Education Support Professionals (ESPs) include a wide range of District staff. They include school secretaries, paraprofessionals, custodial staff, food service workers, and bus drivers. Without ESP members, kids wouldn't get extra help and attention, the bell wouldn't ring, the busses wouldn't run, and the schools wouldn't be safe and clean. Nationwide, ESP members number one-half million and growing, making up more than 40 percent of the total K-12 education workforce. ESP members are critically important to the school community
Get Your Career Off to a Great Start
You were hired because you are the best candidate for the job! Keep that positive image going by practicing some of these tips.
- Learn School Policies. You need to know what the administration expects from students and staff in regard to areas of school life.
- Learn Work Rules. These rules affect and direct your job and employment, e.g. applying for vacation time or taking a sick day.
- Discuss Expectations. Within the first few days, talk to your fellow employees. Ask them what their expectations on the job are. Tell them what your job expectations are. This helps you as a member of a positive employee team.
- Plan Your Work. You will want to be organized and have "all bases covered." What you do during the first week or two will help establish expectations of your value as a team employee.
- Learn Names. As quickly as possible, learn the names of your unit coworkers. Once this is done learn the names of other worksite personnel.
- Be Consistent. Begin the year with confidence in yourself and in your ability to do your job and become better at it. Be firm in your belief of yourself and your abilities.
- Deal with Disruptive Student Behavior. Know your school policies. Ask for clarification of the policies before events occur. Remember that 89% of violent acts that occur in schools occur outside the classroom. These are the areas where ESP employees are found. By knowing and enforcing school safety policies, you are contributing to the overall quality of the school. In a tense situation, the use of humor might be the best course of action. When a possible challenge is perceived, humor can be used to negate the challenge. Don't be ashamed or hesitant to ask for help. Association representatives and other school employees are there to help-use them.
- Schedule When Necessary. Many employees are successful when they regularly plan meeting their work responsibilities. Your first few weeks are crucial to your career. Using administrative guidance, plan, plan, and plan again for this time period. Then follow through. It will demonstrate your interest and value. As you gain experience in your job, the planning will become easier. It will lead to recognition of your abilities.
Maintain Your Professional Records
Keep These in a Safe Place!
Maintain an easily accessible personal file(s) at home or at school to contain important documents such as:
- Licenses and/or certificates
- Transcripts of credits and degrees
- Record of job-related seminars, workshops and conferences
- Letters of appointment or hire
- Employee contracts, including any supplemental contracts
- Record of hire from the employer's official minutes (Board meeting minutes)
- Record of accumulated sick leave and other leave days (personal, vacation)
- Copy of assignment schedule
- Log of tax-deductible job-related expenses
- Copies of insurance policies
- Information from the retirement system
- Yearly salary notice provided by the employer
- Documentation of commendations, awards and honors
- Employee salary or wage schedule; pay stubs
- All evaluation records
- Letters to and from parents and students
- Letters to and from administrators/supervisors and department heads
- District policies on student discipline, suspension, expulsion, corporal punishment
- Record of disciplinary methods used in handling student problems, including date and witnesses involved
- Record of assaults, violence, or workplace thefts
- Written personal reconstruction of events surrounding student injuries
- School calendar
- Fringe benefit information; claim records
What You Need to Know
In order to be the best you can be, you need to make sure you know the following:
- Your work hours
- Your duties and responsibilities
- Any additional duties and responsibilities such as catering, dispensing of medicine, athletic events, field trips
- The district's and/or school's policy on dispensing medication, email and Internet usage, and fire drills and lockdowns
- Know how and when you are paid.
- How to handle a sick day, personal leave day or an emergency for you
- Who to contact in case of a classroom or school emergency
- When and where regular staff meetings are held and if you are paid for attending
- Where and how to get supplies
- How to fill out school forms
- How and when you are paid; payroll deductions
- What insurance coverage you have
Also, make sure you have the following on hand:
- Required district forms such as W-2, insurance enrollment, license/certificate, bargained contract
- Calendar of school events
- A copy of the student handbook
Regardless of what job you do in your school district, it's important to build relationships with your fellow workers--and that's not only the support staff. Getting to know the other staff members and the administration can only help to make your time at work be more pleasant. Knowing what staff members do can help you better understand their specific needs. Here are some tips to help you fit in:
- The Supervisor. Assess your supervisor's style as soon as possible. Talk to your colleagues to get some idea of what he/she is like. At the same time, don't take everything you are told as the absolute truth. Don't make hasty judgments. Probably the best advice is to try to deal with as many things as possible on your own or with the help of the association. Reserve going to the supervisor for major issues.
- The Principal. The principal may or may not be a factor in your daily work life but he/she is still someone to know. Follow the same advice for the principal as you would for your supervisor.
- The Teachers." Make friends before you need them," is good advice for the teachers in a school building. Getting to know who teaches what and what their classroom rules are can make doing your job easier. It may sometimes feel as if teachers are just another level of supervisors above you. Remember-you all share the same concern-kids. Doing what's best for the teacher can also be what's best for the students.
How to be Your Own Best Advocate
Be a Winner in the Job Survival Game
To keep from being "voted" off the worksite, consider these association survival techniques:
- Make contact with the association. Become a member. Find out what the benefits are.
- Know your contract. Many of your job duties and responsibilities are spelled out there.
- Check out your probationary rights. In this trial period, your rights may be different or non-existent. Find out how long you are on probation.
- Know what your benefits are. Sit down with an association rep who can explain what you're entitled to.
- Follow your supervisor's directions. You may not like the order but you have an obligation to follow it. Grieve later.
- Check your personnel file. Take time to look at your file at least once a year. Make a list of the contents, sign and date the list, and keep it with your important papers.
- Don't sign anything until you have checked with the association. Don't be pressured or persuaded to sign anything until you fully understand the document.
- Take someone with you. If you think a meeting could lead to discipline or you are discussing a serious issue with your supervisor(s), request to have an association rep with you.
- Don't let problems get out of control. Don't wait too long to bring up a problem or issue with your association rep. If you are going to file a grievance, you have strict timelines to follow.
- Ignorance is no excuse. Claiming, "I didn't know!" usually won't get you out of trouble.
- Be on time and do your job to the best of your ability. If there are problems accomplishing this, see your association rep.