A Speech To Inspire Our Teachers Out There

Recently, I was invited to deliver the Vote of Thanks on behalf of the under- and post-graduates at our graduation ceremony.

After googling what a vote of thanks was, I accepted the opportunity. (It’s pretty much a chance to say thanks to our families and the staff…unsurprisingly).

In the end, what I discovered is that usually the main focus is on students thanking their lecturers, tutors, families and friends for supporting them through their degree. All very important, yes.


I also needed to thank all of those bachelors, doctorate, masters, graduate certificate and diploma recipients for choosing to help shape the future and lead within our classrooms and schools.

Truth be told, I wanted to remind every single person there that teaching and education is awesome, incredible and life changing.

Without further ado, here’s the speech, as a video and then in text.

If you watch/read this and think of a specific teacher, family member or friend who would appreciate it- share it. You have no idea how much teachers need to be reminded of the impact and good they are doing right now – and will do in the future.

Our Graduate Vote of Thanks

My name is Daniel Steele – not the 60ish female author – and I have the honour of delivering our Graduate Vote of Thanks.

I’m not sure if everyone else has realised just how amazing the group within this space is. We all collectively understand something that is so powerful and life changing: education.

Incredible, awesome, rewarding.
(Yes, and tiring. Especially after a lunch time yard duty in a Prep Yard on a Friday afternoon).

No matter what we may hear within the media. No matter what that friend of yours may say. No matter how many times we may hear people simplifying or misunderstanding our impact as a profession.

Until they have been there in that moment watching a student, colleague or a family member break out into that amazing “Ahhhh-I’ve-Got-It-Now-Smile”, they will never truly know how incredible teaching and education is.

Right now, it can feel like not enough people realise just how important teaching is for everyone. That they are still unaware that teaching really is the parent of all professions, skills and abilities.

It isn’t those who can’t do, teach.
It is those who can do, should thank a teacher.
That’s why we need all of you.

You are special. The very fact you chose to challenge yourself and extend your knowledge means there is something within you; wanting to unleash and empower the potential within those students, teachers, schools, systems and government out there.

Interestingly enough word educate, which originated from Latin, doesn’t simply mean “to teach”. It actually had two meanings, depending on the ending you chose to use. Educare and educere.

Educare, meant to lead or draw something out, while educere, was used when speaking of moulding or training someone.
Even from its early days, the role of educators has been to not only mould and shape the future, but to lead and draw out the potential within others.

The graduates of today, you are both kinds of educators.

Sculptors and leaders.

You are a special group.

But truth be told… I think it’s safe to say, we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for a certain person or group of people who helped us.

Take a moment right now, if they’re here scan for that face, catch their eye and give them that knowing smile of gratitude and thanks. If they’re not here, smile as you recall the words or looks of encouragement they sent your way.

Or the times they reminded you that maybe you just needed to suck it up and do that final reading and stop complaining. (It wouldn’t be a degree without a little bit of whinging around 11pm at night during the working week).

Whether it was through intensive weeks and weekends, online modules, or attending full-time or part-time, sacrifices have been made to get to this day today

Our brilliant families and ACU staff – you’ve been our greatest supporters. While at times it may have felt like we were working so hard; missing out on other events, reading until words merged into one another and writing into the night, you all sacrificed your time and energy to help us get here.

That time and energy can never be repaid.
For that, we say thank you.

Whilst saying thank you is only made up of two words, and can be so easy to say, when we say it, we are telling you so much more:
Thank you for allowing us to flourish.

Thank you for helping us to achieve and be something great.

Thank you for all those times you turned on the kettle…I’m pretty sure the water bill quadrupled.

Thank you for pushing us and recognising that potential within us.

Thank you for planting those seeds of knowledge and new perspectives that have continued to grow.

Thank you for the care you have shown us every single day simply by being there…you have no idea how much we’ve needed that.
Thank you for deftly navigating us when we were either hangry or hitting maximum essay fatigue… the ice cream, beer, wine and/or tea always helped.

Thank you for sharing your patience, knowledge and understanding so we could increase ours.

Thank you.

But, don’t get me wrong.

Graduates, you are all legends.

No one else wrote those papers, trawled the physical and digital libraries and scoffed dinner before just a little bit more reading. No one else navigated those halls to get to a lecture for you.

All of those extra commitments balanced amongst those essays, readings and lectures.

That was you.

You pretty much juggled sixteen balls while snowboarding blindfolded down Mount Buller.

You did that.

Thank yourselves and acknowledge what you have accomplished. Let’s even take a moment and mentally high five ourselves…and the person next to you.

Thank you for what you have done and will do as those incredible sculptors and leaders.
Congratulations, well done and bring on our next great adventures.

Thanks must further go to my mum for filming the speech…even without her glasses (I think the zoom may have helped her).


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