) level. Progressive discipline is discussed in the workshop. The school staff rep’s role in investigations is featured in this presentation.

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Is it a Grievance? Problem-solving at the School Level

(5 hours)

This workshop gives union representatives an understanding of the grievance procedure for solving disputes. Participants learn their role in grievance handling and enhance their skill in helping colleagues resolve problems at the school level. Participants must bring a copy of their collective agreement in order to examine issues of local or school concern.

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Joint Health and Safety Committees/Worker Representatives

(3 hours)

The provisions of the Workers Compensation Act will be reviewed. Scenarios and discussion of duties and responsibilities, including committee terms of reference, will be included. Participants will go over successful strategies for effective committees, including organization of meetings and reporting responsibilities. 

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Keeping the Public in Education: The Dangers of Privatization

(Used to be called Hidden Privatization)

(2–3 hours)

Participants will leave this workshop with a clear understanding of what privatization is, and how privatization has permeated public schools. The workshop offers strategies to build resistance to the privatization of public schools. 

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Legacy of Residential Schools

(3 hours)

This is a new workshop developed by the BCTF to raise awareness and understanding of the legacy of residential schools, including the effects and intergenerational impacts on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples. This workshop will:

  • provide a preview of resources available. 
  • provide demonstrations of activities used to teach at various grade levels. 
  • change attitudes and behaviours—hearts and minds. 
  • inspire the building of relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people based on mutual understanding, respect, and collective action to create a different future.

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Managing Conflict

(3–5 hours)

Conflict is inevitable in groups, but it does not need to cause division and animosity if it is managed effectively. This workshop gives participants an insight into their own conflict management styles, and gives some practice in effective conflict management and communication skills. The workshop also provides information about the mediation services available from the BCTF. This workshop is not conflict resolution, but conflict management, focusing on skills to ensure that conflicts do not escalate.

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Marking up the Wrong Tree? Conversations about teaching, assessment, and reporting

The revised curriculum is placing new assessment and evaluation demands on teachers. This workshop
will allow participants opportunities to make sure they are doing what is actually needed and useful for assessing student learning.

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Meetings, Motions, Minutes and More 

(3 hours)

This workshop will provide participants with the skills, understanding, and knowledge to organize, conduct, and participate more effectively in large and small meetings. Whether you are chairing, moving a motion, or struggling to understand what’s happening in the meeting, this workshop is for you. Everyone has a role in making meetings effective. The workshop will cover BCTF Simplified Rules of Order, agenda setting, writing motions, principles of participation, and strategies for employing these rules successfully.

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Mentorship: Building an Integrated Community of Practice 

(3–5 hours)

This workshop is intended for school union representative teams, as well as groups of teachers interested in developing effective mentorship programs in their locals. Participants will explore mentorship as a way to build a collaborative culture within schools, locals, and/or districts. Questions, such as why mentoring is valuable for the teaching profession and what elements important in mentorship programs, will be addressed. The workshop will discuss the different models of mentorship programs, and how a program can be developed to work within existing local and district structures. The workshop provides participants with a range of tools to use when developing their own mentorship programs and the five-hour workshop will give local teams time to begin the planning process.

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Negotiating your Enhancement Agreement

(3 hours)

An Enhancement Agreement is an agreement developed between all local Aboriginal communities, the local teacher association who represents the teacher voice, a school district and the Ministry of Education designed to enhance the educational achievement of Aboriginal students and more importantly to underscore the integral nature of Aboriginal culture and ways of knowing. This workshop will provide participants with an understanding of how these agreements are developed and the importance of teacher involvement in the process.

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New and Young Workers

(2 hours)

This workshop covers Occupational Health and Safety Regulation Part 3 which defines young and new workers and the requirement to provide orientation and training prior to beginning work. Checklists, scenarios, and a review of the role of the joint health and safety committee will be included.

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New Teachers  

(5 hours)

Modules may be selected from this workshop or the complete workshop can be presented.

This workshop may also be booked in conjunction with a New Teacher Induction ceremony. This new workshop introduces new members to the local union and the BCTF. It introduces new members to the collective agreement and highlights sections most relevant to new members. It explores the responsibilities and challenges of maintaining positive professional relations with students, parents and colleagues. It builds awareness about professional issues such as professional development and professional autonomy. It promotes the work of the union and encourages new members to participate in the union. The economic, social and democratic contributions that unions have made to Canadian society are included in this workshop. 

