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Sharing and dialogue for professional practice

By: LIZ KERRINS

Tuesday 04 February 2020

Every day, significant adults in the lives of young children, including early years educators, support and guide children to learn to share with others, to forge connections, to negotiate differences and to communicate, to be creative and to solve problems, to include others in their play. Our human need to reach out, to engage with each other in order to learn, remains as we develop and age.

Indeed, educationalists are clear that peer learning – where practitioners learn from each other - is one of the most effective ways in which professional learning happens. Peer learning is collaborative, mutually supportive, stimulating enquiry that embraces new research evidence, knowledge and the practice wisdom.  Professional learning is about research, reflection, innovation, and problem-solving, to the benefit of children, families and communities.  Participation in professional learning opportunities and sharing new ideas and innovations helps us develop as professionals. Engagement with research and keeping up to date with research evidence is one of the hallmarks of a profession. 

Early Childhood Ireland’s annual Research Day is one of the premier professional learning opportunities in the Irish early years calendar. This year, our Research Day is being held on Friday,  3 April in Croke Park, from 9am to 4pm.  

The theme is Leading Transformation Together.  Early Childhood Ireland hopes that, using the research evidence presented at the Research Day, we can collectively explore and discuss the steps we all need to take to realise First 5’s vision of high-quality play-based early learning and care experiences for babies and young children.

By ‘research’ we mean systematic investigations of topics and themes, usually formed into questions to be answered using scientific research methods, e.g., surveys, interviews, focus groups, literature reviews, analysis of data collected by someone else. We welcome quantitative and qualitative research projects and mixed-method approaches. We would particularly love to hear about practitioner-led action research projects aimed at improving elements of practice in settings evaluations of services, interventions and practices also count as research.

We welcome all kinds of research undertaken for all kinds of purposes: final year undergraduate dissertations; Masters-level dissertations; completed PhD theses, and work in progress.  We welcome commissioned research undertaken by academic researchers and research consultants; curiosity-driven academic research; policy and legal analysis; research undertaken by government departments and agencies to develop policy. You don’t have to be an educator or owner of a setting, or even a member of Early Childhood Ireland, to submit an abstract.

The subject matter, while it should be relevant to early childhood education and care, can be broad. There are 7 strands under which you can submit an abstract

Early Childhood Ireland knows that the ECEC and SAC sector is incredibly diverse. We welcome and encourage the diversity of perspectives on early childhood education and care, from all disciplines and professions.  

There are three categories for entries: academic papers (of maximum 2,500 words); reflective papers (maximum 1,000 words) and posters.  Reflective papers provide an opportunity for practitioners to reflect on an element of practice and how the use of research evidence has altered that practice. Please note that the closing date for abstracts is Monday, 10 February, 2020.

The paper that you deliver at the Research Day may even be published in Early Childhood Ireland’s new research day proceedings publication!  The publication’s Research and Professional Learning team are currently finalising the Proceedings Journal with selected papers from last years research conference, to be launched this year.  

Even if you do not have any current research to present, or you haven’t (yet!) got the courage to present, I would really encourage you to come along and engage in professional dialogue with your peers.  You are part of a learning community, whether you are research active or not, and whether you have completed an undergraduate or postgraduate dissertation or thesis. 

The Research Day will also feature:

  • An opening keynote address from Dr Verity Campbell-Barr, University of Plymouth, UK on child-centred practice for children under 3
  • A keynote address from Dr Adrijana Višnjić Jevtić, Faculty of Teacher Education in Zagreb, Croatia on quality transitions from preschool to primary
  • A tailored masterclass delivered by independent research consultant Breandán Ó Caoimh, on writing a paper for publication in a conference proceedings report or journal.

Hope to see you there!

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