1st Edition

Unlocking Practitioner Inquiry Growing Professionally in Early Years Education

    238 Pages 35 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    238 Pages 35 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Key components of practitioner inquiry provide an effective approach to lasting educational change. By including narratives of practice from across diverse early childhood settings, this book investigates issues that arise during implementation of inquiry-focussed professional learning cycles. It presents practitioner inquiry as a vehicle for empowering educators and educational systems.

    Research-based, this book brings together theory and practice from authors and internationally recognised commentators to inform and inspire early childhood educators. Chapters are thematically grouped in three focus areas. The first centres on background contextual information to set the scene, the second offers real-life stories based on authors’ experiences and the third provides insight into broader issues of leadership and professional learning. Voices of educators, teachers and leaders are included to provide multiple points of entry for readers with different interests, backgrounds, and levels of expertise.

    As a resource to support ongoing professional practice in the prior-to-school sector, this book is essential reading for early years educators, teachers and leaders of educational change. It is relevant for those investigating how educators in early childhood centres, executive offices and consultancy positions can use data-based, locally relevant investigations of practice to improve educational outcomes.

    Introduction: Inviting engagement

    Alma Fleet, Katey De Gioia, Marina Papic and Catherine Patterson 

    Part 1: Setting the Scene

    1. Practitioner inquiry: Processes, potentials and purposes 

    Catherine Patterson

    2. What is a useful question? 

    Marina Papic

    3. Evidence for change: Finding and analysing data 

    Katey De Gioia

    4. Practitioner inquiry as a tool for meeting and moving beyond regulatory requirements for teachers

    Katey De Gioia

    Part 1 Commentary: Supporting the transformative potential of practitioner inquiry in early years’ contexts

    Nicole Mockler

    Part 2: Sharing Stories of Experience 

    5. Unpacking complexity in complex environments 

    Alma Fleet

    6. Stories from the classroom: School-based change through an inquiry-based approach

    Anthony Semann and Leanne Armao  

    7. ‘Forming’ ourselves as teacher~researchers

    Chris Celada and Margo Hobba

    8. What matters: Participant voices in a year of sustained professional learning

    Diti Hill-Denee (with Helen Aitken)

    Part 2 Commentary: Experiences of meaning-full practitioner inquiry

    Maria Cooper

    Part 3: Exploring big ideas 

    9. Unexpected opportunities: Inquiry as professional learning

    Catherine Patterson and Katey De Gioia

    10. Intersections of pedagogical documentation and practitioner inquiry 

    Alma Fleet, Adam Christie and Jessica Dubois 

    11. Effecting positive change: The role of educational leaders 

    Marina Papic

    12. Practitioner research as sustainable professional practice 

    Christine Woodrow and Linda Newman

    Part 3 Commentary: Growing Professionally

    Andrew Stremmel

    Conclusion: Thinking together

    Katey De Gioia, Alma Fleet, Marina Papic and Catherine Patterson 


    Katey De Gioia describes herself as first and foremost an early childhood teacher. She has appreciated the opportunity to take on leadership roles across a variety of educational institutions throughout her career. Katey has adopted practitioner inquiry to lead evidence informed change to practice.

    Alma Fleet is an experienced teacher and teacher educator who enjoys consultancies with teachers in diverse settings and locations, particularly focusing on practitioner inquiry and pedagogical documentation as vehicles of educational change. She has enjoyed leadership and research roles at Macquarie University and has valued her time with Aboriginal colleagues.

    Catherine Patterson has recently retired from working with student teachers at the Institute of Early Childhood, Macquarie University. Her research into practitioner inquiry has enabled her to support experienced educators and leaders in re-thinking their daily practices with children and adults.

    Marina Papic is Professor of Early Childhood Education and Mathematics Education at the Australian Catholic University. Marina has worked in the education sector for 35 years and has held various teaching, academic and leadership roles. Her research focuses on teacher professional learning in mathematics curriculum and pedagogy and early numeracy.

    ‘The key to educational improvement in early childhood lies in inquiring and puzzling, hypothesising and evaluating. These experienced authors have delivered a book enhancing the inner strengths and wisdom of practitioners to inspire and lead change in their unique contexts.’ 

    Dr Sandra Cheeseman, CEO, Créche & Kindergarten Association, Queensland, Australia.