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Professional Organizations for Teachers
Judi Fenton

When I was in college my education professors encouraged me to join professional organizations. They communicated to me how important it is for a teacher to see herself as a professional who is part of a larger network of educators. I soon learned how helpful joining educational organizations could be when the journals began to arrive in my mailbox and long and fruitless trips to the library stacks were no longer necessary! (OK, so I'm old-it was before the Internet.)

When I started my career as a pre-kindergarten teacher in NYC, I became involved with the New York City affiliate of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (one of the organizations I had joined when I was still in college). I helped run their local conferences at first, then eventually was elected to the Board and became the Co-President. Over time I also was on the board of the state affiliate and co-chaired the state conference. I learned a tremendous amount though working with NYC-AEYC, and made many professional contacts, as well as, friends. I learned how to be a better teacher and found support for difficulties I experienced. My association with Teachers Network has been similarly rewarding. When I encourage my education students and the new teachers I work with to join professional organizations, I always share my own story with them.

Listed below are some of my favorite education organizations with information lifted right off of their websites. These organizations offer wonderful books, journals, and classroom resources. They also have local and national conferences and events you might want to attend. You must go to their sites to learn more about what they have to offer you and to find membership information.

National Association for the Education of Young Children
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is the nation's largest and most influential organization of early childhood educators and others dedicated to improving the quality of programs for children from birth through third grade. Founded in 1926, NAEYC celebrated its 75th anniversary with over 100,000 members and a national network of nearly 450 local, state, and regional Affiliates. NAEYC Affiliate Groups work to improve professional practice and working conditions in early childhood education and to build public support for high quality early childhood programs. Membership is open to all who share a desire to serve and act on behalf of the needs and rights of young children.

International Reading Association
The International Reading Association is a professional membership organization dedicated to promoting high levels of literacy for all by improving the quality of reading instruction, disseminating research and information about reading, and encouraging the lifetime reading habit. Our members include classroom teachers, reading specialists, consultants, administrators, supervisors, university faculty, researchers, psychologists, librarians, media specialists, and parents. With members and affiliates in 99 countries, our network extends to more than 300,000 people worldwide. The International Reading Association serves its members with professional resources designed to further five goals: professional development, advocacy, partnerships, research, and global literacy development.

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development 
Founded in 1943, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) is an international, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that represents 160,000 educators from more than 135 countries and 66 affiliates. Our members span the entire profession of educators-superintendents, supervisors, principals, teachers, professors of education, and school board members.

As our name reflects, ASCD was initially envisioned to represent curriculum and supervision issues. Over the years, our focus has changed. We now address all aspects of effective teaching and learning-such as professional development, educational leadership, and capacity building.

ASCD offers broad, multiple perspectives-across all education professions-in reporting key policies and practices. Because we represent all educators, we are able to focus solely on professional practice within the context of "Is it good for the children?" rather than what is reflective of a specific educator role. In short, ASCD reflects the conscience and content of education.

Coalition of Essential Schools 
The Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) is a national network of schools, regional centers, and a national office, working to create schools where intellectual excitement animates every child's face, where teachers work together to get better at their craft, and where all children flourish, regardless of their gender, race, or class.

CES schools share a common set of beliefs about the purpose and practice of schooling, known as the CES Common Principles. Based on decades of research and practice, the principles call for the creation of:

  • Personalized instruction to address individual needs and interests

  • Small schools and classrooms, where teachers and students know each other well and work in an atmosphere of trust and high expectations

  • Multiple assessments based on performance of authentic tasks

  • Democratic and equitable school policies and practice

  • Close partnerships with the school's community

The Coalition sees school reform as an inescapably local phenomenon, the outcome of groups of people working together, building a shared vision and drawing on the community's strengths, history, and local flavor. The Common Principles are meant to guide the school in setting priorities and designing practice, as each school develops its own programs, suited to its particular students, faculty, and community. CES regional centers and CES National seek to support schools in this work.

National School Reform Faculty:
NSRF believes professional development for educators best takes place in learning communities and extended networks, using proven structures and practices. These learning communities, led by skilled facilitative leaders:

  • Focus on improving students' learning and success.

  • Build trust by engaging in significant work while providing a safe environment for taking risks.

  • Make their work public (e.g. "deprivatize" their work) by collaboratively examining work done by their students and by themselves (e.g. teaching practices, curriculum, school culture issues).

  • Give each other usable feedback.

  • Encourage diversity of thought, experience and perspective.

  • Draw on the expertise of those within the learning community, as well as on the expertise of "outside" resources.

  • Engage in reflective discourse based on the ideas contained in "texts" of various types.

  • Engage in reciprocal learning, within learning communities and in NSRF as a whole.

  • Develop and share leadership within the group.

  • Are facilitated by coaches. These coaches are responsive facilitators who have received high quality training and on-going support, and who have been selected from the immediate educational community or from the ranks of trusted outsiders.

  • Continuously challenge one another to adapt practice towards fostering educational and social equity.

  • Are accountable for continuous improvement toward helping every student to succeed in school.

  • Use, create and support structures that lead to the above outcomes.

 

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