Friday, July 29, 2011

professional organizations: special education

Those of you special education teachers will want to take a look at the National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET) website and consider joining. This organization is dedicated to supporting teachers working in the field of special education. Much of the content on the website is limited to members, so joining is important for this organization. Members of NASET get some great benefits, including professional development courses, journals, newsletters, reports, handouts, and strategies. For those of you looking for jobs, they do have a career center with current job postings.

Non-members can check out the Week in Review, which lists current legislative issues, links to articles about special education or education in general. The latest issue has links to an article discussing ways iPads are helping workers with disabilities, an article about student mental health, and a study linking prenatal antidepressants to autism. Interesting stuff! Because I'm not a member, I can't evaluate the materials for members only, but I'm intrigued by the great lists of resources they offer to their members. Definitely worth checking out.

Next post: music teacher organizations

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

professional organizations: foreign language teacher organizations

Teachers of foreign languages have both a state-level and national-level organizations to consider. The state organization is MCTLC, the Minnesota Council on the Teaching of Languages and Cultures. MCTLC has a conference each fall, this year in October.  One of the really cool things about this organization is the Forum: a place for questions, comments, and ideas related to each of the MN Foreign Language Standard Strands, plus a general forum for other questions and discussions. What a great way to keep up on what others are doing! Also, check out the Events page to see what kinds of opportunities within the organization are available to you.  Job seekers: the organization posts state-wide job listings, so check back often! Benefits of membership include a subscription to the newsletter and magazine, reduced rates to conferences and workshops, eligibility for awards, scholarships, and grants, email communication with announcements, initiatives, and events, and lots of networking opportunities.

MCTLC is a member organization of ACTFL, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. ACTFL, like many of the professional teaching organizations, publishes several journals to help teachers stay current on issues related to their discipline. Though most of their professional development workshops occur on-site (the organization is located in Alexandria, VA), there are some amazing opportunities if you can travel.  The annual convention will be in Denver in November, and looks like a pretty great program. ACTFL also is very active in advocating in support of foreign language education, and information can be found at the Advocacy page.

Another regional level organization to consider is the Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Language, and an additional national organization is JNCL-NCLIS, the Joint National Committee for Languages & The National Council for Languages and International Studies.

Next post: special education

Are you starting to think about joining an organization?
If so, which one and why?

Friday, July 22, 2011

professional organizations: physical education and health

Physical education and health teachers have a lot of options in looking at professional organizations to support their teaching. In Minnesota, the primary organization is the Minnesota Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. MNAHPERD is dedicated to effective instruction to improve the skills, knowledge, health, and well-being of Minnesota students. MNAHPERD has an annual conference, this year being held in October in Minneapolis. MNAHPERD offers grants and scholarships for members at schools in need of financial assistance in program development or securing equipment. One of the greatest resources on the site is a great list of journal articles supporting physical education. Check it out!

At the national level, there is the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, or AAHPERD, the national organization of which MNAHPERD is an affiliate. AAHPERD is supported by lots of affiliated organizations, like:
AAHPERD holds an annual convention, as well as conferences and workshops on a variety of topics. The organization also funds several annual awards and scholarships.  Physical education teachers currently looking for employment can check out the Careers page for more info on job postings. AAHPERD publishes a bunch of journals, each with a slightly different focus.  For those of you interested in research, AAHPERD has a research consortium dedicated to advancing research in the area of physical education.

Also available are several additional organizations; all these organizations are all related to the parent organization AAHPERD: the National Association for Sport and Physical Education,  the American Association for Health Education, the American Association for Physical Activity and Recreation, the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport and the National Dance Association.

Next post: foreign language teacher organizations

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

professional organizations: social studies organizations

For social studies teachers, there are two primary professional organizations, one national orgnization and one state level organization.

The national organization for social studies teachers is the National Council for the Social Studies, NCSS. NCSS sponsors an annual conference every year, as well as a range of summer professional development workshops. NCSS has a great collection of classroom lessons, activities, and articles, found at the NCSS Teachers' Library. NCSS publishes several journals dedicated to social studies education, including Social Studies and the Young Learner for elementary teachers, Middle Level Learning for middle school teachers, and Social Education for high school teachers. NCSS also publishes lists of notable social studies trade books for children each year, highlighting the best social studies books for students K-8. Members receive a subscription to one of the journals, as well as the newsletter, published 8 times a year. This only scratches the surface of what the organization offers - take a look!

The state level organization is the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies, MCSS. MCSS, the local chapter of NCSS.  One of the highlights of this organization are their workshops and professional development opportunities. Coming up next week is an NCSS-sponsored workshop, "Strengthening Your Social Studies Instruction" being held here in Minnesota. 

