PM Trudeau's remarks during Awards for Teaching Excellence & Excellence in Early Childhood Education
Thanks, Nav, for that introduction. Thank you for all being here today. Bonjour à tous.
Before moving on to something more pleasant, let me first say that I was impatiently waiting for this day. Many people asked me over the years whether I became Prime Minister out of a sense of obligation to my father… whether I just wanted an opportunity to serve the country at the highest levels, but I can -- now that the election is safely behind me -- confirm that I just wanted to become Prime Minister so I could present the Prime Minister’s Teaching Awards for Excellence.
(Laughter & applause)
It took 23 years to get a prime minister who is also a teacher, and I’m certainly going to enjoy this one. I couldn’t help but get excited when I saw this event in my schedule because any chance I get to talk with and interact with other teachers is a good day in my books.
Some of you may know that I am a teacher, actually -- I don’t think many of you could have missed it because those attack ads were in heavy rotation over the past few years. But I really found it so crazy that my opponents would choose to use that as a slight against me. I am so exceptionally proud of having been a teacher, and regardless of whatever job titles I may hold throughout the course of my life, I will always be first and foremost a teacher.
Because we all know that being a teacher is fundamental to who you are when you’re a teacher. You never stop being a teacher—it’s in our blood. And as we honour some of the most outstanding teachers in the field today, we see some familiar traits. Because while all teachers are different, all great teachers have a few things in common.
Great teachers are curious. They are constantly searching for new knowledge, new ways of explaining tough concepts, and new ways to engage their students. Great teachers are compassionate. They understand that what works for one student may not work for another. They understand that young people are not just students, they all have unique stories and struggles that require a different kind of attention. Great teachers are guides, not lecturers. They ask the right questions and empower their students to find the right answers.
Fundamentally, great teachers understand that they are not answerable to the board that hires them, or to the parents and community that supports them, the great teachers are responsible, yes, to the students they serve every single day, but they are most responsible to something that doesn’t even exist yet.
Great teachers are ultimately accountable to the society that will be peopled by the citizens they create every day in their classroom, and that sense of ambition, of having an extraordinary impact on the world that we get to build every day in the classroom, is both an awesome responsibility and a humbling opportunity.
Today, these qualities are being showcased. It’s an honour for me to present these teaching awards to inspiring leaders. Leaders who demonstrate excellence every day. There is no question that you change lives. I know that our children are in good hands with people like the ones we are celebrating here, together.