Early Childhood Professional Learning

Evening Lectures

Individual Lecture: $45 per teacher | $30 per full-time student

*Season Pass (10 lectures): $290 per teacher | $210 per full-time student 

*The Season Pass may be used by one teacher to attend all sessions (please read terms and conditions regarding refunds).

Lectures will be held from February to November during the second week of each month (except April, when they will be held during the first week).

Hamilton: Tuesdays, 7-9pm, at the University of Waikato, Hillcrest Road - see below lecture details for rooms

Auckland: Wednesdays, 7-9pm, at the University of Auckland Epsom Campus - Room J-101


Click here to download a flyer for printing and sharing with your team


Te Whāriki: Tracking progress in early childhood learning in April
Wendy Lee, Educational Leadership Project, with teachers from Roskill South Kindergarten


In the latest version of ‘Weaving Te Whāriki’, we explored the notion of tracking learning progress within the principles of Te Whāriki. Why is this essential? Firstly, Te Whāriki (English version, 2017 p.7) emphasises the development of knowledge, skills, attitudes and dispositions that support lifelong learning.” As global citizens in a rapidly changing and increasingly connected world, children need to be adaptive, creative and resilient. They need to learn ‘how to learn’ so that they can engage with new contexts, opportunities and challenges. Progress is therefore about becoming a ‘life-long learner’.  But the learning described in Te Whāriki is also multi-faceted and complex. Knowledge, skills, attitudes and dispositions are all woven and entangled together. Hence, we need to address the notion of assessing progress without being prescriptive in ways that separate knowledge or skills into discrete baskets that then damage and destroy the interconnected weavings and entanglements. 

This lecture will be an opportunity to explore what ‘progress’ looks like within the context of our socio-cultural curriculum Te Whāriki. We introduce notions about ‘what progress is’ in early childhood, and we include some of our findings to illustrate and support these notions. 

Wendy is the director of Educational Leadership Project Ltd. and was previously co-director of the Early Childhood Learning and Assessment National Exemplar Project 'Kei Tua o te Pae'. Wendy has over 45 years of experience in early childhood education. In recent years, Wendy has worked as a researcher with Professor Margaret Carr on a number of projects including: the Assessment in Early Childhood Settings Research Project; the Marsden Project Dispositions in a Social Context; and the Centre of Innovation Projects with Roskill South Kindergarten and Greerton ELC. She is also a co-director on the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative Project - "Learning Wisdom". Wendy has authored several papers and books.

Uncertain Teachers and the Empowerment Principle in May
Emeritus Professor Margaret Carr, University of Waikato

Tuesday 12 May: Hamilton - Room MSB1.01, University of Waikato, Hillcrest Road
Wednesday 13 May: Auckland - Room J.1.01, University of Auckland Epsom Campus

There is some evidence that when teachers express uncertainty during conversations with young children, the children will often respond in thoughtful and creative ways.  Perhaps this is because it is just another way to give the children an opportunity to express their own ideas: the Te Whāriki principle of empowerment/whakamana in action. This lecture will use examples from research in Aotearoa New Zealand to explore teachers’ conversation strategies with young children and, in this way, to consider empowerment and whakamana in practice. 

Margaret is a Professor of Education at the Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research at the University of Waikato. She was Co-Director of the New Zealand Early Childhood Curriculum Development project that developed the national curriculum, Te Whāriki, published in 1996. After Te Whāriki was published, she researched in five different early childhood settings – a childcare centre, a kindergarten, a playcentre, a kōhanga reo and a home-based setting to develop, with the teachers, Learning Stories as a narrative assessment practice that was aligned with the sociocultural focus of Te Whāriki. Since then she has researched and published widely on issues of curriculum and assessment in the early years.

Understanding where our children’s feet stand in June
He mōhiotanga mo te tūrangawaewae ō ngā tamariki
Lynn Rupe, Educational Leadership Project

Tuesday 9 June: Hamilton - Room S.G.01, University of Waikato, Hillcrest Road
Wednesday 10 June: Auckland - Room J.1.01, University of Auckland Epsom Campus

Learning and teaching in Aotearoa honours Te Tiriti o Waitangi in an authentic and respectful ways that support positive outcomes for all children. When teachers deeply embed the knowledge of Māori as Tangata whenua this should be reflected throughout the professional life of the centre. What might this look like in your centre?

