I never used to join things. I was so shy in school that if I had to give a book report, I’d play sick so I could miss school in hopes that my teacher might run out of time for my report. Amazingly today I’m the president of a small local professional organization for social studies educators.
San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies started out with maybe 5-6 people when I first found out that I was an automatic member because I had joined California Council for the Social Studies. A year or so later the small group asked if I wanted to be President. I was kind of embarrassed about it, but I really did want to be president. There weren’t going to be any elections because there weren’t any other active members. I secretly hoped that they wouldn’t rescind their offer. I’d never been President of anything before.
I am just ending my second year of being President, and it has been an amazing experience. The first year, we set some priorities about what we wanted to accomplish. The biggest two things were to have a fantastic banquet to honor teachers, and to start a website and facebook account. I invited all my friends to join FB. Then all the board members’s friends. One person joined who was wearing a colonial costume in his FB profile picture. I started writing to him, and eventually urged him to run for middle school teacher of the year – which he did. The next year he qualified as California Teacher of the Year, and he won that, too. At that banquet the President of National Council for the Social Studies approached him after his speech, and asked him to run for NCCS Teacher of the Year. I have no doubt that they won’t be able to resist him either. He is now the President Elect for our local council.
We decided not to limit the teachers that we chose to honor to just members – there wouldn’t have been enough teachers to honor! I called a professor friend of mine, and asked if I could visit her class of student history teachers. After making a brief presentation about SJVCSS, I handed them a survey – the old fashioned way. On it they nominated who they had liked as a high school, middle school, elementary school teacher or professor. From there we started recruiting these teachers to honor as Teachers of the Year. So we started drawing in wonderful teachers, then professors, and now administrators and asking them to become members of the Board and committees. Many did and we developed a strong council. Some of them didn’t, but remained friends.
What have we learned? How to write, stick to, and break by-laws, budget and spend the $10.00 per person membership dues, write collaboratively, conduct meetings using Robert’s Rules of Order without breaking the gavel, visit cool places together, plan events, and use technology. I started this website because I want to be able to work with the new website that AIHE is designing for us. So I learned how to design websites and publish things, and attract an audience.
Is joining an organization a type of professional development? You Bet! So if you want to add to your own value, join stuff. Give what you can of yourself, and you will reap benefits you can’t imagine.