Research conferences as professional learning

Are you thinking about professional learning opportunities for you and your staff at the moment? Have you thought about attending a research conference? We are very lucky to have high-quality Australian conferences that showcase the sector’s passions for practice and research, and these are a great way for you and your staff to find out what’s happening.

Early on the 2018 conference calendar is the AJEC Research Symposium in Brisbane (16–17 February). Following on from the successful event in 2017, this conference is one of our sector’s cutting-edge events where researchers share what they’ve found out about, and why that matters to educators, policy-makers, teacher-educators and other researchers. For instance, myself and Sandie Wong will be talking about our research project investigating early childhood educator wellbeing. I’m sure I don’t need to justify to you all why that matters, but we’ll also be talking about how we came up with a holistic model of educator wellbeing that recognises the complexity of the work. We will also be giving details of how we measured educator wellbeing holistically and what we found. Hint, it involves wearable technologies, and yes, educators are stressed—the research says so. No, no, I won’t say more, you’ll have to come along to hear all about it!

Attending the conference also gives you time to meet and catch up with colleagues from all over Australia. Being away from ‘work’ gives you the chance to make and strengthen connections face-to-face that can turn into a visit to share practice, some research together, or consulting on an area that you’ve been needing help with. Attending a research conference can also be a great opportunity for staff to engage deeply with practice issues together. Maybe plan to meet up at morning tea or lunch to talk over something that inspired or challenged you, or that validated approaches you are already using. You can also talk directly with researchers about ways their findings match or differ from your own experiences, or talk about your service becoming involved in research activities.

Starting the year with a conference also reminds me of what a great sector we have, and why we all do this—to make a difference to children, families and the early education workforce. There’s nothing like being with your people. Book now!

To learn more about the 2018 AJEC Research Symposium, click here

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Tamara Cumming

Dr Tamara Cumming (BA, BSocSci (Hons), PhD) has worked in the early childhood sector for over 12 years, holding positions as early childhood educator, inclusion support manager and research officer in children’s services organisations. She has expertise in evaluating early childhood programs as part of university and sector-based teams, and in using a variety of evaluation and qualitative research methods. Tamara’s research is driven by a concern for early childhood educators and the sustainability of the early childhood workforce. Her particular research interests are educators’ wellbeing and making visible the complexity of educators’ practice. Tamara is currently a lecturer in the School of Teacher Education, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst.

One thought on “Research conferences as professional learning”

    Joyce Bathalter says:

    Great observations and needed article! US public schools offer “retreat days” and programs. Sometimes too many. The laws and payment schedules, plus disaster, snow days often interfere with good scheduling. Early Childhood educators are starting to do much more for the workforce. I am so happy to see this happening!

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