Every day, you help students achieve their goals at schools across the state. Whether you’re an instructional assistant, a bus driver, security staff, custodian, or a school counselor, you’re the backbone of public schools.
If you’re interested in helping students, education support is a great place to start! Read on to learn more about the many roles you play.
Education Support Professionals (ESPs)
ESPs keep students healthy, safe, engaged and challenged so they are ready to learn. Their duties range from classroom aides to custodial and bus drivers to security staff, food service workers and administrative assistants.
MSEA has a long history of helping education support professionals win decent wages and better working conditions. Our members work hard every day and deserve recognition for their contributions to public schools and communities.
MTA’s Education Support Professional of the Year award goes to an ESP who has demonstrated excellence in his or her field. Our awards ceremony is held during the ESP Conference, a weekend of professional development, networking and fun. Among other things, we’ll award a shiny ESP trophy to the most deserving winner. For more information, click here. Alternatively, you can contact the ESP coordinator. The NEA and FEA offer numerous tools and resources for ESPs including webinars, conferences, micro-credential courses, toolkits and publications. Become an FEA member today!
Paraeducators, also called teaching assistants, play an essential role in supporting student learning. They provide one-on-one assistance to students with disabilities, help manage classroom activities, lead small group instruction, and facilitate communication between students and their families who speak languages other than English.
They are also critical to ensuring that students have access to instructional materials and information in their least restrictive environment (LRE). Without paraeducators, these students would not be able to receive their educational needs met.
Many schools, private schools, special education centers and tutoring offices hire paraeducators to work directly with students in a variety of settings. These environments allow paraeducators to establish and maintain personal connections and relationships with teachers, administrators and their students.
School counselors are a key part of any school’s student support system. They help students deal with mental health and social issues that can be difficult to overcome on their own.
They also work with parents to help them understand their children’s needs and guide them on how to best support them.
These professionals can work with a wide range of students, from gifted children to those with disabilities or behavioral problems. They also have many opportunities to collaborate with teachers and administrators.
Counselors can conduct small-group counseling sessions with students on topics such as building rapport, coping with loss of a loved one and career planning.
They often consult with psychologists, social workers and nurses to create a school environment that promotes academic success, healthy living and personal growth. They also can refer students to other mental-health providers in the community when additional services are needed. They can also work with teachers and other stakeholders to develop plans to address any behavioral issues that may be interfering with students’ education.
School Support Staff
School support staff are an integral part of schools, working alongside teachers and students to provide a supportive learning environment. They work in a variety of roles that include teachers’ aides, personal assistants, librarians and executive officers.
Many of these roles can be highly demanding and a high level of personal attention is necessary to succeed in them. The training and development needs of school support staff should be included as an integral part of the annual school development plans.
Traditionally the majority of school support staff have been employed on fixed term contracts, mainly in line with the academic cycle and often as a result of fluctuations in funding. This has created uncertainty for staff and a lack of stability for pupils.
There are some exceptions to this, such as the case of sports coaches who may need to be flexible in their hours and work on a casual basis. However, it is important to check that these hours do not exceed the total amount of time per week which would be covered by their employment agreement.