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Honorary Associate Professor, Department of Educational Studies, Macquarie University, Australia
As an Honorary Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Studies, Macquarie University, Sydney, Dr. Fleet supports a range of educational change initiatives. Having begun her teaching career as a Grade Six teacher in California, Alma has worked in the early childhood sector in Australia and the UK over several decades, as a teacher, teacher educator and education consultant. Her early experiences in Saudi Arabia and Scotland have also contributed to her understanding. Her practical experiences lead her to an ongoing interest in issues associated with early literacy development and the transition to school as well as tensions between constraints and opportunities in educational settings. She enjoys working with educators who are thoughtful about their practices and curious about educational change across age groups in a wide range of settings, as well as supervising and publishing with Doctoral students. Dr. Fleet publishes with colleagues, including Engaging with Educational Change: Voices of Practitioner Inquiry (Bloomsbury, 2016) and exploring pedagogical documentation (writing and editing with Patterson & Robertson in 2006/2012, Pademelon; and Pedagogical Documentation in Early Years Practice 2017, SAGE). Her work is informed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island colleagues, as well as by the educators in Reggio Emilia. Her research findings (which she shares at national and international conferences) include the importance of collaborative inquiry, intellectual rigour, and infrastructure support in initiating and sustaining education initiatives.
Situated somewhere between action research and critically reflective practice, the concept of professional inquiry is emerging as a keystone of professional behaviour. Often positioned as practitioner inquiry in the field of educational change (see Fleet, DeGioia, Patterson, 2016), this attitude to professionalism can have a profound effect on individuals, teams, organisations, and ultimately on both the wellbeing of the workforce and the outcomes intended within a particular sector. This approach to professional decisions also strengthens the engagement of those committing to addressing challenges while repositioning constraints. Such sustainable processes may be embedded in any educational site or organisation in order to nurture ethical praxis. Such a stance acknowledges that ‘Quality’ is a slippery concept accepted as an ever-evolving goal rather than a fixed end-point, and that ‘Leadership’ includes visionary decision-making as well as collaborative engagement. Similarly, an attitude of intellectual curiosity needs to be integrated with a sense of place/appreciation of context to contribute meaningfully to ongoing educational growth. Taken from the perspective of the Local Interpretation of Larger Ideas (LILI), participants will be invited to consider the components of practitioner inquiry within a range of educational contexts. This presentation will identify relevant principles, offer some examples of practice and raise provocations associated with this approach to contextualised problem-solving.