Sociology, Early Childhood Education, Health, Wellbeing

Writing New Chapters in Research and Teaching Journeys

October 31, 2018

By Jennifer Fane, Faculty Associate in the Professional Development Program

Engaging in teaching and research can take us on many journeys; sometimes personal, sometimes professional, sometimes geographical. In my case, it has been all three. My teaching journey began at SFU 12 years ago as a PDP student, and my passion for interdisciplinary research and teacher education is what has led me back. After teaching kindergarten in the lower mainland for five years and undertaking a MEd in Health Education at SFU, a passion for engaging in educational research and teacher education led me to make the move to Australia six years ago where I found a home at Flinders University as a Lecturer in Health and Early Childhood Education and a PhD candidate in the Discipline of Public Health.

The opportunity to engage in doctoral research alongside my journey in teaching education has been an exciting one. The synergies between my research into my practice as a teacher educator and my doctoral research into young children’s transition to school have profoundly shaped my understanding  of education and the work of teachers.

My doctoral research seeks to redress the almost complete absences of young children’s voices and understandings of their own wellbeing, and how this impacts upon their transition to formal schooling (link). As co-constructing knowledge with young children is methodologically challenging, I have created and published a participatory visual research method using emoji to engage three-to-five year old children in the process of wellbeing research during an initial pilot study (link). The findings of the pilot study led to the design of a longitudinal study which investigated young children’s understandings and experiences of wellbeing across the transition to school.

My doctoral work and teaching journey continue to be framed by my work as a reflective teacher educator. I have had the opportunity to instigate and be involved in several research projects which sought to understand the challenges student teachers encounter when engaging in socially contextualised ways of thinking and teaching health education, physical education, and early childhood education, and how key considerations for how teacher educators can best support this work (link).

Excitingly, my doctoral research and work in teacher education from the past six years have culminated into the writing and subsequent publication of a book with my colleague, Dr Yarrow Andrew, at Flinders University. The book entitled The Sociology of Early Childhood: Young Children’s Lives and Worlds, published by Routledge, brings a new perspective to the field of early childhood education, offering insights into how children's diverse backgrounds shape their life chances, and how this impacts the work of teachers and educators. Co-writing this book has offered me the opportunity to synthesise my interdisciplinary knowledge of health and early childhood education with how educators can make very real and needed impacts on children’s life long health and wellbeing.

Returning to SFU this fall as a Faculty Associate in the Professional Development Program and joining the SFU’s educational research community has seen my personal, professional and geographical journey come full circle in many ways. I am happy to be ‘home’, and look forward to many new opportunities at SFU while completing my doctoral research.