New Teacher Advocate Spring 2011 : Page 3

and professional growth—journals, Web sites, con-ferences, and continued learning—the latter focus on content-areas, providing a rich resource for cre-ative 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 an-nual 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 of-fered 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 confer-ences, preservice and practicing educators can network, preview content-specific materials, and learn creative teaching ideas. Participation in conferences requires, at minimum, a confer-ence 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 confer-ence 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 adminis-trators welcome. Buoyed by their conference experi-ences, many teachers submit proposals to present at future conferences. 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) 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 elemen-tary teachers to join or renew membership to the orga-nization 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 grade-level team on which they serve. Choosing professional membership with this perspective in mind allows mu-tual sharing and support for all team-teachers, in addi-tion to the overall benefits they have through KDP. Bottom Line How critical is it to belong to professional organiza-tions? 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. New Teacher Advocate • Spring 2011 • 3

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