The importance of investing in ourselves as teachers was one of the main messages from the NESA online professional development opportunity My Teaching Impact: Inspiring stories of teaching impact in the classroom and beyond (NESA 20/09/2018).
As described by the teachers on My Teaching Impact, being an effective teacher is about being aspirational for ourselves, as well as for our students. This requires constant learning, and always being willing to improve.
When we are starting out as teachers, it can be a challenge to even think about professional organisations, let alone having the time to explore what professional support is out there. And it is often still not clear if this teaching lark is actually going to be a career.
Membership of a professional association provides a bigger picture of what we do, and can help clarify our own commitment to teaching and investing in ourselves as teachers.
There are authoritative, prestigious and highly credible national and international organisations for all aspects of teaching. Membership provides ongoing access to current research, professional learning from academics and expert teachers, opportunities for conferences, seminars and workshops, as well as scholarships and study grants. They provide the continued updating of our professional libraries. Costs are reasonable and tax-deductible.
Professional learning and development through these organisations give insights into the philosophies, principles and ethos of the different professional networks, and can help form and guide our own direction as teachers and educators, and support us in further academic study.
I suggest you join one or two of the following, depending on your interests now.
English language and literacy
Each of these associations is well-established and has considerable authority in both the school-based and academic fields of literacy and English education. They play a major role in advocacy about literacy issues and the teaching of English at local, state and national levels, and are involved in major government policy issues. All offer opportunities for sharing teaching expertise and experiences.
- PETAA (Primary English Teaching Association of Australia) is one of the largest professional associations for primary teachers and educators in Australia. Membership includes four mailouts a year of books and discussion papers by experts in the field. It provides access to online units of work for the Children’s Book Council of Australia annual shortlisted books (https://cbca.org.au/), numerous online resources and projects, plus discounts on professional learning and conferences. PETAA has been providing excellent support to teachers since 1972 – they really know their stuff. http://www.petaa.edu.au/imis_Prod/w
- ALEA (Australian Literacy Educators’ Association) began as the Australian Reading Association. It is an independent association ‘dedicated to literacy and English language learning’ across all education contexts, in all curriculums. ALEA provides ‘support and professional development throughout a literacy educators’ career, from student and early career teacher to more experienced educator’ through a range of resources. There are local groups who run excellent professional learning. https://www.alea.edu.au/
- ILA (International Literacy Association) – originally established as the International Reading Association in 1956. It is an international professional organization with goals ‘to improve reading instruction, facilitate dialogue about research on reading, and encourage the habit of reading.’ Excellent source of international research. https://literacyworldwide.org/
- ATESOL NSW Inc. (Association for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is for people working in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and related areas. ATESOL NSW is a member of the Australian Council of TESOL Associations (ACTA). ACTA Website Their mission since 1976 has been ‘to advocate on behalf of and improve educational outcomes for learners of English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D), including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who speak traditional Indigenous languages, creoles and varieties of Aboriginal English.’ https://atesolnsw.bigcartel.com/
- ETA (English Teaching Association) – each state branch is a professional association of teachers of English. The ETA is committed to promoting rich learning experiences for teachers and students. It provides support, professional learning and advocacy. Geared towards secondary education. https://www.englishteacher.com.au/
- AATE (Australian Association for the Teaching of English) is a national professional association linked with English teaching associations in each state and territory. Its national voice advocates for teachers and the profession, and it produces teaching resources for all teachers of English. https://www.aate.org.au/
There are numerous online sites which provide ‘quick-fixes’. These often lack academic rigour and credibility. When choosing an organisation to join, beware the all-purpose, ‘This will make teaching easy’.
It isn’t, and they won’t. Tricks and worksheets will work for an instant, but will not provide the investment in ongoing support available from authoritative professional associations.
I suggest you join one or two, depending on your interests now.
PETAA would be first choice, for their range of resources, professional learning and expertise, and access to CBCA resources. ALEA has a national and a local presence, and professional learning is very accessible. If you have EAL/D students, ATESOL will be of great use. If you are interested in international research, the ILA is the one. For middle years and secondary English, the ETA provides great support.
We know teaching and learning is probably harder than rocket science. Invest your time and money in joining authentic associations and organisations that will build you as a teacher.
It will be worth it.
AATE – Australian Association for the Teaching of English
AITSL – Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership
ALEA – Australian Literacy Educators’ Association
ATESOL – Association for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
CBCA – Children’s Book Council of Australia
ETA – English Teaching Association
ILA – International Literacy Association
ESA – NSW Education Standards Authority (formerly the NSW Board of Studies and Teacher Education Standards)
PETAA – Primary English Teaching Association of Australia
References and Resources:
AATE (Australian Association for the Teaching of English) https://www.aate.org.au/ accessed 27/9/2018
AITSL (2014) Australian Professional Standards for Teachers https://www.aitsl.edu.au/teach/standards accessed 26/09/2018
ALEA https://www.alea.edu.au/ accessed 27/9/2018
ATESOL NSW Inc. Association for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages https://atesolnsw.bigcartel.com/ accessed b28/9/2018
Bahr, N., Pendergast, D. & Ferreira, J. (2018) Teachers are NOT under-qualified and NOT under-educated: here’s what is really happening in EduResearch Matters blog of the Australian Association for Research in Education September 24 2018 http://www.aare.edu.au/blog/?p=3197 accessed 24/09/2018
Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) https://cbca.org.au/ accessed 27/9/2018
ETA https://www.englishteacher.com.au/ accessed 27/9/2018
ILA https://literacyworldwide.org/ accessed 27/9/2018
NESA (2018) My Teaching Impact: Inspiring stories of teaching impact in the classroom and beyond, online at: http://educationstandards.nsw.edu.au/wps/portal/nesa/about/events/my-teaching-impact accessed 20/09/2018
PETAA http://www.petaa.edu.au/imis_Prod/w accessed 27/9/2018