The special part of NZEALS 2022 for me was bringing people together. From the start of building the (Covid-cancelled) 2020 programme, through to standing at the welcome desk in September 2022, I knew there were some amazing people out there. There was the person who replied to the 2022 call for papers with ‘Gosh yes! I was coming to NZEALS 2020 and I was so excited. Of course, I’ll come’. There was the ever-growing group of international delegates who were keen to share their research findings and their cultures and to immerse themselves in Tūrangawaewae. There were the first-time presenters who said ‘Just put me in if you need to fill a space: it’s not a very important message I have here’ (but of course it was…).
Then, as the delegates started to register: ‘Can I bring my whole Kāhui Ako as a group?’ ‘Can I bring a team from across our ECE provision / across our RTLB?’ (Of course: we wanted groups to experience the conference together so they could continue their conversations into the workplace) ‘Do we have to pay extra for Hobbiton?’ (No, our conference dinner is always included in the full fee, so people don’t have to miss out).
And then we all arrived, keen to share our thinking, to learn from research and from leadership experience and to deepen our understanding of what Tūrangawaewae might mean. As a retired Professor of Educational Leadership, this for me is at the heart of leadership learning: to have time and space to weave disparate strands of experience and knowledge, to make sense of them in our own leadership contexts. To gain inspiration and insight that persists into the practical every-day and guides it: for me that is more valuable than reading someone’s ‘top tips’ for leaders or trying to follow the latest leadership trend.
We were all hungry to meet; we had a great venue, inspirational speakers and a ‘family outing’ to Hobbiton on a perfect evening. But what made it special was all the people, mingling, sharing, learning. Worth every minute…
I can’t wait for Christchurch in 2024!