There are a couple other organizations to consider: the National Council for Geographic Education, for those of you who might teach geography, and the National Council for History Education, for those that focus on history courses. There is also a newer, smaller organization for civics teachers, the National Alliance for Civic Education.

Next post: physical education teacher organizations

Friday, July 15, 2011

professional organizations: science organizations

As with math and literacy, there are several professional organizations dedicated to fostering excellent P-12 science teaching.

I'll start with the statewide organization: MnSTA, or the Minnesota Science Teachers Association.  This organization is designed to help teachers stay on the cutting edge of science education, to network with other science teachers, and provide professional development opportunities.  It offers an events calendar, with upcoming workshops and conferences.  As a member, you'll have access to the newsletter, as well as information from past conferences. For anyone, there is a resources page, with links to science websites, legislative information, and assessment updates. MnSTA also has an annual conference in the spring, a great professional development and networking opportunity.

At the national level, there is NSTA, the National Science Teachers Association, of which MsSTA is a local chapter. This is an incredible site with a wealth of information for science teachers. Check out the elementary, middle school, and high school specific resource sites for articles, blogs, websites, and lesson ideas. As a literacy person, I particularly like the "Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12" site. Members have access to an amazing amount of professional development resources, including webinars, articles, and networking opportunities. Journals published by NSTA include Science & Children for elemetary science teachers, Science Scope for middle school science teachers, and The Science Teacher for high school level teachers. Like other discipline-specific teaching organizations, NSTA publishes position statements supporting excellent science teaching. Lots of great information, resources, and opportunities at the NSTA site!

For middle and high school specialists, there are a few more organizations to consider, including NESTA, (the National Earth Science Teachers Association), NABT (the National Association of Biology Teachers), or AAPT (the American Association of Physics Teachers). Each of these organizations offer members similar resources to NSTA, and might be worth considering if you are an earth science, biology, or physics teacher.

Next post: Social studies organizations

What did teachers do before the internet gave them access to all these incredible resources???

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

professional organizations: math organizations

Math teachers have several professional organizations to consider joining, both at the national level and the state level.

The primary national organization for math teachers is the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, or NCTM.  NCTM is an organization supporting "teachers to ensure equitable mathematics learning of the highest quality for all students through vision, leadership, professional development and research." NCTM has resources specifically for elementary, middle school, high school, and even college math teachers. NCTM offers e-workshops and seminars for professional development, has numerous journals devoted to issues related to math teaching at different grade levels, and offers information on advocacy around math-related policy issues. One of the resources there now that I really like is the "Evaluating Math Games" resource page, designed to help you determine whether a math game will be effective in meeting your educational goals for your students. NCTM offers regional conferences and expositions every year, great opportunities for professional development and networking.

At the state level, Minnesota has the Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics, MCTM. MCTM offers lots of similar information, but is more tailored to state-level math teaching and standards.  There are fall and spring conferences, resources for teaching, and regular newletters - MathBits. One really great opportunity for new teachers is MCTM Connect - MCTM's commitment to new teachers of math. Check out the page to see all the options for new teachers - everything from a Ning site, to signing up with a math teaching mentor, to networking at the fall conference. What a great opportunity to connect with other new and experienced math teachers!

Two other math organizations to consider are the Association for Women in Mathematics (specifically devoted to encourage women and girls to study math and pursue math-related careers), and the Mathematical Association of America (more focused on high school and college-level math teachers).

Next post: science organizations

Would you consider going to a discipline-specific organization conference?
What would you hope to gain from that experience?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

professional organizations: literacy organizations

Throughout the year, I'll have plenty to write about literacy resources, teaching ideas, research and such, since that is my area of specialty.  But I want to start with the professional organizations that you might start looking into to join. There are both national and local organizations that are great groups to join.

Let's look at reading focused organizations first. At the national level, there is the International Reading Association or IRA.  I've been to their convention several times, and it is crazy and super fun. There are often close to 15,000 reading teachers from all over the country in attendance, all looking to hear fabulous research, teaching strategies, meet authors, and network. The organization itself has several top journals published regularly with research about effective reading instruction. My favorite when I was teaching was The Reading Teacher, which I always found helpful.  Many of the articles are written by teachers themselves about their own teaching triumphs and pitfalls, and I really enjoyed this resource. I really like Reading Research Quarterly and Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy too, and read them regularly.  IRA also regularly publishes reports and position statements around literacy issues of interest to reading teachers, students, and researchers. I also really like their Choices Reading Lists, lists compiled of Children's, Teachers', and Young Adults' favorite book choices of the year. They also have a Career Center, posting literacy positions around the country. Many of these positions will require an additional reading teaching license, but something to keep in mind and check out.

