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60 Inspiring Teacher Quotes to Reignite a Love for Teaching

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  • Inspiration

All teachers cherish the feeling: The thrill of inspiration that comes from inspiring others. But whether it be writing report cards or managing the classroom, daily stresses can make it hard to keep that inspiration alive.

We’ve dug through dozens of books, teacher magazines, Pinterest boards, and other blogs to find 60 of our favorite motivational quotes for teachers. Re-energize your day or week with these inspiring quotes from some of the world's greatest educators and thinkers!

Quotes on the characteristics of great teaching

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The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.

― William Arthur Ward

Good teaching must be slow enough so that it is not confusing, and fast enough so that it is not boring.

― Sidney J. Harris

In an effective classroom, students should not only know what they are doing, they should also know why and how.

― Harry Wong

Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater.

― Gail Godwin

The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught as that every child should be given the wish to learn.

― John Lubbock

The need for imagination, as a sense of truth, and as a feeling of responsibility -- these are the three forces which are the very nerve of education.

― Rudolf Steiner

Teaching should be such that what is offered is perceived as a valuable gift and not as a hard duty.

― Albert Einstein

Teaching is an instinctual art, mindful of potential, craving of realizations, a pausing, seamless process.

― A. Bartlett Giamatti

The teacher’s task is to initiate the learning process and then get out of the way.

― John Warren

Quotes about teaching's lasting impact

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A teacher affects eternity; he [or she] can never tell where his influence stops.

― Henry B. Adams

In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day’s work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years.

― Jacques Barzun

The greatest use of a life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.

― William James

Thirty-one chances. Thirty-one futures, our futures. It’s an almost psychotic feeling, believing that part of their lives belongs to me. Everything they become, I also become. And everything about me, they helped to create.

― Esme Raji Codell

Teachers are people who start things they never see finished, and for which they never get thanks until it is too late.

― Max Forman

Teachers, who educate children, deserve more honor than parents, who merely gave them birth; for the latter provided mere life, while the former ensured a good life.

― Aristotle

What greater joy can a teacher feel than to witness a child’s success?

― Michelle L. Graham

Quotes about teaching students to think critically

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The best education is not given to students; it is drawn out of them.

― Gerald Belcher

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.

― Albert Einstein

Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers.

― Josef Albers

The test of a good teacher is not how many questions he can ask his pupils that they will answer readily, but how many questions he inspires them to ask which he finds it hard to answer.

― Alice Wellington Rollins

It must be remembered that the purpose of education is not to fill the minds of students with is to teach them to think, if that is possible, and always to think for themselves.

― Robert Hutchins

Quotes about the difficulty of teaching

Effective teaching may be the hardest job there is.

― William Glasser

A pro is someone who can do great work when he doesn't feel like it.

― Alastair Cook a painful, continual, and difficult work to be done in kindness, by watching, by praise, but above all, by example.

― John Ruskin

Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition.

― Jacques Barzun

Teaching is the only major occupation...for which we have not developed tools that make an average person capable of competence and performance. In teaching we rely on the naturals, the ones who somehow know how to teach.

― Peter Drucker

Teachers are expected to reach unattainable goals with inadequate tools. The miracle is that at times they accomplish this impossible task.

― Haim Ginott

We can, whenever and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us. We already know more than we need to know in order to do that. Whether or not we do it must finally depend on how we feel about the fact we haven't so far.

― Ron Edmonds

What is teaching? : Quotes about teaching as an artform

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The most important part of teaching is to teach what it is to know.

― Simone Weil

Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.

― Colleen Wilcox

The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.

― Mark Van Doren

Teaching is the perpetual end and office of all things. Teaching, instruction is the main design that shines through the sky and earth.

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Teaching is truth mediated by personality.

― Phyllis Brooks

The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards; curiosity itself can be vivid and wholesome only in proportion as the mind is contented and happy.

― Anatole France

Benevolence alone will not make a teacher, nor will learning alone do it. The gift of teaching is a peculiar talent, and implies a need and a craving in the teacher himself.

― John Jay Chapman

One of the beauties of teaching is that there is no limit to one’s growth as a teacher, just as there is no knowing beforehand how much your students can learn.

― Herbert Kohl

I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.

― John Steinbeck

I entered the classroom with the conviction that it was crucial for me and every other student to be an active participant, not a passive that connects the will to know with the will to become.

