Why Teaching Is Still The Best Job In The World

7 Reasons Why Teaching Is Still The Best Job In The World

by TeachThought Staff

This post has been republished from previous publishing

Sometimes, good teachers quit. Teaching is an increasingly demanding job with divergent influences, dynamic sources of innovation, and aging dogma that makes it all a struggle. It can be emotionally draining, and at times, impossible.

But in lieu of that–and in an age where start-ups are glorified, entertainment is endlessly emphasized, and tech is kind, teaching continues to be the best job in the world. Or at least I think so anyway. Here are 7 reasons why.

7 Reasons Why Teaching Is The Best Job In The World

1. The potential to transform lives – ask any teacher who has helped a student in any number of ways, from academic to welfare and emotional learning, and they will tell you that life is not only good, but amazing.

2. It gives you the chance to be continuously creative – of course there are increasing levels of accountability in teaching, but teachers are allowed to be creative in every lesson. Even in observations, in fact most of all in observations, lessons are encouraged to be creative and interesting to engage the students. Teachers have so many opportunities to try new ideas, and indulge in iterative process to ensure the optimum learning environment is created.

3. It offers you a chance to continuously get better – teachers are not only encouraged to seek continuous professional development, but can ask for observation on a regular basis, to provide opportunities to grow and learn from masters or more experienced practitioners. In so few professions is there such support, and considering that as a minimum, contracts are for a year, teachers have so much time to demonstrate improvement. A growth mindset is part of the foundation of teaching.

4. It is a grounding, humbling profession – the amount of work teachers do compared to remuneration is shockingly disproportionate, in 2 senses: firstly, in terms of how many paid vs non paid hours of work they receive, and secondly, in relation to other similarly creative and important (and not so important) vocations in our society. But that is not why teachers teach. So few teachers go into the vocation for the salary – it’s a calling before anything else.

5. There is always satisfaction somewhere – teaching is a calling, and no one enters it without his or her inner voice telling him or her that. Of course there are always some imposters, but the massive majority have their hearts in the right place. How cool is that for the students?

Having said that, teaching can be and is incredibly demanding, and often we can lose sight of that calling, bogged down in aspects of the profession that don’t seem to be connected to it. But on closer inspection, most of the extra demands are actually central to the job itself: explaining to parents where you are coming from; being observed; collaborating with others; marking.

Take this last aspect, crucial to understanding whether students are learning what you believe you are teaching. Yes, it is very time consuming, but perhaps one of the most important and fundamental weapons in a teacher’s arsenal; any good school will understand this and the other cited demands, and create an environment where they become part of directed time.

It is when these aspects are not acknowledged in directed time that the conditions for burnout are rife.

6. It’s a chance to truly to lead the world in the 21st century – introducing students to new technologies and ways of presenting, curating, and collaborating with others with what they know is truly exciting and truly invigorating. Modern teachers are actually pioneering pedagogy, and can and will be able to hold their heads up high in the future when we look back and see how learning in this day and age took a radical but enormously beneficial turn for the better.

Engaging students in greater collaboration, and instilling initiative in curation and the promotion of information leads to truly independent learning, and setting up such learning environments is an opportunity that all teachers now have before them. There are few more gratifying feelings that being needed.

7. The children. 


Of course, so much of the technological addition to teaching has all been achieved mostly through our own initiative, having to source and implement the enterprising learning strategies. But this only provides another string to our bow, and in the context of how important 21st century skills are, another example of why teaching is such an amazing thing to do. Sometimes teaching is exhausting, but friends, always come back to the core of what we are doing.

We are change makers, and that is something to be proud of. Long live teaching, still the best job in the world!

Adapted image attribution flickr user alexandersaprykin; 6 Reasons Why Teaching Is The Best Job In The World


The TeachThought Podcast Ep. 108 Breaking Barriers With The Values of Jackie Robinson

Drew Perkins talks with the daughter of Jackie Robinson, Sharon, about her life and experiences and wisdom in addition to her educational work with Scholastic and Major League Baseball called Breaking Barriers. This program, which features an essay contest, teaches students the values and characteristics that Jackie Robinson exhibited in his life, and how to use them to face and overcome barriers in their own lives.

