Being an engaged educator who is inspiring the engineers of the future is hard enough. Between meeting curriculum requirements, preparing for standardized tests, trying to navigate technology, and doing all that in a post-pandemic world to boot-- not doubt it can be an overwhelming and under-appreciated undertaking. This is why it's especially important to find ways to stay engaged yourself-- to make your work meaningful and to instill your passion into your students.
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn says we are the average of the five people we hang out with most. Admittedly, that might be why my midsection resembles that of Ben and Jerry, but there is a way to bring that passion for teaching back, and that is by hanging out with other teachers who are doing what you hope to do in your own classroom.
Teachers who take part in organizations and groups are able to bounce ideas off of others and to be supported as necessary; not to mention to often get access to great lessons you might not have come up with otherwise. If aerospace is your passion, and is one you want to pass on to your students, keep these teacher organizations in mind:
Space Foundation Teacher Liaisons: Applications are currently open here:. although this will change from year to year. TLs are selected from around the world and share an interest in space education. Although centered in Colorado, Liaisons are comprised of teachers of many grade levels around the United States and internationally as well. Similarly, their professional development (PD) is geared towards all age levels and the lessons are both engaging for students and easy to implement for teachers. From their website: "Teacher Liaisons tend to be Master Teachers who work to inspire and prepare students to pursue and excel in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Membership in the Teacher Liaison program is open to educators in all disciplines, ranging from science and mathematics to language arts, physical education, special education, and the arts. Applicants must demonstrate their commitment to integrate space education into their curriculum.
The Teacher Liaison program is open to public, private, and homeschool teachers, in both informal and formal education.
Following a rigorous application and selection process, a new class of Teacher Liaisons is announced each December. Upon selection, the new class of Teacher Liaisons is called a “Flight” to denote the teachers’ mission as premier space/STEM educators. Although I am considered more of an "artsy" teacher with my background in English and Debate, I was honored to be selected as a Liaison in 2019.
2. American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Most often, the AIAA is thought of as an organization for professionals in the filed, but since there is concern about filling the STEM pipeline, the AIAA recognizes the importance of educators in the role of inspiring the future workforce. Being an educator member affords you access to curriculum, monthly magazine access, and grant possibilities! Check them out here .
There are also opportunities to engage with your local chapter. I was able to meet up with the Palm Beach section and eventually became our K-12 STEM education liaison. This position has put me in contact with many aerospace professionals who have provided opportunities for my students. There is also an annual essay contest for 7th and 8th graders!
3. ISS Space Station Ambassadors: Connect your students with real work being done on the ISS! Participate in workshops for educators and have access to a wealth of opportunities for you students. Check out al the possibilities here:
4. National Space Society Ambassadors (NSS) Become a member, and be an ambassador. From their website:
What is a Space Ambassador?
A Space Ambassador is an NSS member who wishes to educate the general public about the importance of space exploration and the exciting progress being made in meeting the NSS vision: “People living and working (in space) in thriving communities beyond the Earth, using the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity.”
Become involved by clicking here
5. Civil Air Patrol: While not a professional organization per se. The CAP is an auxiliary of the US Air Force and provides many lessons and curriculum ideas for teachers in relation to aviation. Check out their offerings here:
There are many other organizations out there to join-- you can even check out groups on FB, but the point is to get involved with other likeminded educators. By working together, we make more of an impact. We also encourage you to follow the Aerospace and Innovation Academy on FB and on our website here: We offer aerospace PD and aerospace camps/classes for your interested middle-high school students.