Next to an education and passing your teacher certification exams including the Praxis I, one of the most important steps you can take to ensure you are the best teacher you can be, is to join professional teacher organizations. There are a number of teacher organizations that you can join including the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
Some organizations are more specific and geared towards teachers in the field of technology like International Technology Education Association (ITEA). There are organizations for teachers of children with special needs like the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and organizations that focus only on specific subjects like National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).
Benefits of having a membership in one or more of these organizations include having access to current trends in teaching and specific subject areas, teaching tips, professional affiliation, and possibly job opportunities or recommendations. Some organizations offer discounts on teaching supplies or advanced training to help make your teaching career as successful as possible.
Belonging to a professional organization demonstrates to others your dedication to your job. It tells others that you are serious about helping children by taking steps outside the classroom to better yourself professionally.
Many organizations are free to join, but some require an annual membership fee. Some schools will pay for their teachers’ membership fees to certain organizations because they realize the importance of belonging to certain professional groups.
Research different organizations online or call their customer service representatives to understand which group might be best for you to be a part of. Remember that you, as a new and eager teacher, have a lot to offer these organizations a member. Talk to schools in your area to see if any membership fees are covered.
Don’t forget one very important organization you will also want to research: your county’s or district’s teachers’ union. Membership in these groups can often prove valuable throughout your teaching career.