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30 Lessons For Teachers From Dr. Seuss

dr-seuss-advice30 Lessons For Teachers From Dr. Seuss

by TeachThought Staff

Dr. Seuss is gold–whimsical and visually interesting traipses through surreal worlds, and always full of life advice.

And life advice is learning advice, and learning advice–well, that’s why we’re all here, yes?

There are themes below that apply directly to the responsibilities of a teacher. Let’s face it–teaching is an emotional roller coaster, and a microcosm for life itself, full of tedium and wonder, disappointment and triumph, down days and days to celebrate. Take #11 for example–you have brains in your head and feet on your choose, you can steer yourself any direction you choose–can be both encouragement to elementary students, or high school students taking themselves–and life–too seriously.

But it can also be applied for teachers, who each day face the incredible task of pleasing administrators, outside experts, parents, communities, colleagues, and the students themselves. Sometimes it’s empowering to realize that no matter the outside “pressure,” you’re in the classroom for a reason, and have a world of potential in your hands each day to make decisions that impact lives.

A few other standouts from the graphic from

2. Don’t cry that it’s over. Smile that it happened.

6. Think and wonder, wonder and think.

13. Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

15. Everything stinks ’til it’s finished.

28. Step with great care and tact and remember life’s a great balancing act.

29. Unless someone like you cars and awful lot, nothing’s going to get better. It’s not.

30. You’re on your own and you know what you know. And you’re the one who’ll decide where you go.



No Student Is Unreachable

No Student Is Unreachable

contributed by Jeffrey Benson

This post has been republished from a previous version

As an educational elder with a lot of experience working with challenging students, I am often asked to consult with school teams.

Recently a dedicated school counselor discussed with me Garrett, an 8th graders, saying, “He’s really depressed, completely shut-down. He does no work. His dad doesn’t follow through on getting him to therapy, or to try medication. Garrett gets nothing done and doesn’t seem to care at all.”

We chatted about ways to support Garrett’s father, and the difficulty of hanging in while witnessing a student who is so shut-down. “It’s hard to see him fail each day. All he wants to do is work with Mr. B, the teacher in the robotics lab.”

Whoa, that’s not a completely shut-down kid!

Our conversation then pivoted to the fact that Garrett had an interest (!) and a person at school whom he wanted to be with. We brainstormed ways the school could alter Garrett’s schedule so that he had more contact with Mr. B. The contact wouldn’t have to be earned, because kids shouldn’t have to earn something that they really need; Garrett needed time with Mr. B and robotics as much as a typical student needed to be in social studies.

Being with Mr. B in the robotics lab wasn’t a cure—it was a way to get traction with Garrett and for Garrett to construct a more positive image of himself in a world which he could barely abide. This is not an uncommon scenario: teachers describe, often with great compassion, all the ways a student struggles, all the things the student cannot do that age-typical peers are doing.

“Spend as much time describing what the child can do as what the child can’t do.”

When I hear these stories I too become shut-down; I am disabled by all the disabilities. It is as if I have been handed a trash bag filled with broken tools and smashed up parts and told to get to work.

Then I remember to request: Please tell me anything and everything this child can do.

The struggles of children who are challenging (often victims of exploited communities, neglect, and abuse) are so heart-breaking and extreme. As professionals we need to share our stories and vent our feelings. Equally important, as teaching professionals, we need to build, and for that we need every possible tool and working part in the child.

us-army-corp-of-engineersNo Student Is Unreachable: 4 Strategies To Reach Students That Don’t (Seem To) Want To Be Reached

To counter our inclination to get overwhelmed by the disabilities and short-comings, I recommend the following steps for establishing a consistent framework anytime your school focuses on challenging students, whether in a case conference, child-study team, IEP meeting, or more informal conversation.

1. Spend as much time describing what the child can do as what the child can’t do.

I suggest literally using a timer. The disability concerns tend to come with troubling stories; the ability side of the ledger tends to be a less-emotional list; e.g. “She likes to draw.” What does she draw? When does she draw? Has anyone talked to her about her drawing? What sort of skills does her drawing demonstrate? Does anyone see anything else the child likes to do or shows an interest in?

