At the MTA Annual Meeting it was great to see so many active, engaged Education Support Professionals (ESPs). The roles of ESPs have dramatically changed since I started teaching. There are more ESPs today and their roles are deeper and more sensitive than ever before. In many cases, the ESP is a child's lifeline in school--they are the people that connect children to valuable services, teaching, and learning.
Another valuable aspect of ESPs is that it is often an inroad to teaching for people from many walks of life. This is valuable because it helps our schools to mirror the cultures, languages, and interests of our students.
There is room for growth with regard to the ESP role. First, there probably needs to be more delineation of roles within ESP ranks since there is great diversity of roles. There needs to be care and attention to pay too since many ESPs are not making a livable wage. Further, careful attention to ESPs career paths is important too as the ESP role can be a terrific path to becoming an educator or leader.
The Massachusetts Teachers Association is much stronger because so many Education Support Professionals belong to the union. Their voices are integral to the work we do together as learning teams including students, families, educators (including education support professionals), leaders, and citizens.