Lynn is particularly passionate about community and relationships, with the view that assessment, especially Learning Stories, can bring about a deeper connectedness between those within the early childhood community. Lynn knows that research shows that collaboration between the parent, the child and the teacher creates a multiple perspective of the early childhood setting - which allows for deeper, more meaningful learning for all involved, and endeavors to instill this notion of multiple perspectives into her own practice and the practice of others.

Do you know me? Can I trust you? Do you let me fly? Do you hear me? Is this place fair for us? in July
Lorraine Sands, Educational Leadership Project

Tuesday 7 July: Hamilton - Room MSB1.01, University of Waikato, Hillcrest Road
Wednesday 8 July: Auckland - Room J.1.01, University of Auckland Epsom Campus

These questions (Carr, 2000), so poignantly phrased from a child’s perspective,  speak to the essence of participatory pedagogies that focus on a sense of belonging and wellbeing for individual children, inside a community of learners who care deeply for each other.  They touch the hearts of pedagogues because they are questions that really matter if we are to ensure each and every child fulfils their potential  to grow as ‘competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society’ (Te Whāriki, Ministry of Education, New Zealand, 1996, 2017).

Rarely does learning happen in isolation from others, and when we see learning as connection, we begin to understand how relationships must envelop and protect each child’s growing identity as a learner.  Pedagogues who write about the edgy, open ended learning that happens as children play, powerfully contribute to children’s views. In the process, children build an understanding of themselves as learners who don’t give up; as learners who like to trial innovative ideas, as learners who enjoy the stimulation of tricky, challenging goals and the camaraderie generated through playing together. 

Building a collaborative community, within a socio-cultural framework, is not a prescribed policy. It is a dynamic, interactive enterprise that relies on the interconnectivity of setting and relationships. However, it takes brave pedagogues to step outside policies prescribed for them, and instead connect with children, families and their colleagues, to grow  collaborative communities where children’s lifelong learning identities are able to flourish.

Lorraine Sands is a Professional Learning Facilitator at Educational Leadership Project. In this role she works alongside teachers in a wide range of early childhood settings, particularly to strengthen teaching teams’ pedagogical engagement with the principles, strands and goals of Te Whāriki, and to be able to measure their effectiveness through Internal Evaluation, embedded in inquiry research. She supports teachers to use thoughtfully constructed Learning Stories to track children’s learning in ways that contribute to their identities as life long learners. She has written many journal articles focused on strategies to nurture children’s identities as capable, confident learners in action, fully immersed in play.

Healing stories in August
Julie Killick, Chelsea Kindergarten

Tuesday 11 August: Hamilton - Room MSB1.01, University of Waikato, Hillcrest Road
Wednesday 12 August: Auckland - Room J.1.01, University of Auckland Epsom Campus

Stories shape our lives! Our stories of the past, present and future. Learning Stories are a powerful tool to support positive learner identities, they also illuminate our contexts and relationships. The role of the story teller is a powerful one, and we are all story tellers. Some years ago I was a performer in Playback theatre and also did some work with Facilitated role play. In both of these domains we worked with peoples stories. Sometimes the story endings were adjusted or new roles experimented with for therapeutic befits. I have been inspired by Susan Perro’s book “Therapeutic Storytelling” and have written some healing stories for the children I work with who have experienced some upset or trauma. These have included stories to help with transition to school, nightmares and death. In this lecture I will share my learning journey with writing Healing stories. We will look at the role of metaphor and how to craft a healing story. Please bring paper and a pen you enjoy writing with for the workshop part of the evening.

Julie has been a Kindergarten teacher since the early eighties. For about fourteen years during that period she has worked in adult education, including six years as a facilitator with ELP. For the last three years she has been Head Teacher at Chelsea Kindergarten. Julie is wildy passionate about teaching, and writing Learning Stories is a big love.

The relationship is key: Moving past dominant rhetoric, moving towards authentic and relational encounters with infants and toddlers, and re-framing  dialogue in September
Anita Homewood and Nicky de Lautour, Educational Leadership Project

Tuesday 8 September: Hamilton - Room MSB1.01, University of Waikato, Hillcrest Road
Wednesday 9 September: Auckland - Room J.1.01, University of Auckland Epsom Campus

As kaiako, we strongly believe that ‘responsive and reciprocal’, respectful relationships between teachers and infants and toddlers are the central force within a specialised pedagogical  framework, but contend that it is timely to consider other constructs within these complex multi layered relationships. “Articulating the interwoven relational, emotional, and intellectual threads of caregiving is often difficult, as the practice of caring is often assumed rather than named’ (Elliot, 2007).

