Professional Learning

REAIE supports the development of a national learning community committed to research for a new culture of childhood in Australia.

We offer a range of professional learning services and events, including:

Biennial Conferences

REAIE Biennial Conferences provide a rich opportunity for educators from Australia, New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region to learn about current projects and perspectives on the educational project of Reggio Emilia.

Study Tours

REAIE coordinates annual Study Tours to Reggio Emilia (usually in January and April) and New Zealand (usually in August).

Tailored professional learning programs

On request, REAIE organises speakers, consultants, mentors, and tailored workshops and seminars on a range of topics relating to the educational project of Reggio Emilia and the interpretation of the principles within Australian contexts.

Follow the link to find out more about our tailored professional learning programs.

Network Groups

Local events are organised by the REAIE Network Groups, supported by the REAIE office.

The Documentation Centre

The REAIE Documentation Centre holds a collection of projects and provocations of Australian early learning centres and schools inspired by the educational project of Reggio Emilia. Find out more about the Documentation Centre open days and private facilitated viewings here.

National Twilight Centre Visits

Each year, centres around Australia invite members of the REAIE community to explore their learning environments, view documentation and meet with fellow teaching professionals. Learn more here.

Workshops & Seminars

Workshops and seminars are held around Australia. See the events calendar for details about upcoming events.

“Research is a habit of mind, an attitude that can be developed or neglected. It is a response to curiosity and doubt. It con­structs new knowledge, makes for critical thinking and is part of citizenship and democracy. Like everything else about Reggio, research is not a solitary activity, but a process of rela­tionships and dialogue.”
Carla Rinaldi and Peter Moss

Professional Learning enquiries

Karen Szydlik

Professional Learning Coordinator


Use the contact form to enquire about a private professional learning workshop, book a speaker, or for general professional learning enquiries.

Reflections on past professional learning events

Reflections by Kirsty Liljegren – 2017 Conference Co-Convenor

The Sydney International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour proved to be a spectacular venue to hold the 2017 Biennial National Conference – Landscapes of Identity.

Eleven hundred delegates were welcomed to Gadigal country by Aunty Faye Carrol followed by the official opening of the conference by Australia’s first National Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell. Megan is an advocate for the rights of all children and young people in Australia, which set the scene beautifully for what was to come.

The magnificent Sydney Town Hall, adorned in ‘REAIE green’ lighting, welcomed participants with a cocktail party, and an atmosphere of great anticipation and collegiality.

The keynote speakers, Maddalena Tedeschi (Pedagogista) and Maura Rovacchi  (Atelierista at the municipal preschool 8 Marzo) captivated audiences throughout the programme. The sessions were inspiring, stirring, and created a buzz throughout the duration of the conference and beyond. The speakers were interpreted with such brilliance by Jane McCall who provided an important bridge of understanding for the audience through her translation. It was a time to reflect on and celebrate the identities of children as citizens with rights from birth, educators as researchers and families as participants in early childhood centres and schools as places of learning, democracy and culture.

The programme was enriched by speakers from the Australian context who presented through several breakout sessions, together with a return of the popular RED Talks and a new initiative – the Identity Matters panel.

Reflections by Leanne Mits and Debbie Nicholas – 2017 NZ Study Tour leaders

On Sunday 13 August, we felt privileged as Study Tour Leaders, to join 30 delegates from Australia to begin what was to be a rich and engaging professional learning opportunity.

The week-long program was an opportunity, through presentations, centre visits and facilitated group discussions, for delegates to consider and explore relationships, parallels and provocations between and from the Te Whariki (NZ Early Childhood Curriculum), the Australian Early Years Learning Framework, the research and educational project of Reggio Emilia and our own teaching and learning practices.

The group was accommodated at Vaughan Park, Long Bay which proved to be a perfect setting and facility for the tour. Delegates lived in shared cottage houses accommodating up to 6 people each, with shared bathrooms, lounge and kitchenette areas. There is a main dining, lounge and meeting room for the whole group.

The night before the tour officially began we made ourselves available to meet with any delegates who were ‘in town’, for dinner. A small group met and this was a positive way to get to know some of the delegates in a small group, before the whole group gathered.

The following morning, we were warmly welcomed by the Inspire Team – Lorraine Manuela, Chris Bayes and Wendy Larmer – and we travelled by bus to pick up delegates from pre-organised meeting points around Auckland. There was a positive ‘buzz’ on the bus from the beginning of the tour and the group’s connections, comfort with one another and focus on the intent and possibilities of the tour program continued for the whole week.

