It is important to belong to our professional organizations. We support the American Association of School Librarians and the American Library Association and we gain much through our membership: toolkits for advocacy, shared knowledge, networking, information on trends and topics important to our profession.
But how many of us belong to other professional educator organizations? Do we join subject area associations or other specialists groups? What about general teacher support organizations? And if we don’t join those professional groups, how do we gain the professional knowledge we need to support our colleagues and students?
In our positions, we work with teachers in all disciplines and must stay abreast of general trends in education. We may be most confident with the latest information in literacy and instructional technology, but how do we make ourselves aware of what is happening in mathematics education or in the visual arts or in social studies education? Many teacher librarians who have come from a content area backgrounds may maintain memberships in those subject area organizations. Access to that content-specific information can inform our work with our fellow teachers and students.
But when we don’t have the funds to join all the professional educator associations, we have to find other ways to connect.
- Reading professional journals from other educator associations – We can connect with our fellow middle grade educators, share trends in writing with English teachers, read about the engineering process with science teachers and talk about changes in nutrition with health teachers. We can purchase professional journals for our collections, read them and share them with colleagues.
- Joining content conversations – Many associations and individuals sponsor Twitter chats around specific topics. Twitter is a great tool for growing your professional community and knowledge. There are content-specific listservs that are good tools for conversations with colleagues as well; however, many listservs are membership-dependent.
- Attending and/or presenting at other educational conferences with colleagues – We can connect by sharing our collaborative knowledge at conferences. Highlighting work that we have done with other educators empowers still others to grow, to collaborate and to impact student achievement.
How are we making those professional knowledge connections in our schools, districts, and states?
Author: Deanna Harris
I have spent my career in education as a middle grades language arts teacher, a middle grades teacher librarian, and a coordinating teacher at the NC Department of Public Instruction. During my twenty-three years, I have focused on teaching and learning, student achievement, and teacher leadership. I have worked with beginning and veteran teachers through mentoring, internships, staff development, and professional learning teams.