Archived — Exemplary Practices 2013
2013 marked the 20th anniversary of the Prime Minister's Awards (PMA) for Teaching Excellence. Running in parallel, since 2002, the PMAs for Excellence in Early Childhood Education (ECE) have honoured remarkable educators from across Canada. This incredible journey has involved over 1,600 award recipients from all provinces and territories, five prime ministers, more than 1,200 schools and centres, thousands of students, and an unquantifiable amount of passion and dedication that has already been passed on to another generation. Highlights of this two decades-long celebration of excellence in education can be found in a short video.
The Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence honour outstanding and innovative elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines who instil in their students a love of learning and who utilize information and communications technologies to better equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to excel in a 21st century society and economy. The Prime Minister's Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education honour exceptional ECEs who excel at fostering the early development and socialization of the children in their care, and at helping build the foundation young children need to make the best possible start in life. Each recipient's biography highlights the innovative practices of some of Canada's most inspirational educators.
Educators may receive one of two Prime Minister's Awards: the Certificate of Excellence (national) and the Certificate of Achievement (regional). Certificate of Excellence winners are brought to Ottawa to receive their award from the Prime Minister and to participate in a variety of activities, perhaps most importantly, to share their innovative ideas and best teaching practices.
This sharing takes place in a forum open to other educators called "Teacher Talk". Topics for discussion are drawn from recipient's nomination packages and are based on what they feel are their best and most transferable teaching practices. Reflecting the growing trend in Canada toward integration, recipients of both the PMA for Teaching Excellence and for Excellence in Early Childhood Education took part in the same forum this year. Topics for 2013 were: Using Technology to Connect and Empower; Teaching to Inspire and Engage; Enabling Success in all Students; The Language of Learning; and, Teaching beyond the Classroom. Summaries of these best practices, as well as links for the resources these educators use regularly in their classrooms and childcare centres can be found in this publication.
As unique as each of the 2013 recipients are, what they all share in common is a tremendous passion for teaching and an incredible commitment to the students and children in their care. The final speaker of the day, teaching excellence recipient Gina Wong, summed up her fellow speaker's stories with the following found poem drawn from their presentations:
Everything worth doing is worth doing well.
Create a living classroom by creating a sense of belonging.
The Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence and Excellence in Early Childhood Education are administered by Industry Canada in partnership with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, Health Canada, The Public Health Agency of Canada, and with the generous support of the RBC Foundation. For information about this program, its partners and recipients, please contact the program office.
Early Learning and Equality for All Children
I am writing on a topic that is truly close to my heart: providing early learning and child care to children with special rights (special needs) and who are medically fragile. I've always been fascinated with children's development, especially how they think and learn. I have discovered that seeing life through a child's eyes is very fascinating and fun. Working in an early learning program gives me daily contact with some of the most interesting people on earth; our children.
Creating a Living Classroom
Children's sense of self-worth and belonging are strengthened through the process of creative inquiry and the relationships they make throughout their learning journey. Adults and children work together to build meaningful relationships, make community connections, develop appreciation for the natural world and participate in opportunities for citizen engagement. A living classroom creates a learning community.
Khalil Gibran's poem succinctly reminds us of this great opportunity we, as caregivers, are honoured with—to provide children with the tools they will need to make choices to guide them to become positive, contributing members of society. My work with children draws from the teachings of our current great masters, such as Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Dyer, Don Miguel Ruiz and Gordon Neufeld as well as my own personal experiences in life, having lived in three different countries; Africa, England and presently Canada. So how does one begin this monumental task of empowering our children to ensure lifelong success?
Supporting the Language Lives of Young Children and Families in Our Early Childhood Classrooms
In my experience in working with young children (four months to six years), families and student teachers, I interact with many people who are immigrants to Canada and who have language lives beyond our classrooms. I strive for a classroom that is inclusive for all, where my colleagues and I establish a warm and welcoming environment where everyone comes to play, learn, care and have mutual respect. We work with the families to understand their children's language and literacy needs in order to help them feel included and supported in our early childhood classrooms.
Emergent Curriculum: How Art is used as a Language
Fear and dread washed over me. Never before had a child's request caused such a reaction. For most people it would have been an innocuous enough activity—copy her drawing. I'm a deft hand at painting, mixed media is a cinch, but drawing has always caused me endless hours of imperfect offerings. Having spent the night before frustrated by a similar task for my Masters program, I felt the universe was having a full belly laugh at my expense. A simple rainbow drawn by a four year-old was about to teach me about the flexible nature of an emergent curriculum.
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