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Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Program

Length: 1.5 hours

School health and safety issues will be reviewed in the context of the workplace and necessary policies and procedures. The basic elements of an OH&S program are covered. Sample or actual school district policies and procedures will be reviewed. 

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Occupational Health & Safety Training for New Committee Members and Worker Reps

(8 hours)

This workshop is designed for new members of Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committees in their first six months on a committee.  Effective April 3, 2017, Worksafe BC regulations require all new members of committees and worker reps to receive 8 hours of instruction on prescribed health and safety topics (OHSR 3.27) . This workshop satisfies that requirement. The content of the workshop also serves as a good back-to-basics refresher for committee people, or as a SURT.  

Note: The training prescribed for new committee people is outside of the 8 hour education educational leave entitled under Part3, Division 4, Section 135 of the Workers’ Compensation Act.

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Preparation for Bargaining: The School Union Team

(3 hours)

This SURT aims to help school union reps (Staff rep, Pro-D rep, H & S rep, staff committee chairs) recognize that they have the capacity to work as a cohesive team; in other words, to work less in isolation in their capacity of supporting their colleagues. Strategies and activities are built into the SURT to help facilitate understanding, trust and communication among the school Union reps. A group approach with the school union team is more desirable at the school level. 

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Professional Boundary Issues: Teacher/Student Relationships

(3–5 hours)

Sometimes the standards of conduct between students and teachers are ambiguous. Teachers place themselves in jeopardy when boundaries are crossed. This workshop helps school staffs and TTOCs identify the boundaries and provides them with support and resources. Reference will be made to the BCTF Code of Ethics.

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Refusal of Unsafe Work

(1 hour)

The process of refusal of unsafe work will be covered in the school context. Scenarios and examples will be reviewed in order for participants to understand the kinds of circumstances under which refusal may occur. 

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Risk Assessment

(3 hours)

The primary focus of a health and safety program is the prevention of occupational injuries and disease. To be able to prevent something from happening, the hazard must first be identified and the risk of being injured or contracting a disease must be determined. Then prevention plans must be put into place to either eliminate or control the risk. This workshop will cover a thorough risk assessment of the school environment, work practices and human factors to develop prevention plans and inspection schedules based on the needs of the work place.

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Role and Function of the PD Rep: Keep your hands off my PD

(3 hours)

This updated workshop develops the skills and knowledge of the PD chairs as a union leader using the PD lens as a strategic tool. Strategies are explored for building member and public support for professional development, advocating for teacher-centered PD, and returning control of PD to teachers.

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Role and Function of the School Site Health and Safety Rep

(2 hours)

The School based health and safety rep is more than just another body around the Joint Occupational Health and Safety committee table. This workshop explores the role of the health and safety rep from the union activist perspective. The Health and safety rep is an advocate, an advisor, and an assistant. This workshop explains these roles and how they fit in the union role.

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Role and Function of the Social Justice Contact

(3–5 hours)

School-based social justice representatives working with the local’s Social Justice Committee can explore their roles and the functions they have within the school and local. They will have an opportunity to set out long- and short-term plans and explore how to work in coalition with others in their schools and community.

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Role and Function of the Staff Rep

(3–5 hours)

The school staff representative is the legal representative of BCTF members at the workplace. This workshop helps them, particularly those new to the role; understand their duties and responsibilities, their legal rights, and the resources available to support them.

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Safety Inspections

(3 hours)

This module reviews the pre-inspection, inspection, and post-inspection stages. School-related checklists and other materials are used. Participants will learn how to identify hazards during safety inspections. Pictures of school activities will be used as a basis of discussion. 

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School Construction/Renovation

(2 hours)

This workshop deals with health and safety issues that should be considered when construction or renovation work is being done. Topics include fire safety, emergency escape routes, indoor air quality, noise, fumes, electrical equipment, and mould removal. This workshop can also be modified for presentation to the staff at schools where construction or renovation is being planned.

