Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Professional Development & Organizations

I love getting magazines in the mail. Although Pinterest may be curbing magazine cravings a bit, I still love thumbing through the pages of a magazine and reading whatever article catches my attention. This is particularly true for professional journals where I invariably find myself annotating the pages in a way that would make Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis proud. One of my favorite journals to do that with is Teaching Children Mathematics published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

A few years ago, I chose math as an area where I really wanted to improve my instruction, and this journal had a lot of practical suggestions and articles targeting elementary math teaching. It comes out monthly during the school year and takes a break during the summer. Even though I feel pretty confident about teaching 4th grade math these days, I still keep my NCTM membership active every year so I can continue to receive this publication.

Another huge benefit of my NCTM membership that I've experienced is that I've been able to volunteer as a materials and articles reviewer. With articles, I get emailed a few times a year with a request to read and give feedback on an article that someone has submitted for publication. It's a really interesting process to see pieces that are ultimately rejected or to work with an author through the revision process on an article that eventually gets published. I feel like being an articles reviewer has helped me improve as a writer, and it has definitely increased my understanding of what it takes to get an article published should I decide to submit something someday (and I will...). Being a materials reviewer is even cooler, though. For that, NCTM sends me books, games, or other classroom materials to read or try out. As long as I write a 250-word review of whatever item they send me, I get to keep it. I don't review materials more than once or twice a year, but all the stuff that I've received in that process has been great stuff that I can actually use in my classroom. For example, I've had fraction games and an entire series of books about the math process standards sent to me -- a set that would have cost me over $100 to purchase -- AND I've been published in their "Reviews and Views" section of the journal a few times. Talk about win-win!

I don't normally use my blog to plug other resources and such, but since I know my readers are people who a) teach, b) read teaching-related materials, and c) would probably be willing to trade 250 well-written words for free classroom stuff, I wanted to encourage you to consider joining NCTM during their current membership drive. I would say that it has probably been the most helpful major professional organization that I've joined (and I belong to many...), and their membership costs are pretty reasonable, IMHO.

If you do decide to join, would you please list me as your referring member? On the application, just mention that you were referred by Alison Eber, member #4165422. Your referral will enter me into a drawing and it may qualify me for additional discounts off NCTM resources, but I swear this isn't my great money-making scheme of the summer. :) You can read the specifics about the refer-a-friend perks here.

What are some of your favorite professional organizations and why? Feel free to share in the comments section!  

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