Let’s Talk ESP Blog: Stop Apologizing
By Gail Kablau
Education Support Professional
WEAC ESP-at-Large Board Director
We all have them – pet peeves – those little things that people do that we find bothersome. I’m no exception. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I see support staff apologizing for being in the room. We apologize when we call to ask someone a question. We apologize when asking to work something out with an administrator. We apologize for having an opinion. Well, I’m here to say that unless you have actually made a mistake or done something wrong, stop apologizing.
We don’t need to apologize for being support staff. We are not “just a…. Secretary, Paraprofessional, Bus Driver, Custodian, Food Service Worker, Security Officer, etc.”. We are not “less than” anyone else who works in our District. Our jobs are integral to the public school system. They can’t run the schools without us. We are colleagues with everyone we work with, whether it is within our own support staff group, the teachers, or an administrator.
When addressing a colleague, do so as equals. Don’t start a conversation with, “I’m sorry, can I bother you a moment?” Instead, walk into the room with confidence and say, “Something has come up, can we work through it together?”. If we are ever going to get the respect we deserve, we must respect ourselves as equal partners in education first.
In March, I attended the NEA Education Support Professionals Conference. I must admit, as someone who has been extremely cautious throughout the pandemic, I had to think long and hard about whether or not to travel, but I decided that it was time to get back out there – safely, of course. Masked and tested, I made the trip. It was a great opportunity to connect with other ESP members from across the nation and share our experiences. It doesn’t hurt that it was in New Orleans, and we had perfect weather in the 70’s every day. I make no apologies for enjoying down time outdoors during the conference.
I found the conference re-invigorating at a time when I was feeling exhausted and overwhelmed by what has been the most difficult year I have ever experienced in my 23 years in public education. While others shared some of those same frustrations, they also shared great successes. And they shared hope that we will be able to move out of this challenging time with new and innovative ways to change what’s not working, and build on the successes we have made.
I hope you’re ready to move on, too. No hesitation, no apologies – just a commitment to work collaboratively with all of the education colleagues in your District and in your Union to effect positive change.
If you are a WEAC Representative Assembly (RA) delegate, you have another opportunity to network with other ESP members from around the State at the virtual ESP Caucus on April 27 at 6PM (Zoom). You have to be an elected delegate to participate, and you must register in advance. You will receive registration information with your RA materials. I hope to see you there for an important discussion about how to use a mentoring approach to strength your Local.
Are you ready to move on? Let’s Talk!
- WEAC ESP webpage
- Join the NEA ESP Facebook Group
- Follow @NEArESPect on Twitter
- Key Facts About ESPs
- Helping ESPs Cope Through SEL
- Education Support Professional Organizing Toolkit
Gail Kablau is the WEAC Education Support Professional (ESP)-at-Large Board Representative. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.