Professional Organizations in Education
Professional organizations are a healthy source of information and curricular and instructional materials. They are a source of advice and networking with other educators through their conferences and interest groups – and they are sources for job openings! Here is a partial list, generated with both new and experienced educators in mind, along with their electronic addresses. In most cases, their membership fees are modest, especially considering the services and contacts they offer. Importantly, inside these organizations you can find heaps of ideas and information in all curriculum areas at all levels with little difficulty, just waiting for you.
IASCE – The International Association for the Study of Cooperation in Education. This organization is a true cooperative learning network. Members and a tiny staff coordinate their newsletter and conferences. Their conferences are scheduled over parts of the world where there are communities of educators studying cooperative learning, K-12 and in higher education. In 2013 the conference was in England, and in 2014 will be in Denmark, and so-on.
Membership services and distribution of the newsletter are managed by Joyce Lang at Syntiro, in Maine, USA
IRA –The International Reading Association focusses on literacy, K-12 and beyond. This is the venerable organization in this critical area. Its publications and concept papers are highly influential, and its conferences bring together the leading scholar/practioners from across the world.
Headquarters are in Newark, Delaware, USA
The National Council for the Social Studies – Another K-12 organization. Its journals, Social Education and Social Studies for the Young Learner are chock-full of ideas, sources of materials, and information about contemporary topics. Middle and High School teachers of any subject will find the ideas and materials useful. Think about using the study of maps and globes to teach algebra and the study of public utilities to teach chemistry, physics, and biology. For many years, NCSS has worked to improve the quality and range of tradebooks nd multimedia resources for students.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics – Here again a rich source of ideas, materials, and networking possibilities. The range is from Teaching Children Mathematics and The Arithmetic Teacher to ways of designing the most advanced high school courses.
National Science Teachers Association – As above. This organization serves K-12 teachers in all the sciences. The Science Teacher feeds ideas and sources of materials for all levels. NSTA’s list of best children’s books in science is an exceptionally fine resource not only for elementary teachers and students but for middle and high school students of modest reading ability. You will find heaps of information about science in books directed at young students–trust us on this.
BSCS — The Biological Curriculum Study provides curriculum development, extensive professional development opportunities, and excellent networking opportunities. This organization has had a major impact on research on science teaching and curriculum. Its high standards and models of teaching improved teaching and curriculum for decades before the CCSS were developed. In our view, BSCS is always ahead of the curve.
National Council of Teachers of English – a comprehansive organization that provides plenty of information on common practices for teaching the English Language Arts K-12 and beyond. Has the virtues of the other organizations, but tends to be “middle-of-the-road” on curriculum and instruction.
National Writing Project – A network of researchers and practitioners, for forty years this organization has been the leading force in promoting best practices in the teaching or writing. Some of the other organizations have large executive offices and extensive formal publications. This is more low-key but, in terms of influence on practice, equals that of most of its peers.
Learning Forward is the national organization on professional development. It has played a leading role in helping school districts develop better support for teachers. In recent years it has offered support directly to professional learning communities in schools.
ASCD – Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development – is a very large organization many of whose members are school district speaialists in curriculum and instruction. It offers a large range of supports in publications, videos, and, recently through distance courses, chiefly online ones.
The next two are devoted to the education of children from the earliest years.
Association for Childhood Education International
National Association for the Education of Young Children
Both offer the same types of support described for the preceding organizations, but both also are serious advocates for nursery and early childhood education and have position papers that strongly present their points of view.
Council for Exceptional Children – one of the prominent organizations in the field most refer to as “special education.” Offers the same types of support as the other organizations, but, due to the issues endemic to the definitions, identification and assessment tasks, and sorting out the types of education advocated by various groups, this organization has to take positions on many controversies. Currently it is heavily involved in policies and practices related to Response to Intervention (RTI) which you will want to learn about.
The National Association for Gifted Children staff and leaders support and develop policies and practices that encourage and respond to the diverse expressions of gifts and talents in children and youth from all cultures, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic groups. NAGC supports and engages in research and development, staff development, advocacy, communication, and collaboration with other organizations and agencies who strive to improve the quality of education for all students.
The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers are the massive organizations that represent the profession as a whole. Wherever you teach, as a student teacheror staff member, you can be sure that one or another or both will contact you locally.