There are different associations for those in educational careers, and they provide teachers with many valuable benefits. Associations exist at the national and local level. Much of their funding is generated by membership dues. Members, however, usually find that the advantages the organizations provide are worth the fees. Many associations offer legal benefits to protect teachers from the cost of work-related lawsuits.
Some education associations operate as labor unions. An example of this at the national level is the National Education Association (NEA), which represents educators at public schools and universities, as well as those studying to become teachers and retired teachers. NEA advocates for educators and influences pay rates and working conditions on a political level. Each chapter has different priorities, and members may help raise money for scholarships or bargain new contracts. The NEA also conducts teacher workshops on different subjects to assist with professional development. With more than three million members, it is the largest education association and has offices throughout the United States. The NEA has a congressional charter and is considered a professional organization rather than a union in several states.
- Education associations at the state level often partner with national associations. For example, the Delaware State Education Association (DSEA) works closely with the NEA. Members of the DSEA are represented by the organization at school board meetings, and the association negotiates salaries, benefits, and contracts. The DSEA also provides legal counsel, financial benefits, and professional development workshops and seminars.
- Education associations provide more than union benefits. They allow educators to network and meet one another. Education associations also provide members with the opportunity to stay current on different educational theories and teaching strategies. Some education associations are based on location, but others are focused on the different interests and specializations that teachers have in common. This type of organization creates a community based on common interest and enhances professional development.
- The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), for example, devotes its resources to promote literacy through English and language education. The organization has existed since 1911 and has consistently worked to promote the interests of English teachers and literacy. Members of this education association have access to numerous resources. The NCTE provides a current list of career openings and informs members about possible grant opportunities. Members also have access to the NCTE magazine that keeps them up-to-date on the latest research. NCTE has many different professional development opportunities for its members, including online access to journals, development programs, webinars, meetings, and conventions.
- Another education association that unites members based on a common interest is the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA). The organization includes members who teach elementary education to university professors. Members believe that everyone needs technology education. The group publishes different journals and invites members to submit their work. Members are also encouraged to network and learn from each other; certain events also feature exhibits. ITEEA is an international organization that honors outstanding educators in the field, and classroom activities are available for teachers to use. On a political level, the organization works to raise awareness about the importance of technology education.
No matter the reason, educators can benefit from joining an education association. Whether looking for union benefits or seeking to network with like-minded professionals, there is an education association for everyone. In fact, it is very common for teachers to join more than one education association. For example, some join the NEA and the NCTE.
An essential part of professional development in an education career is staying current with the latest trends in research and education. Educators have several different resources of information they can rely on to keep them informed about the profession and new teaching strategies, including peers, professional associations, and education journals.
Continuing education for teachers requires more than attending classes and seminars; it demands constant attention to the education industry. Education journals provide regular updates on the latest theories and teaching techniques and are available for teachers of students with different educational abilities and age groups. Education journals can focus on educational theory and how to teach students information or they may be devoted to a particular academic subject or area of specialization. A number of education journals are available through education associations; others provide discounted rates to members of certain education associations; and some can now be found online, where teachers can access them from the comfort of their own homes at any time. The ability to easily access their publication archives is a benefit that many online journals have over traditional published journals.
The convenience of education journals makes them a useful tool for the busy educator to use in solitude. They are also, however, useful in community settings. Teachers are able to share the information they gather from articles with their peers, creating an opportunity for open dialogue between colleagues who are able to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different educational strategies in their classrooms. Education journals also promote networking by encouraging article submissions from readers as well as feedback on current articles.
Teachers interested in general education topics read the Journal of Teacher Education or a similar publication to enhance their basic understanding of educational strategies and teaching skills. This educational journal has periodic calls for papers and debates. It focuses on topics such as cognitive science, teacher education, accreditation, certification, professional ethics, leadership, and critical thinking. The Journal of Teacher Education has been used to promote the professional development of educators since the 1950s and has evolved to meet the needs of a 21st century audience with online access and podcasts.
The American Educational Research Journal is an example of a journal that is the product of an education association. The official journal of the American Educational Research Association, the American Educational Research Journal is one of the top-ranked education journals. First released in 1964, the periodical publishes studies and analyses related to education that may help educational processes advance. It publishes its articles within two areas of research: social and institutional analysis; and teaching, learning, and human development. The journal accepts research from a variety of disciplines and uses different types of research methods.
The Journal of Research in Science Teaching is an example of an education journal that was created to assist teachers who specialize in a particular subject. The journal was first published in 1963 and is the official periodical for the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST). It is one of the highest ranked science education journals, and it focuses on the needs of researchers as well as educators. Topics vary from methods for teaching science to different education policies. Content includes case studies, book reviews, research methods, and reader comments. Recently, the journal transitioned away from existing only as a physical publication, and many of its archives are now available online.