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Teachers touch the lives of their students in many ways. They play different roles aside from being educators. They act as nurturers, parents, counselors, leaders, storytellers, and role models.
They are also agents of change, acting as key players who have an influence in the struggle for equity and access to quality education. Wherever they might be in the world, teachers make a big impact inside and outside of the classroom. Their work continues long after the school bell has rung to signal the end of the school day.
Besides teaching, what else does a great teacher do? To what extent do they have an influence on an individual? On society? Education is a powerful tool and teachers pave the way for its access by becoming a guiding light for the world’s future leaders and game-changers.
What Do Teachers Do?
Teachers have one of the most important jobs in the world. They educate, inspire, and motivate. Teachers shape the way children—and even adults—see the world. These are only some of the things that teachers do.
They Coach and Mentor
Teachers help students soar. They encourage students to have inquisitive minds, and influence them not to be afraid to raise their hand and ask questions. They know how to nurture every individual, keeping them grounded and respectful, and how to handle all the different personalities that can be found within the classroom.
They also know how to listen to what their students are saying and to give them advice or help them out with a problem. Teachers, as coaches and mentors, help their students navigate life and its many twists and turns.
They Change Lives
Great teachers aren’t just about the academic enrichment of the students. They forge a genuine, nurturing relationship with their students. They make an impact on their students’ lives by fostering their students’ well-being inside and outside of the classroom.
One of the many ways that teachers change lives is through preventing students from dropping out of school. Teachers can identify and assess a student who is struggling. They can intervene and offer a solution or an alternative to the student before everything is too late.
Inspiration comes in many forms. Teachers inspire their students by believing in them and in their abilities. They constantly find ways to engage their students and to foster in them the love of learning. Some teachers use encouragement.
Others acknowledge their students’ achievements and milestones. Some inspire students with their passion for the subject that they teach. With this passion, student are inspired and motivated to learn the subject.
They change minds and lives. They inspire greatness. Great educators have inspired great scientists such as Robert Oppenheimer and Jocelyn Bell Burnell. They played a role in shaping the minds of famous personalities such as Oprah Winfrey who, through her fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Duncan, learned how to embrace a love of learning.
Teachers’ Effect on Their Students
Teachers directly affect the lives of their students in three aspects: education, inspiration, and guidance.
Through education, teachers work hard to make learning fun and engaging. They strive to make classrooms conducive and exciting avenues for learning. Teachers help shape their students’ worldviews, opinions, and even identities. They mold the brains of the future leaders, entrepreneurs, and citizens of the world.
Through inspiration, teachers have influenced the way students lead their lives. They are role models for students on how to behave and interact. They pass on the right manners and conduct students will keep and use when dealing with figures of authority for the rest of their lives.
Through guidance, teachers help student figure out their important life decisions. They help their students explore different life opportunities. Teachers open the doors to an enlightened, educated mind. They know the value of a good education and what it can do for an individual and they work tirelessly to make a better future possible.
Teachers are also human beings. They have their bad days, too, just like everyone else. Why not thank a teacher today and bring a smile to their face?
To inspire teachers, here are 80 quotes to remind them of how wonderful they are to be doing what they do and of how each of them is making a big difference.
