Membership in NSTA comes with a wealth of benefits. Although the most obvious benefit may be the regular appearance of Science Scope and NSTA Reports in your mailbox, membership encompasses far more. The ability to connect through list serves, interact with other middle school science teachers via the Learning Center forums, serve on a variety of NSTA committees and advisory boards, and apply for prestigious awards are some examples of additional NSTA member benefits. There is, however, one hidden member benefit that we consider to be priceless; it is the ability to carve deep and lasting friendships through the personal connections afforded by involvement with NSTA.
As veteran middle school science teachers, we began our individual professional relationships with NSTA many years ago while serving on the Toyota Tapestry Grant Judging Panel. Although the panel no longer exists, the friendship that evolved through our common experience has stood the test of time and serves as an example of NSTA’s unique ability to connect science educators with each other. We have overcome the physical distance that separates us and have strengthened our friendship through presentations made at NSTA conferences, by teaching short courses together, and by recently authoring a book for NSTA Press.
NSTA offers numerous venues for personal and professional growth that will afford you the ability to connect with like-minded peers. We know from experience that attending a NSTA conference will leave you recharged as a result of your contact with other science educators. You can maintain that conference energy through activity in one or more of NSTA’s social media platforms, which include Twitter, Facebook, and the middle school list serve (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you have taught for less than five years, we recommend that you to apply for the Maitland P. Simmons Memorial Award (https://www.nsta.org/docs/awards/NewTeacher.pdf). This outstanding program provides a year of professional development that includes attendance at the NSTA national conference.
Get Involved and Grow as a Leader
Involvement in NSTA will also allow you to grow as a leader in your educational community. We encourage you to expand your relationship with NSTA by volunteering to serve on a NSTA committee or advisory board. Consider lending your expertise to the Committee on Middle Level Science Teaching or to the Science Scope Advisory Board. This is a great way to meet colleagues from across the nation while helping to drive decisions that will impact the organization.
If you are planning on attending an upcoming NSTA national or regional conference, submit a proposal for a session. Keep in mind, however, that proposals need to be submitted nearly a year in advance (http://www.nsta.org/conferences/sessions.aspx). Presenting in front of your peers will help you grow both professionally and personally. If your strengths lie in written communication, you may want to consider authoring an article for Science Scope. A great way to build your confidence and knowledge prior to submitting a manuscript is to offer to review for Science Scope. In the process, you will be providing a valuable service to NSTA while gaining an insider’s viewpoint regarding the publication process.
The path to greater involvement in NSTA is as varied as the numerous member opportunities available to you. Whether you choose to become more active at the conference level, develop your reviewing or writing skills, or to serve in a leadership capacity, your growth as a science educator will be profound and may lead to the greatest benefit of all: friendship.
Patty McGinnis teaches at Arcola Intermediate School in Eagleville, PA and is editor of Science Scope. Kitchka Petrova is currently a doctoral student at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. Their book Be a Winner: A Science Teacher’s Guide to Writing Successful Grant Proposals allows readers to learn from veteran science teachers about the secrets to successful grant writing. Formatted as a handy workbook, this practical book takes you step by step through the writing process.
Join today and receive Science Scope, the peer-reviewed journal just for middle school teachers; connect on the middle level science teaching list (members can sign up on the list server); or consider joining your peers for Meet Me in the Middle Day (MMITM) at the National Conference on Science Education in Los Angeles in the spring of 2017.
The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.
Future NSTA Conferences
2016 STEM Forum & Expo, hosted by NSTA
2016 Area Conferences
2017 National Conference