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Growing Professionally

Posted by on in Professional Development
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rainy weather by kadeddy d5jbciy

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. 

There are several professional organizations for educators available.  I encourage educators to look at local organizations, content-based organizations, grade-level organizations, and national and international organizations. Three national organizations that I am a member of are ASCD, AMLE, and KDP.  I have included a short description taken from the home page of each organization, with links provided, as a resource. 

ASCD is "a global community of educators dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading.  Our innovative solutions empower educators to promote the success of each child" (www.ascd.org).

"The Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) is the leading international organization advancing the education of all students ages 10 to 15, helping them succeed as learners and make positive contributions to their communities and to the world. AMLE is committed to helping middle grades educators reach every student, grow professionally, and create great schools" (www.amle.org).

"Kappa Delta Pi (KDP), International Honor Society in Education, was founded in 1911 to foster excellence in education and promote fellowship among those dedicated to teaching.  Using a variety of programs, services, and resources, KDP supports and advances educators throughout the phases and levels of their teaching careers" (www.kdp.org). 

As my day has moved from morning to afternoon, the cold, cloudy start has transformed to a mild, sunny early afternoon. The reflection and excitement for the new school year is apparent in my mood as a now sunny day awaits me. As teachers start the new year, the level of support they feel can lift them from the dreary moments to the shining moments.  While there are several levels of support, hopefully, teachers can find an organization that can not only support them, but help them grow. 


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John Helgeson is a Secondary ELA Curriculum Specialist in the Northshore School District in Bothell, Washington. John has been in education for 18 years teaching middle school and junior high students English, Social Studies, and Drama. He has experience teaching in low-income settings, co-teaching with special education colleagues, and teaching pre-AP/IB honors classes. He has enjoyed teaching in Minnesota, Washington, and Japan. 

John has presented at several local and national conferences including WERA/OSPI Annual Conference, AMLE Annual Conference for Middle Level Educators, ASCD Annual Conference, and the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education Biennial Convocation. Topics have included using physical movement in the classroom; effective reading, vocabulary, and writing instruction strategies; flipping the ELA classroom; and exploring literature circles in a mixed-grade/mixed-ability setting. In addition to presenting these topics, John has written several articles on literacy instruction and physical movement in the classroom. John currently sits on the Executive Council for Kappa Delta Pi. 

In his free time, John enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, reading a good book, running and participating in triathlons. 

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Guest Sunday, 17 February 2019