2. Get everyone who works with the student into the conversation.

There have been innumerable times when the physical education teacher, or the wood shop teacher, describes a very different child—an engaged child– than the core academic teachers see. This is not a criticism of those teachers; it is more a window into the complexity of human development.

As with the story of Garrett, one of the other teachers may provide an “island of competence” that needs to be expanded, at least temporarily. These are the times we are protecting a child through a very hard time in life, when schools have to do their best to inflict no further harm. The time spent with those other teachers can insure that challenging students don’t experience each day in school as a continual reminder of their failures to thrive.

3. Analyze the student through specific skills embedded in all the multiple intelligences, but not necessarily evoked in the core curriculum.

While there is much discussion about the “debunking” of the “myth” of multiple intelligences, the fact of the matter is that multiple intelligences can provide a kind of framework to diversify and differentiate instruction for all students. For struggling and hesitant learners, differentiation and personalization can make all the difference.


Linguistic—does the child understand puns and word play?

Logical/mathematical—does the child show ability playing board games?

Visual—does the child dress with any personal style?

Physical—does the child move gracefully across the room?

Musical—does the child know popular songs?

Interpersonal—does the child have friends, and if so, how is that initiated? Intrapersonal—does the child have ways to self-soothe?

Natural—how does the child talk about her pet?

The answer to all of these questions can allow the team to see the child through a richer set of lenses, and can lead to: a) very specific choices for engagement: “Tonya, we’ve got some new colorful markers you can use on the book report drawing;” b) opportunities to affirm the child and build connections through very simple observations: “Garrett, you wear the coolest hats. Tell me about them.”

4. Swallow Your Pride

The quicker you can make it about them and not about you or content or grades, the quicker you’ll gain their trust and be able to reach them.

For this to work, however, it has to be authentic–not “I want your trust so you can get good grades and master standards,” or even even “I care about your future.” Rather, start with “I care about you, right here, right now, for no other reason than who you are.”


Students who are challenging–i.e. victims of disruptive childhoods–do not change overnight. They grow. For many of them, that growth is dependent on grasping onto an extremely diminished set of possibilities, interests, and strengths. Ultimately they’ll have the best shot at a stable life by working from the things they are good at and the things they enjoy. We serve them best by spending as much time seeking and discussing their often fragile and submerged interests and capacities as we do their significant needs and disabilities.

In addition to TeachThought content on personalized learning, you can also visit to find more resources for creating inclusive learning experiences.

Jeffrey Benson has worked in almost every school context in his 35 years as an educator, from elementary school through graduate programs. Benson’s book, Hanging In: Strategies for Teaching the Students Who Challenge Us Most (ASCD, 2014), shows educators the value of tenacity and building connections when teaching the students who most need our help. Connect with him on Twitter; edited by Terry Heick; No Student Is Unreachable: 4 Strategies To Reach Students That Don’t Seem To Want To Be Reached; image attribution flickr user vancouverfilmschool and usarmycorpofengineers


50 Of The Best Quotes About Teaching

Quotes About Teaching

50 Of The Best Quotes About Teaching

by TeachThought Staff

Teaching is both an art and science.

Teaching is conceptual and intellectual, abstract and concrete, creative and sequential. It’s about people but framed through ideas. It’s about content, hearts, minds, the past, the future–whatever we can imagine, teaching and learning are both causes and effects.

With that in mind, we’ve collected some of the more famous quotes about teaching, doing our best to include a wide range of perspectives, cultures, nationalities, races, spiritualities–many of the things that make ‘us’ different, we tried to somehow use to curate the quotes. In that way, some will be familiar, some way will be about formal education, some will be sourced from old proverbs, etc.

We’ve shared our favorite quotes about learning so for this post, the premise is simple enough and the format explains itself: 50 of the best quotes about teaching.