We have been reframing our thinking around the relationship dynamic between infant, toddler and kaiako, and beyond the spiritual and emotional boundaries that underpin an attachment relationship. The kaiako as an attachment figure has been widely accepted within the discourse of infant and toddler care and education, but a deeper analysis of this is invited from the participants in the lecture and time will be given for discussion. Anita will make connections to her own teaching and work with infants and toddlers, and Nicky will draw on her recent teaching at a tertiary institute and her review of current literature and theory.

We will examine what it means to be intentional teachers, to consider the relational encounters we share every day with infants and toddlers and other kaiako, and also look at possibilities to offer more complex  opportunities for learning, connection, and discovery. We will make links to Te Whāriki, (MOE, 2017) and examine the implications and future considerations for infants and toddlers in a curriculum focussed on an ‘ethic of care’ and beyond. An invitation for constant reflection and inquiry into the pedagogy and practice  of teaching with infants and toddlers is  encouraged, and examples will be shared and lively discussions encouraged. 

Anita has been working in Early Childhood for over 20 years, enjoying opportunities to grow her teaching philosphy. She has experience in all aspects of ECE, working as a teacher, and in leadership and curriculum development. Anita is passionate about supporting teachers in their teaching learning journeys, strengthening their practice and inspiring them to grow as professionals.

Nicky’s strengths and research interests have been around the Arts in ECE and the adult’s role in children’s learning and she has published and presented nationally and internationally in this area. More recently she was a co researcher looking at ‘Transition to School’ from a community crèche in a longitudinal study and this has further cemented her perspectives on a child-centred, play based curriculum as a powerful basis for teachers who inspire, provoke, and foster curiosity and a love of learning through play. This has been informed by neuroscience, and recent and current theoretical knowledge and perspectives, where it is accepted that children’s brain development is the most accelerated and rapid in the first three years. Armed with this knowledge then should become a powerful determinant of how we provide for children within our early childhood settings and teach from a place of love with our heart, hands and minds. 

What we teach is who we are: Teachers’ identity stories of belonging using teacher identity portfolio as a pedagogical tool in October
Mihaela Enache, University of Auckland

Tuesday 13 October: Hamilton - Room MSB1.01, University of Waikato, Hillcrest Road
Wednesday 14 October: Auckland - Room J.1.01, University of Auckland Epsom Campus

The newly revised early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki, states that teachers respond to the changing demographics “by valuing and supporting the different cultures represented in their settings” (MoE, 2017, p.3). I propose that the first step we, teachers, can take towards valuing and supporting different cultural identities is by understanding and being secure in our own cultural identity/ies. Sonja Arndt (2017) emphasises the crucial positioning of early childhood teachers in society, through their vital influence on young lives, and the urgent need of early childhood teachers’ reconceptualisations of their own selves. A permanent engagement with authenticity and re/connection with the self in teaching, with who teachers are in their personal and professional lives, is vital within a stable teaching career (Johnson, Down, Le Cornu, Peters, Sullivan, Pearce, Hunter, 2015; Palmer & Christison, 2007). By knowing who we are and where we come from, we can engage with our students more authentically and more meaningfully, and we are more likely to affirm and consolidate students’ origins and sense of self, and promote positive identity/ies development (Jenlink, 2014b; Cherrington & Shuker, 2012). 

This lecture will introduce teacher identity portfolio (TIP) as a tool for teachers to re/connect with themselves, first and foremost, and consequently with children, families/whanau and the communities they belong to. TIP has been developed during my PhD studies as a practical pedagogical tool with multiple roles, the most valuable ones being perhaps those of empowering teachers to value their past and origins and reinforcing their sense of belonging within their centres. TIP is also a tool for making teachers’ presence more visible within EC education, introducing teachers’ personal stories as a way of better understanding, valuing and writing children’s learning stories.