The 30 delegates were from all Australian states and territories with the exception of Tasmania. Delegates represented a range of roles in the early childhood profession: Teachers, Educators, Directors, Area and Regional Managers, Pastoral Care, Inclusion Support Managers and Executive Officers. Members of the group worked in a cross-section of the early childhood profession – independent, private, not-for-profit, community, Family Day Care, school based and large company organisations.

Like all groups, this delegation comprised people with a range of work and life backgrounds and experiences. Many had an awareness of Reggio Emilia and a few had engaged with professional learning and work with children around the principles of the education project of Reggio Emilia in practice. Generally speaking, for most of the group the principles of the Reggio Emilia project were quite new.

Everyone was open to learn more, to deepen their knowledge and understandings and to engage in the facilitated discussion groups to support their own learning as well as the learning of others. The questions, wonderings and comments expressed during discussion times were well considered, varied and connected to daily practice. The group spoke openly about their work in early childhood education and everyone was very respectful of questions asked, viewpoints shared and the idea of re-imaging their work with and for children.

Program

Inspire provided an excellent program that included a good balance of cultural experiences, centre visits and presentations.

On the first morning, the group experienced a traditional Maori pōwhiri (welcoming ceremony) at the Te Aka Matua o Te Pou Hawaiki Marae, on the grounds of the University of Auckland, Epson Campus. This is always a very special and moving experience that participants appreciate greatly.

This welcome and connection with Maori culture set the scene for our thinking for the rest of the tour. We became mindful of the strong, visible and authentic connections with culture that we then see in the centres we visit and the presentations shared by the speakers. This element of the program is also an invitation for our delegates to consider what this looks like, feels like and truly is, in our settings and in our country.

This was followed by a visit to the Te Puna Kohungahunga (Kindergarten), a bilingual kindergarten also on the university grounds.

In the afternoon Lorraine Manuela presented, ‘Voices of the Children’, linking Te Whariki and practice. Lorraine spoke about the strands, goals, principles and aspirations of the Te Whariki, with a focus on children’s dispositions (rather than skills and development) for learning. We visited Tots Corner in the evening and this was inspiring for all and especially those working in Long Day Care settings. There was a strong invitation, from this visitation, to consider the both the image of the child and the image of the teacher, and how this is then evident in the environment.

The second day began with a visit to Helenesville Montessori Centre where we had the opportunity to consider the work this centre has shaped over many years, around their interpretation of a Montessori program, in relation to and drawing on inspiration from Reggio Emilia and Te Whariki. This possibility invited good discussion with the teachers at Helenesville and then between delegates about this idea.

Visiting Anchorage Park Kindergarten in the afternoon invited us to consider another environment for teaching and learning. The teachers here spoke about their transition to school work, an intergenerational project they have developed and the way relationships “…is the essence and the heart of our program.”

On day three, Diti Hill, recently retired Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education, University of Auckland, shared an engaging presentation that had delegate’s full attention for 3 hours – ‘Teaching for deep seated and value-based pedagogical change’. Ditti’s presentation offered a ‘glimpse’ into a wide range of topics for consideration in their own right as well as in relation to one another and always in relation to practice.

Day four began with a visit to Peacocks Child Care Centre where delegates were invited to consider children as protagonists. This centre has invested in a Professional Practice Mentor (Prue Crarer) and we could see the rewards of this investment.

We then travelled to Eden Gardens for the afternoon where we heard from Prue and later Wendy Lee. Prue spoke about the work she does across 3 centres as professional mentor, a project Peacocks has initiated with and within their local park land and the journey of staff, through her mentorship, to re-imagine their role and potential as teachers. Prue spoke a lot about adults needing to immerse themselves in the outdoors and to reconnect with the natural world, for their own wellbeing and to be able to best then experience this with children.

Wendy Lee’s presentation, ‘Weaving Professional Education into our Practice’, included discussion about Learning Stories, their intent and purpose; Passionate and Powerful Teachers; Fixed and Growth Mind Set (Carol Dweck); Assessment for Learning; Cultural Pedagogy; and What it means to be a teacher.

That evening we visited Kids Domain, a centre built and funded by the Ministry for Education, for the employees of the Auckland Hospital. The teachers shared a project, supported a tour of the centre and spoke about a recent shift in thinking around the materials in their environment – a special move away from ‘toys’ – what initiated and underpinned this change, and what were the consequences for children, teachers and the centre.