50 Of The Best Quotes About Teaching

1. ‘Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.’ –W.B. Yeats

2. “Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition.’ –Jacques Barzun

3. ‘A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.’ –Thomas Carruthers

4. ‘I am not a teacher, but an awakener.’ –Robert Frost

5. ‘I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.’ –Albert Einstein

6. ‘Teaching is the highest form of understanding.’ –Aristotle

7. ‘When one teaches, two learn.’ –Robert Heinlein

8. ‘A teacher affects eternity: he can never tell where his influence stops.’ –Henry Adams

9. ‘I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.’ –Socrates

10. ‘Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.’ –Aristotle

11. ‘Teachers teach someone something, in that order.’ –Samuel Natale

12. ‘I cannot be a teacher without exposing who I am.’ –Paulo Freire

13. ‘Your work is not to drag the world kicking and screaming into a new awareness. Your job is to simply do your work… sacredly, secretly, silently … and those with “eyes to see and ears to hear’ will respond.’ –The Arturians

14. ‘The true teacher defends his pupils against his own personal influence.’ –Amos Bronson Alcott

15. ‘In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something else.’ –Lee Iacocca

See also 52 Of Our Favorite Inspirational Quotes About Teaching

16. ‘The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.’ ― William Arthur Ward

17. ‘The best teachers are the ones that change their minds.’ –Terry Heick

18. ‘I am not a teacher, but an awakener.’ –Robert Frost

19. ‘A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.’ –Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

20. ‘Proper teaching is recognized with ease. You can know it without fail because it awakens within you that sensation which tells you this is something you have always known.’ –Frank Herbet

21. ‘A great teacher can teach Calculus with a paper clip and literature in an empty field. Technology is just another tool, not a destination.’ –Unknown

22. ‘You cannot teach a crab to walk straight.’ –Aristophenes

23. ‘Teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions.’ —Unknown

24. ‘A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.’ –Horace Mann

25. ‘Good teaching is 1/4 preparation and 3/4 theatre.’ –Gail Goldwin

26. ‘Your worst enemy is your best teacher.’ –Buddha

27. ‘The job of an educator is to teach students to see vitality in themselves.’ –Joseph Campbell

28. ‘All teachings are mere references. The true experience is living your own life.’ –Ming-Dao Deng

29. ‘The word ‘education’ comes from the root e from ex, out, and duco, I lead. It means a leading out. To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil’s soul.’ –Muriel Spark

30. ‘To know how to suggest is the art of teaching.’ –Henri-Frédéric Amiel

31. ‘Teaching is only demonstrating that it is possible. Learning is making it possible for yourself.’ –Paulo Coelho

32. ‘I would teach how science works as much as I would teach what science knows.’ –Neil deGrasse Tyson

33. ‘Teachers have three loves: love of learning, love of learners, and the love of bringing the first two loves together.’–Scott Hayden

34. ‘You can teach a person all you know, but only experience will convince him that what you say is true.’ –Richelle E. Goodrich

35. ‘There is no failure. Only feedback.’–Robert Allen

36. ‘The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.’ –Maria Montessori

37. Ask ‘How will they learn best?’ not ‘Can they learn?’–Jaime Escalante

38. ‘It is essential to understand that battles are primarily won in the heart…(people) respond to leadership in a most remarkable way and once you have won (their) heart, (they) will follow you anywhere.’ –Vince Lombardi

39. ‘It takes a big heart to help shape little minds.’–Unknown

40. ‘A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.’ —Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

41. ‘Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.’ —Theodore Roosevelt

42. ‘It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.’ –Albert Einstein

43. ‘Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions.’ –Unknown

44. ‘The best teachers are those who show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see.’ –Alexandra K. Trenfor

45. ‘A good teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.’ –Thomas Carruthers

46. ‘Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.’ –William Butler Yeats

47. ‘Study without reflection is a waste of time; reflection without study is dangerous.’ –Chinese Proverb

48. ‘If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.’–Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Estrada

49. ‘The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.’ –Pablo Picasso

50. ‘Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.’ –John Steinbeck

Other Quotes About Teaching

‘Listening is the most difficult skill to learn and the most important to have.’ –African Proverb

‘If you have to put someone on a pedestal, put teachers. They are society’s heroes.’ –Guy Kawasaki

‘[My teacher] basically bribed me back into learning with candy and money and what was really remarkable was before very long I had such a respect for her that it sort of re-ignited my desire to learn.’ –Steve Jobs

‘Everyone, in some respect, is a teacher; some just work harder to do it better.’ –Terry Heick

‘Teach the way you’d want to be taught.’ –Unknown


52 Of The Best Quotes About Learning

52 Of The Best Quotes About Learning

by TeachThought Staff

The internet loves many things.