Mihaela has been a teacher and researcher in early childhood, primary and tertiary studies since 1986. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Auckland. Having immigrated to New Zealand in 2001, she found a passion in culture and diversity studies, teacher identity and volunteer work in the community. Her research areas of interest are also related to migration, dialogical self theory, hybridity, nostalgia, critical autoethnography, community studies, and traditional arts and crafts. She founded and coordinated the Romanian School in Auckland (2009 - 2011) and has coordinated the Folk Dancing group Doina since 2013. She contributes to radio talk shows on Planet FM and Radio Romania International. Mihaela promotes first/native language acquisition and cultural identity/ies affirmation, as ways of creating a culturally responsive pedagogy and a more accepting and inclusive society.

Fostering connection through environments in November
Fran Paniora, Auckland Kindergarten Assoc

Tuesday 10 November: Hamilton - Room MSB1.01, University of Waikato, Hillcrest Road
Wednesday 11 November: Auckland - Room J.1.01, University of Auckland Epsom Campus

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris

How does one’s teaching beliefs and values replicate in the spaces in which you invite children to come and play? In this presentation Fran Paniora will share some of her influences, values and ways of creating spaces where both the adult and child are supported to explore and be curious about this ‘beautiful’ world. 

Awaking the environment from within….

Fran has been teaching for 20 plus years in a range of early childhood services both in private and public kindergartens (presently a Head Teacher at Auckland Kindergarten Association). A particular passion is recycling, repurposing and reinterpreting materials for use in new and interesting ways. When children are engaged in this process they become researchers, investigators and have ownership of such spaces.



Just some of the fabulous feedback received from previous lectures:

"...you present such insightful and indepth content and I think as teachers that it is important for us to hear and to be reminded about children's capacity to learn".

"This was so relateable and was presented in a way that was understandable. I loved it! Thank you :)"

"What food for thought. I felt very supported by your lecture. I love your growth mindset and feel empowered by what you shared. You are so easy to listen to and kept my attention, well done. ELP lectures really empower and support my teaching. Thank you".

"Bring back the life' WOW, I love listening to you sharing your views. You get very excited about where we are taking ECE".

"Another brilliant lecture, you spoke of such wonderful ways of engaging with our tamariki. Wow, outstanding team ELP, another meaningful, deep and informative lecture - can't wait for the next one, thank you"


11th and 12th February: Te Whāriki - By Us, For Us, About Us
Brenda Soutar, Mana Tamariki 


"Competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society." 
How can our ways of knowing, being and doing authentically reflect this aspiration we have for children in Aotearoa?
Some feedback from this lecture: 

"Your generous sharing has given me confidence to keep going, to continue to strive to do more...you have come too far not to go further, you know too much not to know more"

"What an absolute joy and true honour to listen to you. You are a toanga and I have been privileged to have been inspired by you and you are my inspiration"

"This lecture was beautiful and real, passion came through so easily, which made this lecture memorable and a sense of privilege to listen to such an incredible speaker"

Pōwhiri: Strengthening a Sense of Bicultural Belonging and Identity for Refugee Families in March
Dr Lesley Rameka, University of Waikato

10th and 11th March


The presentation explores how pōwhiri, the traditional Māori ceremony of welcome, can provide a framing to support refugee children and families develop a sense of bicultural belonging and identity in Aotearoa, New Zealand while maintaining a sense of belonging and identity to their home homelands. Each step of the powhiri process is key to developing theoretical understandings and will be articulated in terms of guiding early childhood kaiako practice and pedagogies. The framing is also useful for informing ECE teacher pedagogical practice when working with all children.

This presentation is part of a three year, Marsden funded research project, led by Professor Linda Mitchell, from Waikato University, aimed at developing a theoretical model, and strategies, that can contribute to policy and practice in early childhood education to support refugee families and children to construct a sense of belonging in NZ.

Some feedback from this lecture:

"Ngā mihi nui ki a koe e te rangatira he kaupapa whakahirahira tēnei - karawhiua ki te ao!"

"We found this lecture one of the most valuable we have attended.....Wonderful unpacking! Beautifully delivered and explained! Authentic deliver and content, truly motivating and inspirational!! Thank you so much :)"

"Dr Rameka gave me a sense of belonging and to understand the meaning and relevance of 'powhiri' and it's rituals. To learn about 'mana' and how to offer respect in the centre and what we do as teachers".