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Back to the Top Teaching Blog
April 28, 2016

Join Now: Why Teachers Need Professional Organizations

By Meghan Everette
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    Powerful teacher networks can be a way to make professional connections that not only support your career, but also enable powerful change, encourage growth, and ultimately make your classroom a better place. If you have read my previous posts on professional development, Twitter chats, and grant writing, it shouldn’t be any big surprise that I believe in the power of teacher networks.

    I will be honest with you: I feel very strongly about my professional associations. My bias here will shine through. What I hope also comes through is that there are networks for everyone! If you teach homeschool gifted children or high school PE, there are networks for you. I recently attended the annual ASCD conference and was struck again by how powerful and important it is for me to belong to an organization — any organization — with like-minded, dedicated educators.

    A friend and ASCD colleague, Eric Bernstein, said it best, “These conferences for us are not just social. They aren’t just academic. They are part of our identity. It’s this building of a network of people who understand your thought process and get you. It’s part of my identity as a teacher, as a person, as an academic. That’s something that spans across other [non-education] contexts and it’s so important to who we are as educators.”

    teacher identity quote

    Why Real Beats Virtual

    I love my colleagues that I connect with virtually, but my closest connections were made in person and continued online. Think of a student learning by reading or watching a video, versus completing a hands-on experiment and you know the difference. Being truly connected means not only paying the dues, but participating in meetings, going to conferences, writing and reading, and being an my pln personal and professionalactive community member. When you do those things, the connections become strong and meaningful.

    Maybe politics isn’t your thing, but chances are you have opinions on what is best for your classroom and students. One teacher voice can make a difference, but a network working together, backed with specialists who know how to craft messages and get meetings is infinitely easier. Belonging to an organization gives you the strength of the organization behind your message.

    Special opportunities abound when you are a member of a professional organization. For example, I’m an Emerging Leader class of 2014 with ASCD. This special distinction affords me writing opportunities, special discounts on conferences, invitations to events, and opportunities to present nationally on issues important to me. Most organizations have opportunities to be on boards, apply for grants, and special member groups.

    Networks

    You simply can’t do it all and while there are thousands of education organizations in existence, you should be selective in choosing what best fits your needs. Joining is great, but what can you reasonably fully participate in? What resources will really benefit you? I belong to the National Science Teacher’s Association and while I do not attend events, I have used the online science modules when needing supplementary materials. The vetted resources are worth the price of admission!

    Blogger Brian Smith notes that value can determine where he spends his money. “I have to choose which organizations I stay a member of. This usually comes down to how much the organization communicates with me and keeps me in the know of current research.”

    Danielle Brown, an Arizona kindergarten teacher and a regular contributor to the #TopTeaching twitter chat, stresses the importance ECET2 Danielle Brownof a network that fits for you. She says, “Empower yourself by joining professional networks that spark your interest, engage your skills, and connect you to others that support your professional growth. Vary your networks to have the greatest impact, from advocacy to instructional practice.“

    As I’ve become deeply involved with a few key organizations, I begin to find crossover. Brown is an example of my networks overlapping in meaningful ways. She is a Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellow with me, as well as a 2015 Emerging Leader in ASCD. Through ASCD, Brown met fellow blogger Smith. These connections not only make our network more powerful, they add to our reach and depth of experiences. Brown comments in a video from ECET2 about the importance of not being on an island when teaching.

    Powerful Connections

    Smith says it best: “The professional organizations and networks that I belong to keep me in the loop about the issues that I'm passionate about. By providing me with the latest news and research, I stay on the cutting edge of education which means that my students benefit from all the research out there that I would never have time to find on my own. I also love having a place to turn to when I have a question.”

    Brian Smith professional quote

    And I’ve found that both spicing up conferences with new groups while still maintaining a few annual events with the same organizations, allows me to grow my connections while building on the strong individual connections I have. Several colleagues-turned-personal friends and I are able to stay in touch virtually, discuss issues and ideas through Twitter and other mediums, but then value our in-person meetings at annual events.

    One of these personal and professional connections is Fred Ende, Assistant Director of Curriculum and Instructional Services in the PNWBOCES. He says, ”One of the best things we can do as professionals, and as people, is recognize the value in learning as much as possible from as many people as possible. The more people we build relationships with, the greater capacity we have to become more learned and more capable of helping others to learn. In addition, we thrive on being social. The more connections we have, the more 'alive' we really are.”

    learn from people ende quote

    So as we honor teachers this upcoming Teacher Appreciation Week and seek to become better educators and raise the profession as a whole, I believe with all my heart that we must connect in truly professional and organized ways. Friend and colleague Tamera Musiowsky-Borneman, who partners with my class from across the globe in Singapore, sums it up by saying, “A professional organization and network is worth the time and monetary investment because of the valuable connections made, and learning for personal and professional growth. I’m a firm believer in investing in your professional interests in order to become a better educator and person.”

     

    What professional organization has been key to your growth as an individual and an educator?

    If you are still looking for a group to join, post your interests below and fellow readers can help you make a match!