- “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” – Charles W. Eliot
- “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” – William Arthur Ward
- “Those who educate children well are more to be honored than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well.” – Aristotle
- “There are two kinds of teachers: the kind that fills you with so much quail shot that you can’t move, and the kind that just gives you a little prod behind and you jump to the skies.” – Robert Frost
- “When you study great teachers…you will learn much more from their caring and hard work than from their style.” – William Glasser
- “The real heroes are the librarians and teachers who at no small risk to themselves refuse to lie down and play dead for censors.” – Bruce Coville
- “A teacher who loves learning earns the right and the ability to help others learn.” – Ruth Beechick, An Easy Start in Arithmetic, Grades K-3
- “You can’t stop a teacher when they want to do something. They just do it.” – J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
- “What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches.” – Karl Menninger
- “The expression ‘Those who can’t do, teach’ is a curious one, because if you look at the world , you’ll see that teachers aren’t particularly worse at doing things than anyone else, so perhaps the expression might be better worded as ‘nobody can do anything.” – Lemony Snicket, Horseradish
- “The older I got, the smarter my teachers became.” – Ally Carter, Out of Sight, Out of Time
- “Ask yourself: ‘Do I feel the need to laminate?’ Then teaching is for you.” – Gordon Korman
- “The women I know with strong personalities, the ones who might have become generals or the heads of companies if they were men, become teachers. Teaching is a calling, too. And I’ve always thought that teachers in their way are holy – angels leading their flocks out of the darkness.” – Jeannette Walls, Half Broke Horses
- “The great teachers fill you up with hope and shower you with a thousand reasons to embrace all aspects of life. I wanted to follow Mr. Monte around for the rest of my life, learning everything he wished to share of impart, but I didn’t know how to ask.” – Pat Conroy, My Losing Season
- “In my ten years of teaching I’ve noticed that teachers tend to have a bad habit of talking to themselves. I hypothesize that this is because we talk for a living, and we feel safe speaking our feelings aloud. Or it could be that most of us, especially the high school teacher variety, are just weird as sh*t.” – P.C. Cast, Divine By Mistake
- “The chief wonder of education is that it does not ruin everybody concerned in it, teachers and taught.” – Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams
- “Teachers knew every one of the students, their secrets, their grades, their home situations. And all the students knew the teachers. It was like teachers were people who finally were the most popular at school.” – Victoria Kahler, Their Friend Scarlet
- “It’s weird when you hear teachers call each other by their first names. It’s like they’re friends or something.” – Brian Francis
- “There are two types of teachers in the world: there are those who play school and teachers that teach school.” – Matthew Dicks, Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend
- “Professors go batty too, perhaps more often than other people, although owing to their profession, their madness is less often remarked.” – Michael Gruber, The Book of Air and Shadows
- “Make a difference, change the game for the better, leave a legacy, be a guide that someone else can follow and make better, and then someone else will follow that and make that better.” – Carlos Wallace, The Other 99 T.Y.M.E.S.
- “I now know that I was in the presence of the only angels we are ever likely to make the acquaintance of: teachers blessed with the love of small people who are trying to find their place in the world.” – Ted Kooser, Local Wonders
- “The effects you will have on your students are infinite and currently unknown; you will possibly shape the way they proceed in their careers, the way they will vote, the way they will behave as partners and spouses, the way they will raise their kids.” – Donna Quesada, Buddha in the Classroom
- “Teaching is a calling too. And I’ve always thought that teachers in their way are holy – angels leading their flocks out of the darkness.” – Jeannette Walls, Half Broke Horses
- “One of the first things we learn from our teachers is discernment: the ability to tell truth from fiction, to know when we have lost our center and how to find it again. Discernment is also one of the last things we learn, when we feel our paths diverge and we must separate from our mentors in order to stay true to ourselves.” – Anne Hill, The Baby and the Bathwater
- “In large part, we are teachers precisely because we remember what it was like to be a student. Someone inspired us. Someone influenced us. Or someone hurt us. And we’ve channeled that joy (or pain) into our own unique philosophies on life and learning and we’re always looking for an opportunity to share them – with each other, our students, parents, or in our communities.” – Tucker Elliot