The final day included visitations to two centres; Brown’s Bay Preschool and Magic Garden Child Care Centre. Each centre is privately owned, with one a modified, older house and the other purpose built. The children at Magic Gardens welcomed our group with a welcome song and the Haka – very moving and speaking strongly of the children’s sense of cultural identity.

Every centre’s unique identity provided a wide range of environments for the delegates to explore.  Many provocations for discussion and dialogue followed, both in facilitated groups and throughout the day, small impromptu groups at meal times, while travelling on buses and at Vaughan Park.

As Study Tour Leaders, we felt honoured to share in the growth of the delegate’s knowledge and thinking throughout the week, and appreciated learning from and alongside each of them.

Reflections by Debbie Nicholas and Heather Conroy – REAIE Committee

On Saturday 12 November two groups of 30 people attended two sessions presented by Kelly Boucher entitled ‘Dialogues with Materials’, with the option of also visiting the Documentation Centre prior to the session.

Kelly Boucher is an arts specialist with broad experience teaching in both the arts and education sectors.

Participants were invited to engage in different ways of looking at and thinking about materials typically used within an early childhood setting and were challenged to re-think current ideas about sustainability and were prompted to look at ways to develop ethical practice.

Kelly shared a turning point in her practice that began after attending a Reggio Emilia Study Tour.  A turning point that led to a desire to further research and develop the concepts of materiality, Intra-action, dialogues with materials and a pedagogy of sustainability and ethical practice.

We were introduced to the idea of Intra-action, that is, the fact that we are not actually separate, we are always in a relationship with another at all times.  We can then relate this to a dialogue with materials, not thinking about but rather with materials. How do children think with materials? Do the materials invite actions? How can these materials participate with the child? What are the materials inviting from us?

Kelly spoke about learning the language of materials and creating opportunities for children to take time to better attend to these languages. She reminded us that it is just as important for adults to take the time to get to know the materials themselves, to experience them first hand before offering them to the children.

Participants were presented with a collection of repurposed, recycled materials and were invited to explore, to notice, to get to know the materials and working both individually and as a group.

Kelly shared the theory of socio material; the politics of materials and the ethics of our choices around materials. Participants were challenged to rethink the materials they used in their practice and were given a ‘cardboard challenge’ where paper in their centre was to be replace for a week with recycled cardboard and paper products.

Kelly’s presentation challenged many of our ideas about working with different materials, about how and why we might use them.  We were invited to always have questions, many questions, to be particular about always being in question in everything we do.

The Language of Paper Workshop was embraced with gusto by participants as they explored the alphabet of paper.

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Following the workshop, participants said:

  • ‘I’m very impressed and inspired…I want to know more!’
  • ‘It was a fantastic introduction – not to complicated but not too basic.’
  • ‘I can see the benefits to students and how it would help them to be engaged with the community.’
  • ‘It has triggered some ideas for approaching my Term 3 and 4 program.  Many thanks for your inspiration.’
  • ‘I am relieved to find out that I am not the only one that struggles with documentation, what to document, how to interpret it, and how much to document.’

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Above: Some sculptural depictions of ‘research’ created by participants at the Sydney workshop.

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Above: Participants share their learning with the group.

Some of the thinking around research that emerged during the workshop:

  • ‘My interpretation – and research is always an interpretation – is that research is what you make it.  It is open and intentional.  It can be as deep and meaningful as you want to make it.’
  • ‘There are a lot of energetic and dynamic elements and also quiet and reflective elements.  We found difference but connections too.’
  • ‘We all believed research is with the entire community – teachers, children and parents.’
  • ‘The process made visible our understandings of research. Interweaving and seeing things from different perspectives was important.

A participant reflection after the workshop:

  • “Teachers as Researchers has to be one of the most worthwhile Professional Development sessions I have done in recent times. It really highlighted just how crucial real and meaningful research that is rooted in our values is…The opportunity to work not only with the excellent presenters but also colleagues from a variety of settings was inspiring. Links were made to the Australian context and I have gone back to my Centre with a greater understanding of the important role we play in really understanding and documenting how our children learn, think and wonder – real research! As someone who has worked with the Reggio Emilia philosophy for many years I found this PD practical and challenging. It has been the spark to reignite some fires…thank you!”