Pro-Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Fellow Graduates, it is a great honour to represent the School of Education’s Class of 2016 as graduate speaker.
This is a time to reflect upon the 4-year journey that we have just finished, which represents what at times, has been one the most challenging and rewarding experiences of our lives as we now start our journeys as the custodians of our nation’s youth and future.
Our presence here is a testament to each persons’ perseverance and strength of character; whether we are the ones graduating or whether you are in the cheer squad on behalf of those graduating. It is important to thank those present and those who could not be here tonight, for your support over the last 4 years and (hopefully) their continued support for the years to come.
It is through our time at ECU that we have made lifelong friends with people that have supported and inspired us to grow and succeed. Many of whom will continue to be an important part of our lives for years to come. I would personally like to thank the amazing friends that I have made throughout my journey. I it has been a pleasure to study with so many passionate people in my secondary course and to work with amazing volunteers through groups such as Network Teach, that have been my continued inspiration to complete my studies and be the great teacher I hope to be. Hopefully the summer holidays have provided each us with the time to reflect upon these meaningful memories and the valuable skills and assets that we have collected at ECU that will we will all need to succeed in our first year as qualified teachers.
We have grown considerably throughout the course and we can reflect on the differences in who we are now as opposed to when we began. I started off at WAAPA studying music and a year after completing my course, I started my degree to teach History, which has turned out to be one of the most important decisions of my life, although I didn’t know it at the time. And it was ECU that provided me with the platform to grow and extend myself to become the person talking to you now.
In time to come we will laugh at the memories from our time at ECU. Such as the many internal (or not so internal) negotiations we have had with ourselves; on whether to study, sleep, work an extra shift or two this week or simply stare and think about nothing for minute; only to end up hanging out with a friend or spending an hour scrolling through Facebook. Which lead to the inevitable conclusion of studying at an ungodly hour wondering if you will even make it to today’s ceremony.
It is also through our shared experiences on prac, we have all developed a bond and understanding of the trials of teaching. Whether it is attempts to please a classroom full of kids, our mentor, our supervisor, and at some point, find the time to do what we want as teachers. Pulling everything we have to wow everyone at once for a good mark or simply trying to overcome the pressure of having a bad day and hoping you can get things back on track for your supervisor’s next visit….all while powered by a lack of sleep and a dangerous amount of caffeine. Not that has stopped now that I have graduated, the running joke at my new workplace is that no one can anything out of me until I have had my morning coffees…. Yes, plural, coffees.
It is also through this time on prac that I have personally had some of my most rewarding and funny experiences of my degree. Whilst I was teaching in China, I had a student draw a very realistic pencil sketch of me as a leaving gift, which upon telling one of my classes at my ATP school about this,
resulted in a Year 10 boy drawing my face across a variety of school whiteboards to see if he could one-up her. One of which happened to be on a whiteboard as I entered a room with a senior teacher for a meeting, which you can imagine, was fun to explain. Another experience that deserves a brief mention includes when a fellow graduate and I were flown to Karratha for one night to talk to a cohort of primary students transitioning to high school about achieving life goals and success in life. However, as we soon discovered, their greatest fear boiled down to one issue only, the humoured threat of older students putting them in rubbish bins just for fun.
So before we dive head first into the new year, take the time to reflect upon the great experiences we have all had at ECU and on prac; and how we are now equipped to start our careers as teachers and to continue our part in being a force for positive change and growth in the world. I would like to wish each person in this room good luck for the year ahead and to remind you all, that despite the challenges we will all face, we haven’t made it this far by a fluke, we have each earnt our place in the teaching world.
Congratulations on hitting this significant milestone and welcome to the teaching profession! Thank you.
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