- “A real teacher brings out potentials and a good teacher teaches you potential.” – Adewale Osunsakin
- “It takes generosity to be the one teaching, and humility to be the one being taught.” – Mokokoma Mokhonoana
- “Many of the kids coming into my classes at the university are all but illiterate. You give them a page to read and they can’t tell you what’s on it. Try teaching them the classics, and they can’t pronounce the words. Ask them to write about something, and they can’t make complete sentences – much less spell anything over two syllables.” – Lois Duncan, Killing Mr. Griffin
- “The proof of a great teacher is the successes of her students. The proof of a great business is the successes of their clients. Strive to bring out the best in people, then you will see over abundant successes.” – Kailin Gow
- “Everybody criticizes politicians, but some take honest responsibility of people. Many criticize teachers, but few step into those shoes that walk on personally barren paths with selfless dream to drive the nation to prosperity and success.” – Kavita Bhupta Ghosh
- “We can teach from our experience, but we cannot teach experience.” – Sasha Azevedo
- “As teachers we must not guide our students to be the people we wish them to be but elevate them to become the people they were meant to be. Remember the encouragement we give our students may be the only encouragement they ever receive so don’t use it sparingly.” – Chris Colfer, An Author’s Odyssey
- “When we teach English, the use of a language is a better identification (sometimes) than the one in your wallet. How we use the language, our words choice – tells people who we are, and what we think, and what we feel about them…Literature is the hallmark of history…” – James T. Cross
- “You will always be my teachers, just as much or more than I am yours. Do not think – nor let anyone convince you – that because of your age or your lack of experience that you do not hold wisdom beyond comprehension. You are wise enough to change the entire world in this movement, right now. Just as you are.” – Jeanette LeBlanc
- “The greatest challenge a teacher has to accept is the courage to be; if we are, we make mistakes; we say too much where we should have said nothing; we do not speak where a word might have made all the difference. If we are, we will make terrible errors. But we still have to have the courage to struggle on, trusting in our own points of reference to show us the way.” – Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle of Quiet
- “Teachers are mind engineers! Teachers are life directors! Don’t ever undermine a teacher!” – Ernest Agyemang Yeboah
- “Nowadays, focusing on transferring applicable knowledge is a very challenging task that all teachers face.” – Eraldo Banovac
- “Heeded my words not, did you? Pass on what you have learned. Strength. Mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is. Luke, we are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.” – Yoda, The Last Jedi
- “The teacher should be like the conductor in the orchestra, not the trainer in the circus.” – Abhijit Naskar, The Education Decree
- “You can teach a person all you know, but only experience will convince him that what you say is true.” – Richelle E. Goodrich, Slaying Dragons
- “Teaching is a dialogue, and it is through the process of engaging students that we see ideas taken from the abstract and played out in concrete visual form. Students teach us about creativity through their personal responses to the limits we set, thus proving that reason and intuition are not antithetical. Their works give aesthetic visibility to mathematical ideas.” – Martha Boles, Universal Patterns
- “There is no doubt that great teaching and great teachers have a significant impact on students and their long-term association with school and with learning.” – Carlos Heleno, A Comprehensive Guide to Getting Hired Teaching
- “I learned much from Crispin, though a lot of the things he went on about passed over my head. But he was one of those teachers who, by a kind of osmosis, helped you discover the quantity of areas in your life in which you are still so ignorant as not to have even considered forming a wrong opinion.” – Miguel Syjuco, Ilustrado
- “A society that undermined its teachers and their authority only dug away at its own sure foundations.” – Alexander McCall Smith, The Full Cupboard of Life
- “We seek excellence before we seek understanding, wisdom before we gain knowledge, success before we understand hard work; for this reason we need great teachers and leaders.” – Wayne Chirisa
- “Teachers see coldness in the world and light fires in the minds of their students, hoping for a warm summer. Sadly, some cannot bear the flame, some turn away from the heat, and some twist the fire to burn.” – Lance Conrad, The Price of Loyalty
- “Awesome teachers recognize different abilities, take time to listen, go beyond the textbooks, and inspire from the heart!” – Tanya Masse
- “Though I’ve never met a teacher who was not happy in retirement, I rarely meet one who thinks that their teaching life was not a grand way to spend a human life. The unhappy ones are the young ones, those who must teach in public schools when the whole nation seems at war with the very essence of teaching.” – Pat Conroy, A Lowcountry Heart