At the local level, we have the Minnesota Reading Association, MRA, which is the local chapter of the International Reading Association.  MRA has several councils, both geographical and interest-based.  MRA sponsors an annual conference, which is coming up on August 11, this year with keynote speakers Kylene Beers, Bob Probst, and Jim Burke, as well as breakout sessions with local teachers and reading specialists, and local author panels and book signing. Throughout the year, MRA sponsors state-wide and local events; for example, this fall, a symposium is planned to unpack the new MN LA standards, paying particular attention to the new media and critical literacy standards and those devoted to MN American Indian texts.  It's a great local organization (and in full disclosure, I am currently secretary of the organization).

For more writing-focused organizations, the big national one is NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English), charged with the mission of improving English and language arts at all levels of education.  NCTE has resources for elementary, middle level, secondary, and college level teachers.  NCTE also has position statements on key literacy issues, everything from class size and asessment to diversity and intellectual freedom. NCTE has a great annual convention, this year being held in Chicago in November. NCTE publishes many high-quality journals. As a middle school teacher, I relied on Voices from the Middle for ongoing professional development, and I loved reading the submissions from middle school writers. I also regularly read Language Arts, as well as several other NCTE publications.  NCTE also has lots of advocacy resources available, and helps sponsor Literacy Education Advocacy Day in Washington DC each year. And there are some great student writing contests sponsored by NCTE for young writers.

Locally, there's the Minnesota chapter of NCTE, which is the Minnesota Council of Teachers of English or MCTE.  MCTE publishes the Minnesota English Journal yearly, which you can access online, even as a nonmember. MCTE also offers a fall workshop, this year being led by Deborah Appleman, a fantastic local professor and teacher of English. The workshop site also contains info from past workshops, including handouts and activities. They also regularly sponsor a spring conference. 

These organizations are wonderful resources for teachers learning about literacy development and instruction. Take a peek to see all they have to offer!

Next post: math organizations

What do you want to know more about literacy instruction and development?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

professional organizations: NEA and EM

One thing you will have to consider when you get your first job is whether or not to join the teacher's union. I'll talk more about this closer to the school year, but this summer is a good time to start learning about Education Minnesota and the national affiliates the National Education Association and the America Federation of Teachers.

Each of these organizations provides a great deal of information and resources for teachers. First, each organization provides information about legislative issues and policies. When I am trying to learn about what is happening with education at the legislature, both locally and nationally, I turn to these organizations to get me started. The organizations will let you know their official positions on issues related to education, give prompts for communicating with legislators, and as a member, you have the option to have a weekly newsletter or RSS feeds emailed to keep you up on the current legislative issues.

In addition to keeping you in the loop on legislation, these organizations provide professional resources such as lesson plan ideas, information on the common core standards, classroom management suggestions, and articles about teaching.  All three organizations have separate tabs of information for new teachers. Check it out here: Ed MN, NEA, AFT.

Now is a great time to start learning about these important organizations.

Next post: Literacy organizations

What education issues are you most passionate about?
How will you stay in the loop on these issues as a teacher?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

professional organizations: why join?

The next few posts will be dedicated to an overview of some of the professional organizations you can consider joining.  Some of the organizations I'll highlight here are more general education groups, and some are more discipline-specific.  Today, though, I'm going to focus on why it might be important to join one or more professional organizations.

I am a member of several professional organizations, and have been since I first started teaching. Simply, I find that as a member of these organizations, I have access to excellent resources to help me be a better teacher. Membership in professional organizations offer support for teachers, in the form of lesson plan ideas, classroom management strategies, stories of triumphs and pitfalls. You can get access to recent research in your area of teaching, helping you better understand effective teaching practice.

Most organizations have newsletters or magazines that you can only access if you're a member. These can provide a wealth of information in the form of research, teaching ideas, resource reviews, and inspiration. It may seem impossible to consider reading professionally in your first year of teaching with so many new things to learn, but when you join a respected organizations within your area of teaching, it will be so worth the time you spend to learn more interesting and effective ways to teach.

Another great aspect of membership in professional organizations are the annual conferences. I have attended at least one conference most years I've been teaching. Sometimes I went to state-wide organization conferences, such as the Minnesota Reading Association or the Minnesota Middle School Association, and other times I went to national conferences such as the International Reading Association or ASCD. Not only can conferences offer great professional development, they also provide an excellent opportunity to network and have some fun.

Next post: NEA and EM

What professional organizations are you considering joining?