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School Goal Setting

(2 hours)

This workshop is for school staffs or other intact groups, like school departments wanting to explore and establish their vision and goals for their work. Participants will identify, share, and develop action plans in a collegial and supportive atmosphere.

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Self-directed PD: The Autonomous Professional

(3 hours)

Participants become familiar with professional self-directed planning options that build and support teachers’ autonomy, professionalism, and collaboration. Participants will explore the differences between effective, teacher-directed PD, the "consumer model" of PD, and types of in-service, as well as some of the stumbling blocks to effective PD.

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Social Media

(5 hours)

The social media workshop is designed to educate teachers about the professional and ethical use of social media tools like Facebook and Twitter. The workshop reviews the wide-ranging landscape of social media through the lens of appropriate boundaries and professional conduct. Participants will learn about the value of engaging online as an educator, best practices, and appropriate privacy settings. This five-hour workshop goes beyond the three-hour social media workshop as it also helps staff reps and local associations support members who are using social media or considering it.

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Social Media

(3 hours)

The social media workshop is designed to educate teachers about the professional and ethical use of social media tools like Facebook and Twitter. The workshop reviews the wide-ranging landscape of social media through the lens of appropriate boundaries and professional conduct. Participants will learn about the value of engaging online as an activist and educator, best practices, and appropriate privacy settings.

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Staying Well at Teaching

(3–5 hours)

Teaching is complex. High public expectations, class composition, educational cutbacks, and increased accountability affect schools, teachers, and students. BCTF surveys identify increased workload and stress as significant concerns for teachers. This workshop helps teachers stay well. Setting boundaries around workload, self-care and smart choices, and de-stressing are key themes. All focus on building shared solutions to both the demands of the work and the isolation of teaching. Participants will reconnect with colleagues, laugh, and tell stories as they assess their work-life balance and explore staying well and creating a healthy workplace. Skilled teacher facilitators will design the session to suit the needs of each school staff. Retreat locations away from the school are recommended, where possible.

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Successfully Navigating the WCB Claims Process

In this workshop, participants will learn how to give WCB claims a greater chance of success.

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Teacher Inquiry Part 1: Teachers Collaborating in Self-directed Professional Learning

(3–5 hours)

Many teachers are ready to move to a deeper professional practice where they are in control of their professional development. Inquiry approaches have been fostered in the BCTF by the Program for Quality Teaching (PQT) and by inquiry projects supported by the Research and Technology (R & T) Department. This workshop will explore the ways in which teacher inquiry can be implemented in a local or school, the literature surrounding teacher inquiry, and how the BCTF, through its PQT and R & T projects, can help support teacher inquiry. This workshop will also assist groups in the first steps to get started with their inquiry.

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Teacher Inquiry: Getting Started in Your Local

(5 hours)

Are you interested in starting a teacher inquiry project in your local or school? Are you looking for professional development that will ensure individual teacher’s needs are being met? This five-hour workshop is intended for either Local PD Reps or School Staff Reps. The workshop will review the concepts of teacher inquiry and take participants through the process of getting started on a project in their school or local. The group will explore inquiry process and begin the hands-on planning for their own inquiry.

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The School-Based Team and the Restored Collective Agreement


With the Supreme Court of Canada win, and the restoration of the stripped collective agreement language, many locals are finding that their school-based teams can now operate with language that restores a great deal of influence and decision making. However, the restored language is unfamiliar to the majority of teachers who have become accustomed to working within the stripped language. This 4 hour workshop will discuss the importance of “unlearning” past school-based team practices and the ministry designations for students with special needs.  Participants will discuss the implications of the local’s restored language and develop guidelines to ensure the language is being followed.

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Violence in the Workplace

(3 hours)

Workplace violence is becoming a growing concern in the education sector. Every year dozens of workers in schools are victims of threats and violence in the performance of their jobs. This workshop explores the definition of violence, types of violence, and what is required to assess and plan to reduce and eliminate risks. The workshop discusses risk assessment, safety plans, privacy issues, and the right to know, all with a focus on keeping workers safe.

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Violence Prevention

(5 hours)

This workshop reviews the WCB section on violence protection. Emphasis is on completing a risk assessment and on processing reports of violence, up to and including a WCB claim. In addition, the workshop discusses the law on the release of a student’s history of violence in the context of a violence protection program.

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