     

    Brian Smith blogger Brian and Danielle meet Danielle Brown organizations

    Eric Bernstein associations Tamera Musowsky associations Fred Ende associations

    Powerful teacher networks can be a way to make professional connections that not only support your career, but also enable powerful change, encourage growth, and ultimately make your classroom a better place. If you have read my previous posts on professional development, Twitter chats, and grant writing, it shouldn’t be any big surprise that I believe in the power of teacher networks.

    I will be honest with you: I feel very strongly about my professional associations. My bias here will shine through. What I hope also comes through is that there are networks for everyone! If you teach homeschool gifted children or high school PE, there are networks for you. I recently attended the annual ASCD conference and was struck again by how powerful and important it is for me to belong to an organization — any organization — with like-minded, dedicated educators.

    A friend and ASCD colleague, Eric Bernstein, said it best, “These conferences for us are not just social. They aren’t just academic. They are part of our identity. It’s this building of a network of people who understand your thought process and get you. It’s part of my identity as a teacher, as a person, as an academic. That’s something that spans across other [non-education] contexts and it’s so important to who we are as educators.”

    teacher identity quote

    Why Real Beats Virtual

    I love my colleagues that I connect with virtually, but my closest connections were made in person and continued online. Think of a student learning by reading or watching a video, versus completing a hands-on experiment and you know the difference. Being truly connected means not only paying the dues, but participating in meetings, going to conferences, writing and reading, and being an my pln personal and professionalactive community member. When you do those things, the connections become strong and meaningful.

    Maybe politics isn’t your thing, but chances are you have opinions on what is best for your classroom and students. One teacher voice can make a difference, but a network working together, backed with specialists who know how to craft messages and get meetings is infinitely easier. Belonging to an organization gives you the strength of the organization behind your message.

    Special opportunities abound when you are a member of a professional organization. For example, I’m an Emerging Leader class of 2014 with ASCD. This special distinction affords me writing opportunities, special discounts on conferences, invitations to events, and opportunities to present nationally on issues important to me. Most organizations have opportunities to be on boards, apply for grants, and special member groups.

    Networks

    You simply can’t do it all and while there are thousands of education organizations in existence, you should be selective in choosing what best fits your needs. Joining is great, but what can you reasonably fully participate in? What resources will really benefit you? I belong to the National Science Teacher’s Association and while I do not attend events, I have used the online science modules when needing supplementary materials. The vetted resources are worth the price of admission!

    Blogger Brian Smith notes that value can determine where he spends his money. “I have to choose which organizations I stay a member of. This usually comes down to how much the organization communicates with me and keeps me in the know of current research.”

    Danielle Brown, an Arizona kindergarten teacher and a regular contributor to the #TopTeaching twitter chat, stresses the importance ECET2 Danielle Brownof a network that fits for you. She says, “Empower yourself by joining professional networks that spark your interest, engage your skills, and connect you to others that support your professional growth. Vary your networks to have the greatest impact, from advocacy to instructional practice.“

    As I’ve become deeply involved with a few key organizations, I begin to find crossover. Brown is an example of my networks overlapping in meaningful ways. She is a Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellow with me, as well as a 2015 Emerging Leader in ASCD. Through ASCD, Brown met fellow blogger Smith. These connections not only make our network more powerful, they add to our reach and depth of experiences. Brown comments in a video from ECET2 about the importance of not being on an island when teaching.

    Powerful Connections

    Smith says it best: “The professional organizations and networks that I belong to keep me in the loop about the issues that I'm passionate about. By providing me with the latest news and research, I stay on the cutting edge of education which means that my students benefit from all the research out there that I would never have time to find on my own. I also love having a place to turn to when I have a question.”

    Brian Smith professional quote

    And I’ve found that both spicing up conferences with new groups while still maintaining a few annual events with the same organizations, allows me to grow my connections while building on the strong individual connections I have. Several colleagues-turned-personal friends and I are able to stay in touch virtually, discuss issues and ideas through Twitter and other mediums, but then value our in-person meetings at annual events.

    One of these personal and professional connections is Fred Ende, Assistant Director of Curriculum and Instructional Services in the PNWBOCES. He says, ”One of the best things we can do as professionals, and as people, is recognize the value in learning as much as possible from as many people as possible. The more people we build relationships with, the greater capacity we have to become more learned and more capable of helping others to learn. In addition, we thrive on being social. The more connections we have, the more 'alive' we really are.”

    learn from people ende quote

    So as we honor teachers this upcoming Teacher Appreciation Week and seek to become better educators and raise the profession as a whole, I believe with all my heart that we must connect in truly professional and organized ways. Friend and colleague Tamera Musiowsky-Borneman, who partners with my class from across the globe in Singapore, sums it up by saying, “A professional organization and network is worth the time and monetary investment because of the valuable connections made, and learning for personal and professional growth. I’m a firm believer in investing in your professional interests in order to become a better educator and person.”

     

    What professional organization has been key to your growth as an individual and an educator?

    If you are still looking for a group to join, post your interests below and fellow readers can help you make a match!

     

    Brian Smith blogger Brian and Danielle meet Danielle Brown organizations

    Eric Bernstein associations Tamera Musowsky associations Fred Ende associations

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