I remember checking the Internet and asking more experienced colleagues of mine about whether becoming a member of a teacher association has any benefits or not. All of them told me that it only has benefits and that it will help me evolve as a teacher and understand from a more practical point of view what being a teacher really means.
Reluctantly at first I went to the next event that Tesol organised. The people who worked for the association were volunteers and I was informed that it is a non- profit association. I paid my yearly fee and I went into the room to attend the event and it was just amazing! At university I was learning so many wonderful theories, so many methodologies and read current research but the climate in this seminar was different.
Suddenly, I had in front of me teachers who were practising the things I was reading and were reporting the results of their personal experience. An invaluable account since these teachers were working in my country and had to deal with the specific difficulties that their students exhibited and proposed practical solution on how to help your students. From that moment on I never regretted my decision! Being a member of a teacher association for me only has benefits.
First of all, it offers continuous professional development. After somebody completes their studies, they want to continue learning and becoming better and this is exactly what belonging to an association has to offer. Attending the various seminars pushes you to keep evolving, learning, studying and becoming a better professional. Secondly, it offers invaluable opportunities for networking. You meet like- minded people and you can share your experiences or problems or even ideas. The saying "sharing is caring" in an association acquires a practical nature. You find teachers who share ideas or lesson plans and most importantly you find support, something which is so much needed in our profession. Furthermore, you meet teachers who work in many different areas of ELT and in different places on the planet and exchange views but also create professional acquaintances or partnerships.
In addition to these, you are given the chance to be heard. You can do your own presentation or workshop. You can write articles and have them published in the association's bulletin. Your ideas are shared and maybe a successful teaching practice you came up with will help somebody else in a problematic situation they have to deal with in their teaching practice.
To sum up, belonging to a teacher association is a unique way to develop and become a better, more up- to- date professional, who will have a broader understanding of the current teaching practices and methodologies and a deeper knowledge of who our students are. That is why after almost 10 years of being a simple member of our local association I decided to run for the board and be elected, gaining even more experience and meeting really wonderful people from all over the world. So I urge all of you to become members at your local association and experience the wonderful benefits of that!