REAIE2015 brought together over 1200 professionals. Some we knew; others we were still to meet. We came from the furthest reaches of Australia. We were educators, managers, exhibiters, writers, artists and students. But we had a common thread that joined us all – our passion for the pedagogy of Reggio Emilia and our deep seated belief in the hundred languages of children.

I found a heightened sense of inspiration from the keynote presentation by Claudia Giudici which talked about “aesthetic vibration as a learning activator; the pleasure of learning and the search for beauty creating connections.”

As Claudia spoke about the way grafica, mark making and drawing, and words mutually define each other I could feel the connections between the research and pedagogy of Reggio Emilia and my own practices at pre-school. Many aspects of Claudia’s presentation were not unfamiliar concepts however they provoked a sense of deeper understanding in me; the desire to look at my own practice with a new lens.

As I read back over my conference jottings I’m taken back to the plenary; back to those moments when a theatre filled with people absorbed the glimpses into the Reggio Emilia pedagogy:

Children are the authors of their own processes

Go beyond the dominance of spoken language; give equal dignity to every way of knowing about the world.

Processes of communication are processes of knowledge.

As Wendy Shepherd said upon leaving this session: “it was honey for the soul”.

The opportunity to visit early education and care services was a privilege. My tour visited Pope Road kindergarten in Blackburn and Renown Kindergarten, South Yarra, each services that are historically embedded in their communities.  The passion of each educator as they described their program was abundantly evident and each spoke so strongly to me that each child and adult within the program was valued and nurtured to respond to their world in their own way. Being on the tours allowed time for conversation between participants. I enjoyed hearing the reactions and reflections of many people to the same setting.

The exhibitor displays complimented the conference so very well. I appreciated the opportunity to see and explore resources; to talk with passionate retailers; to meet the artists who passionately shared their work. As I watched one of the retailers from Educational Experience looking out the grand window of the conference centre through a red Perspex block I could see that the creative spirit was certainly in everyone!

The concurrent sessions were particularly invigorating as they introduced some of Australia’s most passionate educators and teams. When the educators spoke about their projects and so generously share their insights and reflections I felt honoured to be present. From my own perspective as an educator, I found that these sessions filled my mind with provocations for the future.

Something that I will keep with me from this experience are the many connections that I made with members of our profession that I have always seen as the movers and shakers; the academics; the authors; the people who have been influences in my career, some from my university days several decades ago! What I found as I was able to share moments with people that I look up to is that we are all in this together. Whether we influence the sector through the books we write, the courses we teach, the organisations we head or the children we teach, we are here to provide each child with the opportunity for the best possible start in life.

Rebecca Boland is the director and early childhood teacher at Clarence Town Pre-school NSW, A CSCM service.  Rebecca has been teaching for more than 20 years and continues to find inspiration in all aspects of our sector. Rebecca is the co-author of Community Child Care Cooperative’s Little Green Spade project curator of the Early Childhood Inspirations blog.

You can read more from Rebecca on her blog http://becc72.blogspot.com.au/ or follow her tweets https://twitter.com/bolands3