It loves cats, for example. Memes, too. It loves video, which means it loves YouTube. It loves recipes and Wikipedia and alarming misdiagnoses on WebMd and, among other things (and getting to the point here), quotes. This is due in part to the succinct nature of a quote matching the attention span of readers inundated with unending feeds of new content.

The length of a quote often fits many of the more popular formats internet-wide, including Pinterest-friendly graphics, tweets, slideshows, and more.

So then, the quotes about learning. Below we’ve hand-picked 52 of our favorite quotes about learning. (We’ve already got a follow-up article drafted because there are many we like that didn’t make the cut this time.) We tried to choose from a variety of thinkers, from teachers and writers to poets and farmers to philosophers and entrepreneurs to civil rights leaders and, in a few cases, even politicians.

Quotes About Learning: These quotes about learning necessarily reflect a particular view of learning, so in that way this list is editorialized. At TeachThought, we focus on the human/critical thinking/innovation angle, and the quotes we chose mostly reflect that just as we did in 50 Of The Best Quotes About Teaching.

We hope you find a few of them useful–as writing prompts, for example. Discussion starters maybe. Or just as a reminder for you as an educator as to the nature and importance of your craft.

52 Of The Best Quotes About Learning

1. ‘The ability to speak exactly is intimately related to the ability to know exactly.’ –Wendell Berry

2. ‘Any fool can know. The point is to understand.’ –Albert Einstein

3. ‘Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.’ –Benjamin Franklin

4. ‘It is what we know already that often prevents us from learning.’ –Claude Bernard

5. ‘Learning is synthesizing seemingly divergent ideas and data.’ –Terry Heick

6. ‘The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.’ –Alvin Toffler

7. ‘All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind.’ –Martin Fisher

8. ‘It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.’ –Harry S Truman

9. ‘You aren’t learning anything when you’re talking.’ –Lyndon B. Johnson

10. ‘I never learned from a man who agreed with me.’ –Robert A. Heinlein

See also 52 Of Our Favorite Inspirational Quotes For Teachers

11. ‘You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.’ –Richard Branson

12. ‘All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.’ –Immanuel Kant

13. ‘Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.’ –Socrates

14. ‘It is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.’ –Albert Einstein

15. ‘By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.’ –Confucius

16. ‘A little learning is a dangerous thing.’ –Alexander Pope

17. Enlightenment is man’s leaving his self-caused immaturity. Immaturity is the incapacity to use one’s intelligence without the guidance of another. Such immaturity is self-caused if it is not caused by lack of intelligence, but by lack of determination and courage to use one’s intelligence without being guided by another. Sapere Aude! Have the courage to use your own intelligence! is therefore the motto of the enlightenment.’ –Immanuel Kant

18. ‘The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.’ –Voltaire

19. “To endure uncertainty is difficult, but so are most of the other virtues.’ –Bertrand Russell

20. ‘It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go we have come to our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.’ –Wendell Berry

21. ‘That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing itself is changed, but that our power to do is increased.’ –Ralph Waldo Emerson

22. ‘Don’t just teach your children to read. Teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything.’ –George Carlin

23. ‘A man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.’ –Albert Einstein

24. ‘If you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you haven’t learning anything.’ –Muhammad Ali

25. ‘Anyone who has begun to think places some portion of the world in jepopardy.’ –John Dewey

26. ‘A problem well-put is half-solved.’ –John Dewey

27. ‘The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.’ –Dr. Seuss

28. ‘All learning has an emotional base.’ –Plato

29. Knowledge, which is acquired under compulsion, obtains no hold on the mind.’ -Plato

30. ‘Wisdom is learning what to overlook.’ William James

31. ‘Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or the same way.’ –George Evans

32. ‘Knowing is not enough; We must apply. Willing is not enough; We must do.’ –Bruce Lee

33. ‘Have more than thou showest, Speak less than thou knowest, Lend less than thou owest, Ride more than thou goest, Learn more than thou trowest, Set less than thou throwest.’ –William Shakespeare

34. ‘Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.’ –Benjamin Franklin

35. ‘We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.’ –Martin Luther King, Jr.

