1. National Science Teacher Association (NSTA): Promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.
NSTA publishes a wide variety of science education books and journals all K-12, offers one national conference and three regional conferences each year, NGSS implementation resources, discussion boards and more.
2. California Science Teacher Association (CSTA):
CSTA offers one annual conference that visits major cities in California. They offer resources for California specific NGSS standards, implementation timelines, assessment information, etc. CSTA publishes a bimonthly electronic newsletter as well.
3. American Physical Society (APS): A nonprofit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy, and international activities.
APS offers subject specific meetings throughout the year, publishes several journals, career guidance, resources and statements for several outreach programs including education, women in physics, minorities in physics and LGBTQ+ persons in physics.
4. American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT): A professional membership association of scientists dedicated to enhancing the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching.
AAPT offers two national conferences/ meetings a year, a larger one in summer and a smaller one in the winter. There are several publications that come out monthly or weekly, in print and electronically. Teaching resources including videos, select pedagogical articles, free downloadable posters, recommended websites, blogs and simulations. AAPT also administers the national US Physics Team assessments for the annual team selection. The association is open to all physics teachers, including middle school, high school and university level.
5. Local sections of AAPT; i.e. the Northern California/ Nevada Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers (NCNAAPT):
Often less expensive and more intimate than their parent organization, local sections offer a much closer-to-home conference with local teachers. There are often keynote speakers, panels on educational issues and lots of time to interact with others. The real benefit to this is creating a network of physics teachers near you that you can turn to for help. Our local section offers teachers a chance to present new demos, research or just interesting things they have found. We often have giveaways and offer mentoring for new teachers in the area. A one day meeting in your area is often much easier to fit into your life than a three day meeting potentially on the other side of the country. The association welcomes teachers from all levels, including those that may not be a physics teacher by trade. (Our meetings are that fun ;)
6. Physics Teachers S.O.S. (PTSOS):
Born from the local NCNAAPT, PTSOS is a free series of three workshops for new or new-to-physics teachers. The program offers tried and true lessons from veteran teachers including dynamics demos and the materials with which to do them. Participants get a chance to try the lessons so that they feel more comfortable using them in their own classroom. It is very common to hear, "I'm doing this on Monday!" throughout the day. Generous donors keep this program running, supplying materials and food to participants. There is an active listserve and twitter handle as well for "need help now!" situations. The program is designed for high school teachers and sometimes fills up. If you are ever signing up say I sent you ;)
7. Exploratorium's New Teacher Induction Program (previously the Beginning/New Teacher Institute):
This is a program you have to apply to and is open to all science and math teachers in their first few years of teaching. Participants are compensated for their time, usually spoiled with food and are part of a supportive network of alumni from throughout the country. New teachers are matched with a mentor(s) for out-of-class support and an in-class coach. I like to describe mentors as the emotional support system, think of having a coffee date with that friend that always says just what you need to hear to motivate you to continue on. The in-class coaches are a unique chance to have a veteran teacher observe you solely for your benefit. There will be many times a new teacher will be observed, perhaps for evaluation by an administrator or by a district support coach for state credential clearance. But in both of those cases the observation fulfills someone else's need, not the new teacher's. An Exploratorium Coach observes new teachers to (shocking!) help the new teacher. The observations and communications are not shared with any school officials (even if they ask) and they will guide you to reflect on your own practice. Program participants also attend content and pedagogy workshops throughout the year and a multi-week institute in the summer. There are other Exploratorium institutes, programs and conferences offered throughout the year, I recommended going to as many as you can.
For the non-physics teachers:
- National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT)
- National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT)
- American Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT)
All of which seem to offer subject-specific classroom resources, publications and conferences like AAPT. Additionally I found this list from CSU Long Beach that included some above and some for some non-physics subjects.
Realistically you can't join all of these or attend all of these opportunities. But I strongly suggest being aware of what is out there and trying a few. Got a sister in San Diego? Visit CSTA when it's down there and its a two-for-one deal. Does your district pay for local conferences? Try a local AAPT section meeting. Or perhaps you get a grant for some continuing education? Join NSTA and get some journals or books. You're going to be pulled in a lot of different directions in your first few years so balance is key. Don't ever feel like you have to join a professional organization but as a current or past member of most of these, they do help. Going to a professional organization can be invigorating and inject some amazing new resources into your current curriculum. Building a network of people you can turn to for help is invaluable and much easier to do in person.