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Professional Development

NEA believes that professional development should be required throughout the career of education support professionals. Professional development programs should provide equal opportunities for these educators to gain and improve the knowledge and skills important to their positions and job performance. They should assure that these educators have a decisive voice at every stage of planning, implementation, and evaluation. Student achievement depends on supporting and educating the whole student. To have high standards for students, there must be high standards for the staff members who work with them. 

NEA offers a wide variety of professional development programs through our State Affiliates. Below is a list and description of current programs available to affiliates. Our two premier professional development opportunities are the NEA ESP National Conference and the NEA ESP Leadership Institute program. Additional programs may be available to ESP members through their State or Local Association.

For additional information on any of the professional development programs below please contact Lisa Connor in the NEA ESP Quality Department.

Professional Development Webinar Trainings

NEA ESP Quality Department in the Center of Great Public Schools, in collaboration with various professionals in the education workforce, have created a wide variety of professional development webinars designed to support the professional growth of Education Support Professionals (ESP).

Enhance you professional skills today and sign up here!

View our archived training recordings here.


ESP Podcast Spotlight

New to education? This podcast brings you advice from educators who have been there, done that. Get classroom management tips, lesson plan ideas, and other life-hacks to help inspire your career. Below are a few ESP podcast highlights.

March 13, 2020
Effective Communication Tips for ESPs
ESP Guest: Kimberly Scott-Hayden | NJ

January 22, 2020
Resources for Paraeducators and Fine-Tuning Your Skills
ESP Guest: Tameka Mays | DE

November 18, 2019
Standing with ESPs
ESP Career Committee Members: Karl Goeke | John Scanlan

October 15, 2019
Career Growth for ESPs
ESP Guest: Nicki Belnap | OR

Visit School Me | Podcast to access additional new educator podcast sessions!


The micro-credential implementation support model brings educators together in collaborative groups, such as professional learning communities (PLCs), to focus on common learning goals. NEA's micro-credential offerings vary from Bully Free Schools, Supporting LGBTQ Students, to Classroom Management. Micro-credentials allow ESP the opportunity to move along the ESP Professional Growth Continuum through online professional development.

Click here to read more about how micro-credentials work.

Click here to get started!

NEA ESP National Conference

The NEA ESP Conference is the premier professional development conference for Education Support Professionals. The conference is designed to provide professional development opportunities for participants to help them gain the skills they need to build stronger locals: building strong internal and external relationships, organizing members, and enhancing NEA ESP members' ability to influence positively student achievement.

NEA ESP Leadership Institute

The NEA ESP Leadership Institute program was created to train future ESP leaders in leadership attitudes, skills, and knowledge. The overarching goal is to develop skilled ESP leaders across the 50 states. Each year 40 ESP members are selected to participate in the program through an extremely competitive process. The NEA ESP Leadership Institute is based on a learning community concept influenced by systems thinking guru Peter Senge's work.

"When all is said and done, the only change that will make a difference is the transformation of the human heart."

Beat Privatization: A Step-by-Step Crisis Action Plan

When a school district is already considering contracting out for services, it’s too late to develop a pro-active anti-privatization campaign. The local must organize and act immediately! When it is necessary to react to a privatization crisis, Beat Privatization provides the tools necessary to organize the reaction into an Offensive Action Plan for the local and its members.

ESP: Supporting Our Own Through Mentoring

NEA believes that mentoring programs help enhance the professional expertise of employees as well as assist in retaining quality employees.  ESP: Supporting Our Own Through Mentoring is designed to assist members in their understanding of mentoring in general and outlines the necessary steps to implement a successful mentoring program.  Click here to read more about NEA's ESP mentoring program.

Education Support Professionals: Meeting the Needs of the Whole Student

Do members of your community understand the essential role that Education Support Professionals (ESP) play in education and in student success? ESP keep students physically and emotionally healthy and safe, engage students so they feel connected to the wider school community, support students who require specialized interventions, and challenge them to understand the connection between education and lifelong success. They keep students healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged, ensuring their success for college, career and citizenship.

During this training, participants will learn about:

  • The Whole Student approach and messaging how ESP are a critical member of the education workforce.
  • Building connections and improving communication between educators and the community. Creating these relationships is critical to gain respect and recognition for ESP and protect against outsourcing to for-profit corporations.
  • Participants will walk away feeling empowered to engage and network with community members in order to build support for their fellow ESP, students and public education.

Click here to view a PDF copy of the Education Support Professional Whole Student Poster.