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?