― Bell Hooks

Quotes about teaching and purpose

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Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.

― Malcolm Forbes

Among the many purposes of schooling, four stand out to us as having special moral value: to love and care, to serve, to empower and, of course, to learn.

― Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan

The most important function of education at any level is to develop the personality of the individual and the significance of his life to himself and to others. This is the basic architecture of a life; the rest is ornamentation and decoration of the structure.

― Grayson Kirk

No one has yet fully realized the wealth of sympathy, kindness, and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure.

― Emma Goldman

The object of teaching a child is to enable him [or her] to get along without his [or her] teacher.

― Elbert Hubbard

Any genuine teaching will result, if successful, in someone’s knowing how to bring about a better condition of things than existed earlier.

― John Dewey

The ability to think straight, some knowledge of the past, some vision of the future, some skill to do useful service, some urge to fit that service into the well-being of the community -- these are the most vital things education must try to produce.

― Virginia Gildersleeve

Education is much more than a matter of imparting the knowledge and skills by which narrow goals are achieved. It is also about opening the child’s eyes to the needs and rights of others.

― Dalai Lama

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is a vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.

― Carl Jung

Quotes about teaching and the future

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The future of the world is in my classroom today, a future with the potential for good or bad... Several future presidents are learning from me today; so are the great writers of the next decades, and so are all the so-called ordinary people who will make the decisions in a democracy.

―Ivan Welton Fitzwater

No matter what accomplishments you achieve, somebody helped you.

― Althea Gibson

Thirty-one chances. Thirty-one futures, our futures. It’s an almost psychotic feeling, believing that part of their lives belongs to me. Everything they become, I also become. And everything about me, they helped to create.

― Esme Raji Codell

When the untapped potential of a student meets the liberating art of a teacher, a miracle unfolds.

― Mary Hatwood Futrell

[Kids] don't remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.

― Jim Henson

Quotes about teaching's importance

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Teaching is the essential profession, the one that makes all professions possible.

― David Haselkorn

The work of a teacher -- exhausting, complex, idiosyncratic, never twice the same -- is at its heart an ethical enterprise. Teaching is the vocation of vocations.

― William Ayres

What office is there which involves more responsibility, which requires more qualifications, and which ought, therefore, to be more honorable, than that of teaching?

― Harriet Martineau

Teachers, I believe, are the most responsible and important members of society because their professional efforts affect the fate of the earth.

― Helen Caldicott

What greater or better gift can we offer the republic than to teach and instruct our youth?

― Cicero

If kids come to educators and teachers from strong, healthy, functioning families, it makes our job easier. If they do not come to us from strong, healthy, functioning families, it makes our job more important.

― Barbara Colorose

To me the sole hope of human salvation lies in teaching.

― George Bernard Shaw

At the desk where I sit, I have learned one great truth. The answer for all our national problems -- the answer for all the problems of the world -- comes to a single word. That word is education.

― Lyndon B. Johnson

How to Use These Teacher Quotes

These 60 teacher quotes encompass a vast range of opinions, experiences and perspectives. It may be overwhelming to consider them all at once. It’s also easy to read a quote and become inspired, only to promptly forget about it.

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A method of internalizing these quotes -- and the important ideas they express -- is to pick one that you find particularly inspirational, and to live by it for one week. Make a goal to try to apply it in the classroom during the school day.

Consider the following steps to make this more effective:

  • Write the quote down in your weekly planner, so you can see it whenever you look at your schedule.
  • Put a Post-it note of the quote on your mirror or desk -- a great strategy for starting and ending the day with a reminder.
  • Take some extra time to choose quotes that resonate with you and are broad enough -- yet useful enough -- to apply in various situations.

Final thoughts

Teaching is a continually challenging profession, and the energy to tackle each day in the classroom is often in short supply. Occasionally, all you need is a little motivation to remind yourself why you teach.

Teacher burnout is a real problem. You shouldn’t necessarily just go looking for “motivation” when you need help with a lesson plan, a better way to grade papers, or a more differentiated approach to teaching.

But sometimes a short, powerful quote can serve as a well-placed reminder that your efforts are meaningful and important. After all, even the best teacher needs a little extra push from time to time.

Create or log in to your teacher account on Prodigy – a game-based learning platform that’s easy to use for educators and students alike. Keep your classroom engaged and help your students love learning. Plus, use your free teacher account to track progress, set Assessments and differentiate for individual learning needs.

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