36. ‘Collaboration allows us to know more than we are capable of knowing ourselves.’ –Paul Solarz

37. ‘Towering genius disdains a beaten path.’ Abraham Lincoln

38. ‘Never let formal education get in the way of your learning.’ –Mark Twain

39. ‘Dialogue cannot exist without humility.’ –Paulo Freire

40. Development is a series of rebirths.’ –Maria Montessori

41. ‘Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.’ –Oliver Wendell Holmes

42. ‘It is not from ourselves that we learn to be better than we are.’ –Wendell Berry

43. ‘Even the genius asks questions.’ –Tupac Shakur

44. ‘Expecting all children the same age to learn from the same materials is like expecting all children the same age to wear the same size clothing.’ –Madeline Hunter

45. ‘What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.’ –Buddha

46. ‘Transfer is important, but think first about the learner, then about their native environments. Then, further, let’s hope for the self-initiated application of knowledge. Unprompted. Unformatted. The spontaneous, personal, and creative application of understanding in dynamic physical and digital environments.’ –Terry Heick

47. ‘The human mind is our fundamental resource.’ –John F. Kennedy

48. ‘All of the books in the world contain no more information than is broadcast as video in a single large American city in a single year. Not all bits have equal value.’ –Carl Sagan

49. ‘The quieter you become, the more you can hear.’ –Buddha

50. ‘Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.’ –Stephen Hawking

51. ‘Ideas without action aren’t ideas. They’re regrets.’ –Steve Jobs

52. There are four powers: memory and intellect, desire and covetousness. The two first are mental and the others sensual. The three senses sight, hearing, and smell cannot well be prevented; touch and taste not at all.’ –Leonardo Da Vinci

52 Of The Best Quotes About Learning


Chance The Rapper Is Starting An Awards Show For Teachers

Chance The Rapper Is Starting An Awards Show For Teachers?

by Ashley McCann

No one goes into teaching expecting fame or fortune — and if they do, they’re more likely to find themselves rich with disappointment instead of dollar bills.

While it’s true that teaching is a noble profession powered by good intentions (or at least should be), the reward of teaching lies in the personal pride of knowing that you’re making a difference and not for public recognition or riches for a job well done.

But what if we adored teachers like we cheer on athletes?

What if we valued their opinions like we do actors and actresses?

See also 52 Favorite Inspirational Quotes For Teachers

In a society that celebrates (and compensates) the looks, talent, or general marketability of celebrities, it’s almost laughable to envision a red carpet event for teachers. Oscar-like awards for superior Project-Based Learning lessons? A standing ovation for increasing attendance and student enthusiasm? Heck, we’d be impressed to get to a point of not paying out-of-pocket for classroom supplies — forget picking out gowns to impress paparazzi.

In an effort to give back to his community, Chance the Rapper has noticed this disparity and is working to improve it in his hometown of Chicago. Through his non-profit organization SocialWorks, designed to “inspire creativity, to build dreams, to let you be you,” he’s raised millions of dollars for public education, promoted programs to empower youth in creativity and leadership, distributed 30,000 backpacks full of school supplies, and his most recent — and interesting — endeavor is the education-focused Twilight Awards.

“In June of 2018,” he announced at a recent SocialWorks summit, “the City of Chicago will host the first-ever annual Twilight Awards, highlighting teachers, parents, principals and students that convey leadership.”

This isn’t some Thursday night awards ceremony in a school auditorium, either. Late-night CBS host (and Carpool Karaoke star) James Corden will be hosting a celebrity guest line-up where the focus is on educators and those who support them instead of performers.

