New Teacher Advocate — Spring 2011
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Professionalism
Robin Robinson Kapavik

CONTENT CONNECTIONS:

The Importance of Joining a Professional Organization

Would you seek medical help from a doctor who did not read the latest medical news? Would you hire a computer technician who was not up with the latest innovations in technology, or even have your hair cut by someone who never updated styles?

Of course not! That is precisely why every preservice teacher should immediately join a professional organization. Membership in a professional organization such as Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education, is a key component to an educator’s success. Belonging and participating in the services and activities of a professional group provides networking opportunities at many levels, as well as access to various avenues for learning and Growth (see sidebar). Of course, as a member I am naturally biased toward Kappa Delta Pi and its interdisciplinary professional support for teachers at all levels via publications, such as New Teacher Advocate, KDP Record, and The Educational Forum, as well as its Web resources and professional development opportunities.

Through KDP resources, connections, and professional opportunities, including participation in the biennial Convocation and regional conferences, preservice teachers, early-career teachers, and veteran educators alike can gain teaching ideas and insights into the profession, seek inspiration or collaboration, and expand their professional expertise.

Just as vital to educators as the support and resources from KDP are the contentspecific resources and professional growth opportunities provided through membership and participation in professional organizations for specific content areas. Though both types of organizations offer similar venues for expertise And professional growth—journals, Web sites, conferences, and continued learning—the latter focus on content-areas, providing a rich resource for creative and innovative lessons and activities.

Last, but hardly least, membership rates in these organizations are greatly discounted for students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. Therefore, prior to graduation, students should take full advantage of these rates and join or renew their memberships.

Journals

Each organization listed in the sidebar offers content-specific journals, with most offering both practitioner and research journals. Journals for practitioners contain lesson plans, activity ideas, teaching tips, and classroom advice focused on a particular content area. Research journals inform readers on current trends and studies specific to a certain field.

Web Sites

Every professional organization maintains a Web site offering volumes of information particular to their content areas. Their sites also provide annual conference information, regionally associated organizations, publications, content standards, and content resources. Additionally these sites advertise travel opportunities, professional development notifications and, most importantly, content-area teaching ideas. While certain areas and content offered on the sites are accessible to members only, many materials are public and even free.

Professional Development Opportunities

Each content-area organization hosts a national conference. By attending these conferences, preservice and practicing educators can network, preview content-specific materials, and learn creative teaching ideas. Participation in conferences requires, at minimum, a conference registration fee. If cost or timing prohibits attending a national conference, teachers can check for local conferences, usually offered through the state or regional extensions of the national organizations. When looking to attend a conference, teachers should check their schools for available professional development or conference funds. With tight budgets, it’s important to keep in mind that the strategies, innovative ideas, and renewed enthusiasm gained can be Shared upon return, something that many administrators welcome. Buoyed by their conference experiences, many teachers submit proposals to present at future conferences.

Deciding

Joining one content-area organization makes sense for secondary preservice teachers focused on one field. So do preservice elementary educators join many, given that elementary teachers cover all subject areas? That would take a lot of time and money! What is more realistic and beneficial is for preservice elementary teachers to join or renew membership to the organization representing the content for which they have the most passion. Once in the field, they can modify that choice to suit their position or to round out the professional affiliations and resources of the gradelevel team on which they serve. Choosing professional membership with this perspective in mind allows mutual sharing and support for all team-teachers, in addition to the overall benefits they have through KDP.

Bottom Line

How critical is it to belong to professional organizations? The bottom line is this: preservice teachers, who actively involve themselves in their professional and content-area organizations early in their careers, set the tone for lifelong participation in the field. Early and ongoing involvement not only keeps educators in tune with new research and content-area strategies, but also keeps them renewed and responsive—two qualities vital for members of the teaching profession.

CALL FOR MANUSCRIPTS

Fall 2011—Deadline: May 15, 2011.
Winter 2011—Deadline: August 15, 2011.

NTA publishes articles on topics pertinent and practical to teachers new to the classroom that will support them and enable their success. Suggested topics include inquiry learning, integrating technology, blending standards and creativity, seasonal subjects. Length 500–850 words.

Writers also may submit personal stories and “Aha!” moments from their teaching experiences. Length: 100–350 words.

Send manuscripts, letters, and ideas to karena@kdp.org. Visit NTA Online at www.kdp.org/publications/nta.

COPYRIGHT & PERMISSION

Copyrights on all print and electronic versions of New Teacher Advocate are held by Kappa Delta Pi, and all content is protected by U. S. copyright law.

One article in any issue of New Teacher Advocate may be reproduced up to 40 copies without permission if (1) duplication is for educational purposes at a nonprofit institution; (2) copies are made available without charge beyond reproduction costs; and (3) each copy fully cites authors and sources, including the sole publisher and copyright holder—Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education. Permission to reproduce more than one article or under conditions other than those specified must be obtained in writing from Permissions, Kappa Delta Pi, 3707 Woodview Trace, Indianapolis, IN 46268-1158 or pubs@kdp.org.

Content-Specific Professional Organizations

• ACEI (Association for Childhood Education International)
• CEC (Council for Exceptional Children)
• ETA (Educational Theatre Association)
• IRA (International Reading Association)
• NABE (National Association for Bilingual Education)
• NAEA (National Art Education Association)
• NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children)
• NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children)
• NAME (The National Association for Music Education)
• NASET (National Association of Special Education Teachers)
• NASPE (National Association for Sport and Physical Education)
• NCSS (National Council for the Social Studies)
• NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English)
• NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Math)
• NSTA (National Science Teachers Association)
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