Why Join A Professional Organization?

I get it. Money is tight, and getting release time to go to conference becomes more difficult every year. And anyway, isn’t everything I need available on the internet? If I need help with my teaching, can’t I just Google it?

As a teacher it is important that we stay connected with other teachers, advocates and stakeholders, accessing innovative resources and keeping abreast of changes, including those that are in the pipeline. Membership of a professional organization can help with all of the above and for Health teachers there are many organizations to consider, not just the obvious ones. You wouldn’t consider using a doctor or dentist who wasn’t a member of a professional body, so why should parents hand over their children to  a teacher who wasn’t professionally connected? In fact, Collin Brooks recently stated that joining a professional organization was just the first stage on our professional teaching journey.

SHAPE America: 

I’m a big fan, and feel like I have grown as a teacher since joining. Founded in 1885, SHAPE America is the nation’s largest membership organization of health and physical education professionals, and works with all 50 state affiliates to drive our profession forward. You want professional development? SHAPE America has you covered. Check out their workshops, exclusive members-only webinars, and engaging podcasts. The annual conference is an eye-opener, packed with distinguished keynote speakers and innovative educators from across the globe – you HAVE proposed to be at Nashville in March 2018 haven’t you? The journals are always a good read in addition to the vast library of PD resources , the Mentor Match program allows you to develop as a mentor, mentee or both, and Exchange allows you to connect and collaborate with teachers, anywhere, on topics of interest. #GetOnExchange With standards, guidelines, and advocates driving our profession forward…all for the price of a few coffees per month, there really isn’t a reason to not join SHAPE as they move towards empowering all children through effective health and physical education programs. #50MillionStrong

State AHPERD: – My state AHPERD (IAHPERD), founded in 1931, organizes an outstanding conference that is attended by over 3.5 thousand people over 2 days. Membership gives me the opportunity to present to my peers, has introduced me to a network of health teachers in my state, and recently given me the opportunity to serve as a board member. I know they have a great team of advocates, and are great at helping teachers fill out witness slips in opposition to regular attacks to our profession.

ASHA:– Another organization to consider is ASHA, who also hold a great annual conference, one at which I have enjoyed meeting health coordinators, key decision makers, and CDC experts. Their mission is to transform all schools into places where every student learns and thrives and who learn and achieve in safe and healthy environments nurtured by caring adults functioning within coordinated school and community support systems. They too offer webinars to members on a range of diverse health-related topics – from head lice to female genital mutilation. While I find their journal a little too weighty for my needs, I do recommend their blog and subscribing for their free newsletter. I’m also a big fan of their ‘Core Beliefs’ document.

Again, within my state, we have ISHA, who seek to drive coordinated school health programs in Illinois. They have a small conference that always receives positive praise and like IAHPERD they have a series of awards to highlight teachers and health education students.


Founded in 1950 to provide global leadership to the profession of health education and health promotion and to promote the health of all people by: stimulating research on the theory and practice of health education; supporting high quality performance standards for the practice of health education and health promotion; advocating policy and legislation affecting health education and health promotion; and developing and promoting standards for professional preparation of health education professionals. SOPHE is the only independent professional organization devoted exclusively to health education and health promotion across all settings. Membership details here. Their 68th conference is in Denver in March and abstracts submissions are due before August 15, 2016.

If you are looking to join an organization outside of the health realm because you want to better advocate for our subject or learn from great teachers outside of our content areas then here are a few to consider…

ASCD: – Learn. Teach. Lead. There’s a lot to like about ASCD and their list of resources is vast. My favorite, is a free one. Their podcast is among the best from the education genre.

#TeachStrong: – Check out this diverse and powerful coalition of 40 education organizations that have come together to call on the nation’s leaders to make modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the top education policy priority in 2016 and beyond. Find out more here.

NEA: – The National Education Association (NEA) is the nation’s largest professional employee organization Since 1857, NEA has crusaded for the rights of educators and children. Again, this is an organization with a wealth of resources to improve your teaching.

Learning Forward: – Learning Forward is the only professional association devoted exclusively to supporting those who work in educator professional development.
Members stay up to date on the latest knowledge and trends with cutting edge publications, exclusive learning opportunities and discounts, and expanded learning networks. Their next annual conference is in Vancouver.

Here are this week’s #slowchathealth questions:

Q1. What are the benefits of joining a professional organization? #slowchathealth

Q2. Take our poll – Of how many professional organizations are you a member? #slowchathealth

Q3. What stops you from joining professional organizations? #slowchathealth

Q4. Should professional organizations share conference notes with non-attendees? #slowchathealth

Q5. Give a shout out to your favorite professional organization! #slowchathealth


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