Let’s Talk ESP Blog: Is the Grass Greener on the Other Side?
By Gail Kablau
Education Support Professional
WEAC ESP-at-Large Board Director
At the end of a very long year in education, I look around me at work each day and see exhausted faces. Bone. Tired. Exhausted. I would be dishonest, if I didn’t include the one I see when I look in the mirror.
I see faces of people who have finally had enough and are retiring early. I see those who sit on the fence of should I or shouldn’t I retire/come back next year? I hear people talking about going to another District or leaving education altogether. They’ve had enough. And who can blame them? Another year of COVID, and another year of attacks on public education.
For those who are on the fence, I ask this. Is the grass really greener on the other side? Will another District pay you more money, but give you less benefits? Will they pay you more money per hour, but give you less hours? Will they pay more money for Special Education paraprofessionals, but still give you more students than you can handle, because there are still not enough of you?
It’s important to weigh all options before moving District to District, retiring early, or leaving the profession. Make sure you are looking at all of the variables before you decide. The grass may, in fact, not be greener on the other side. If that’s the case, then working together through your Union to make things better where you are is important.
While there is certainly a time and place to look for where it is greener on the other side, I’ve always believed that making a difference where I’m at is achievable. In fact, I’ve pretty much dedicated my career to it.
We can’t live in the world of “If only…” or “I’ll be happy when …” mentality. If something isn’t working, we need to keep working towards making it better. Our Union work is key in doing that. I know that it can feel daunting when there are so many major issues – where do you start?
If we want things to be greener where we are, we need to address the major issues – one at a time. Try not to come forward with a page full of concerns when meeting with a building Principal or District administration.
- Poll your members
- Find out what the real concerns are and prioritize them.
- Can some of them be combined into one category?
- Are some more time bound than others?
- Make a plan to deal with each of the concerns starting with the most urgent. Once you have dealt with that concern, start with the next one on the priority list.
If your Local needs help in making things better – there are resources out there to help you. You don’t have to figure it out alone. As a Union, we always have a larger collective to reach out to for help.
Do you need help with increasing your membership to grow your power?
- Check with your Regional office to see if they are offering workshops or other materials or resources on holding a successful membership drive.
- Write a grant to get NEA funding to assist with membership drives. Training may also be available by NEA Representatives.
- The WEAC website has a Local Assessment Tool that Locals can use to see where they need to make changes.
Do you need help with Union leadership training?
- Check with your Regional office staff to see if they are offering workshops, or other materials or resources, or can come to your Local to meet with members to work out a leadership plan.
- WEAC Leadership Academy was created for teach Local leadership teams how to be more effective. This year it will be held July 25-27 in DePere, WI. Sign-up now with a Local team or just as one person, if you don’t have a team. In person & online options are available.
As this school year comes to a close, if you are looking to see where the grass is greener, please be honest with yourself about the real issue before leaving where you are. If you need someone to work through it with you, contact me. 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: email@example.com.