by Cynthia Jacquet, CO ASCD Board Member and Teacher, Eagleview Middle School
I've been thinking about the value of professional organizations lately - especially in terms of what value they can offer educators. Good teaching does not happen in isolation; professional organizations are an excellent way for both new and experienced teachers to collaborate, learn new strategies, share resources and expertise, and expand the impact they can have on the teaching profession.
As educators, we prioritize the learning and growth of our students yet, often, it’s a struggle to find the time, space and energy to focus on our own growth. This is why membership in a professional organization is so critical; professional organizations prioritize OUR learning and growth by providing ample opportunities for their members to reflect on their work, learn from experts in the field and network with their peers in meaningful ways.
Following are 5 compelling reasons to re-engage with the professional organizations you value:
Opportunities to collaborate and network - collaboration is an integral part of our professional development. It enables us to impact a wider circle beyond the classroom and opens new channels of communication by bringing educators together to problem solve, share ideas, and learn from each other. In a post-pandemic world, people are seeking this connection through networking and professional organizations can fill this need. Opportunities to network with colleagues, administrators, and education leaders allows you to expand your knowledge base and broaden your perspective. Connecting with other education professionals empowers you to learn from each other – you can get advice from colleagues, share lesson plans and strategies for engaging students, and so on
Keep current with innovative and creative contributions in education - professional organizations connect you with the latest voices in your field or on topics of importance to you – whether via newsletters, blogs, webinars or in-person events, they provide you with opportunities to keep current on the latest research-based instructional practices and the profession.
Opportunities for leadership experiences and demonstrated growth – The Colorado Educator Teacher Quality Standards, identify standards for quality teaching. The ability to demonstrate leadership in the school community and teaching profession and professional knowledge/ growth are notable elements of quality teaching – professional organizations support educators with nearly every aspect of quality teaching and growth.
Attend conferences - for new ideas, exposure to innovative technologies and practices, to teach others and to learn new strategies that you can implement in your classroom
Educator growth and professional development – professional organizations help you set goals for your professional growth and your students’ academic success. Education is an ever-changing field of new developments, resources and instructional strategies that challenges educators to remain life-long learners. This intentional and reflective process not only grows educators but ultimately the students in their classrooms.