- “You had to suffer shipwreck through your own efforts before you were ready to seize the lifebelt he threw you. Believe me, I know from my own experience that the Master knows you and each of his pupils much better than we know ourselves. He reads in the souls of his pupils more than they care to admit.” – Eugen Herrigel, Zen in the Art of Archery
- “We must never forget our teachers, our lecturers and our mentors. In their individual capacities have contributed to our academic, professional and personal development.” – Lailah Gifty Akita, Pearls of Wisdom
- “Teachers can make such a profound impact on our lives and should be honored as heroes, I believe. They’re working for so little money, under such difficult circumstances, usually for the love of the service to the children. Many of us owe who we are to certain teachers who appeared at just the right time, in the right place, and had just the right words to propel us on our journey.” – Rainn Wilson
- “I urge you to be teachers so that you can join with children as the co-collaborators in a plot to build a little place of ecstasy and poetry and gentle joy.” – Jonathan Kozol
- “A wise person can enter and dwell in his own teacher’s knowledge, having realized it for himself through knowledge.” – Gautama Buddha
- “The best teacher is the one who teaches you how to be your own teacher!” – Mehmet Murat Ildan
- “He knew instinctively the cardinal function of a teacher – which is a stout lever to raw mass.” – John Horne Burns, Lucifer with a Book
- “What teachers do actually matters. Their ideas count. They are agents for change in our schools.” – Denny Taylor, From the Child’s Point of View
- “I’m not as interested in dispensing knowledge on how to make a living ass I am in helping young people learn how to make a life…” – D. Bruce Lockerbie
- “A genuine teacher does not seek to impress you with their greatness, but instead to impress upon you that you possess the skills to discover your own.” – Charles F. Glassman
- “The purpose of teachers should be to add to the sum of human knowers rather than the sum of human knowledge.” – Stuart Sherman
- “It is the ‘Teacher’ that shapes a novice; not only with his studies, but character too.” – Aniruddha Sastikar
- “Some of us Teachers who consider ourselves to be smarter than our students will realize how worthless we are if we ever enter a classroom and find it devoid of students. Without students we are nobodies.” – Rachitha Cabral
- “I am a teacher. I should be giving tests, not taking them.” – Allan Dare Pearce, Paris in April
- “Great teachers have high expectations for their students, but even higher expectations for themselves.” – Todd Whitaker
- “For my success I am immensely grateful to God, my parents, my family, my friends, my teachers and to the books I read.” – Amit Kalantri
- “We teachers break our bodies to give you a shirt that you will wear in the future, to conferences, to presidential speeches, to autograph signings. That is up to you and if you can do that for at least in a little thank to us. Then thank you, thank you all.” – Pedro A. Pérez Raymond
- “The argument could be made that the word hero is overused. I do not think, however, that this is the case when referring to teachers.” – Steve Maraboli
- “The educator has the duty of not being neutral.” – Paulo Freire, We Make the Road by Walking
- “There is plenty to be learned even from a bad teacher: what not to do, how not to be.” – J.K. Rowling
- “At its highest level, the purpose of teaching is not to teach – it is to inspire the desire for learning. Once a student’s mind is set on fire, it will find a way to provide its own fuel.” – Sydney J. Harris
- “The point of being a teacher is to do more than impart facts, it’s to shape the way students perceive the world, to help a student absorb the rules of a discipline. The teachers who do that get remembered.” – David Brooks, The Social Animal
- “Some teachers, the less effective ones, thought that fair meant distributing instruction equally to all students regardless of their needs. The exemplary teachers we studied, however thought fair meant working in ways that evened out differences between students.” – Richard Allington
- “We need teachers. We need to be teachers. Knowing when for each, is wisdom.” – Rick Beneteau
- “Can teachers successfully educate children to think for themselves if teachers are not treated as professionals who think for themselves?” – Diane Ravitch, The Death and Life of the Great American School System
- “Great teachers will never be able to make up for bad parents, nor should they be expected to.” – Taylor Mali
- “We are more than role models for our students; we are leaders and teachers of both an academic curriculum and a social curriculum.” – Patricia Sequeira Belvel, Rethinking Classroom Management
- “The best teachers become the best teachers by being their own best students.” – Laurie Gray
- “Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater.” – Gail Goldwin
- “Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.” – Colleen Wilcox
- “I’m not sayin’ I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will.” – Tupac Shakur