I woke up today to cloudy, rainy weather. While this is not necessarily unusual in the Pacific Northwest, it isn't the norm during the Summer months. The cool, crisp morning forced me to realize that summer is coming to a close. Luckily, for me, the next school year doesn't officially start until after Labor Day, but I know some students in some states are already back in the classroom, and thousands are preparing for the journies that are awaiting them.
Regardless if students will be pounding on the door tomorrow, next week, or next month, a majority of teachers are constantly thinking of the new school year. For some, they will be entering the profession for the first time. For others, they will be embracing a new content area, grade level, school, or district position. And for others, they are inching toward retirement. Each teacher is vital to our educational system, and each teacher needs adequate support. It is easy to feel isolated. It is easy to feel restrained by a mindset or a building culture. It is also easy to seek new perspectives. And, it is easy to educate oneself on current topics and practices.
As the school year approaches, my renewal notices for professional memberships are appearing in my inbox and my mailbox. As teachers seek to meet the demands of schools, districts, states, they can feel mounted pressure and a level of discouragement can creep into their mindsets as they continue to move through their teaching careers. The level of support in the professional world for educators is something that teachers should be aware of and take advantage of. Educators can search for organizations via the internet, peruse educational pamphlets or newsletters in their school mailboxes, join edchats on Twitter, or talk to colleagues about resources to support their educational interests.
I have found value in joining professional organizations as a way to network, learn, communicate, and receive support from educational experts and colleagues. In my conversations with educators, only half are members of professional organizations, and the other half are consistently looking for ways to receive more education and more support. As the school year approaches, I challenge educators, or future educators, to find one educational organization to join. I also challenge educators to embrace the organization and interact with the resources of the organization. This may entail reading journal articles the organization publishes, participating in a webinar, engaging in a Twitter conversation, or joining a special interest group. I know educators often feel the pinch of time, but if they can take a few minutes each week, their professional learning will blossom, and the level of support they feel will grow exponentially.