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  • Writer's pictureAnnie Pendrey

You Went to a Conference, So What?

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

You have a ticket to a conference, or you are attending a professional development event. This has either been by choice or it has been deemed necessary for you to attend. After glancing at the content of the event, if you are like me you begin to think about the possibilities of a goodie bag and you are hopeful it contains a pen!

As a Nursery Nurse, I was never ‘allowed’ to attend professional development sessions and whilst I hope times have changed, I would spend time reading and accessing any materials I could to further my professional development. These days as a freelance professional, I have the joy and flexibility to choose events to attend and present at.

So, when the opportunity arose to present and be a part of TACTYC (Association for Professional Development in Early Years) Conference in October 2023, I took the opportunity to collect my goodie bag (of course!), connect with others and reflect upon its impact, which led to the title of this blog: ‘You Went to a Conference, So What?’

Professional development as tutors and students is a vital part of our professional identity and professional agency. Professional development should be viewed as an ongoing cycle of acquiring and develo

ping new skills and knowledge and as practitioners, and we should consider and reflect upon how the acquired knowledge can be used in our reflective activism.

At this conference, I presented some of my research and was surrounded by like-minded people within the sector. I didn’t leave with an arm full of books, or with hundreds of new connections. Of course, I made some fabulous new connections, but the point I am making is I left with something I consider much more valuable, I left with a collection of words!

The words I left with are ‘print based learning’, ‘professional confidence’ and ‘stories. These few words intertwined with the words I took along to present, which were, ‘professional identity’, ‘professional agency’ and ‘ikigai’ have since found a home in my reflective journal.

Dr. Karen Boardman’s few words, ‘print based learning’, led me to a debate with a group of degree students studying assessment and learning. As a collective, we used these words to reflect upon our professional practice and this led us to explore alternative pedagogical approaches. All from a few words!

These few words connected beautifully to Lewis Fogarty’s words of ‘professional confidence’ and how as practitioners we develop our professional confidence? What barriers do we face as practitioners in developing our professional confidence? What support do we need? These few words sparked and ignited passion, emotions and debates which are ongoing.

My own collection of words - ‘professional identity’ and ‘professional agency’ - are continuously explored in my PhD studies and with the groups of people I am fortunate to train. At the TACTYC conference I shared a snippet of my work, and this included trying to define professional identity and professional agency.

Professional Identity is not a fixed or static construct, but changes over time through personal and professional development opportunities such as today.

• Professional identity involves the appreciation of your values, beliefs, and standards of the profession.

• Professional identity is about embracing your reason for being, recognising your strengths and continually evolving to meet the demands of your role within education.

• It is your sense of being, belonging and with professional agency YOUR THRIVING!

Professional agency is your ability to influence others, to be autonomous and to be proactive in seeking opportunities for growth.

  • Professional agency is best described as a practitioners’ capacity to construct and act purposefully to both utilise and direct their own professional growth and agency.

Spend some time reflecting upon your professional agency and how you discover your sense of being, how you set and achieve goals, overcome obstacles, and actively shape your professional trajectory.

Use your reflective journal!

This is a blog and not an article, so I will stop here and ask you to think small next time you attend a professional development session or a conference.

Think of the small, powerful collection of words that will offer reflexivity. Take one word, research its meaning, its depth, its provocations and pass this onto others. The power of a few little words!


Please take a look around my website as I have uploaded a new article and Podcache for Cache Alumni.

My next blog is Children’s Well Being and Reflection’.

Contact me via my website for your professional development needs.

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Annie Pendrey
Annie Pendrey
Oct 22, 2023

Thank you for reading and commenting Lisa 📔😊


Oct 22, 2023

listening to others and taking time out to consider the words of others I guess is just as rich as buying books and resources at conferences / events . Simple reflection 🌸

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