At that same summit, Chance the Rapper also announced that SocialWorks had raised $2.2 million worth of grants to be distributed among 20 Chicago-area schools. Days earlier, he greeted customers and worked the grill at the newly opened PERi-PERi, after they pledged their first three days’ worth of food-related profit to a donation to SocialWorks, proving this is more than just good P.R. — it’s an endorsement and investment in public education and in the teachers who help shape the minds of the future.

Let’s hope this is a trend that catches on in Hollywood. There may not be fame and fortune in teaching, but some recognition and support is well-earned.

Chance The Rapper Is Starting An Awards Show For Teachers?


Boy Teased For Wearing Fila Shoes Drops Knowledge In Response

Boy Teased For Wearing Fila Shoes Drops Knowledge In Response

by TeachThought Staff

If 10-year-old Nyeeam Hudson of New Jersey doesn’t end up as President of the United States, he certainly has the potential for a career as an educator.

See also: 52 Of Our Favorite Inspirational Quotes For Teachers

The quick version is that Hudson was teased about his choice in shoes at a local playground, where apparently Filas aren’t considered as cool as LL Cool J made us think they were in the late 1980s. (This happened back in August 2016, but because we’re not mashable and on top of every viral video as it breaks, we missed it. Better late than never.)

The video, originally published by the boy on Instagram, abruptly cuts off at the one-minute mark due to Instagram’s maximum video length. The transcription appears below if you’re bandwidth-challenged and can’t play the video.

See also: A Very, Very Powerful Motivational Video For Teens

‘I just came from the park and this kid was teasing me because I had FILAs on. Now, mind you, I am not a material person. I just wear FILAs because I like the color and I think they are cool. They might not be what’s popular today, but that’s what I like. So I told the kid, it’s not about what I have on my feet, it’s about what I have inside my head. No matter what I’m wearing, no matter what I have on, it’s about my information, the knowledgeable things in life. These sneakers are not even going to fit you in 20 years from now. So it’s about what you have in your mind. Your wisdom. Your knowledge. The power to inspire others. And parents, please don’t raise your children like the materialistic type cuz once they don’t have Jordans on or cool clothes, they are going to feel like they are not important. They are going to feel like they need the gold or the Jordans or the cool stuff, the popular stuff, to make them feel important….’

Hudson has 125k followers on the image and video-driven social channel. If you want to support the young man–who started public speaking at 8 years-old and is now a motivational speaker–you can find his account here.

Boy Teased For Wearing Fila Shoes Drops Knowledge In Response


How To Reach–And Change–Your Students


How To Reach–And Change–Your Students

by Terry Heick

Reaching students emotionally may seem like a red herring, but maybe it’s not.

Inspired by Justin Tarte’s recent—and excellent–post on making a difference in the lives of others around you, I immediately thought of the legacy teachers leave in the minds (and hearts) of students. If and how you will be remembered by students may sound like a bit of an ego trip, but the truth of the matter is, if you’re not making any kind of an impression, they’re probably not learning.

(Unless you can imagine a classroom of stunning and robotic efficiency in which you shape the minds of students without ever reaching them as human beings.)

This doesn’t require every teacher to be Jaime Escalante or Mr. Keating from Dead Poet’s Society to make an impact, but rather it requires you to find your own way into the heads and hearts of your students. Below are a few ideas to help jumpstart your thinking on how this might happen.

How To Reach Students: 18 Simple Ways To Make A Lasting Impact

1. Make them curious.

Curiosity is the fuel for discovery, inquiry, and learning. It is a state of mind that is open and flexible and in-tune with something substantive and accessible. Or seeks to be in-tune with something substantive and accessible.

Curious students are guided by something other than compliance, and its other byproducts –investigation, collaboration, reflection, and others—can last a lifetime.

2. Model macro-thinking.

Absolutely, focus on your learning target that is standards-based, but model the macro-context that target fits within, and not just at the beginning of class, but over and over again. Then sketch out for them the context for the everything else they do: reading, writing, thinking. Help them see the big picture without chiding or sounding preachy.

And don’t tell them-help them see it themselves.

3. Tell stories.

Everybody loves a story. Tell them—in a way that is natural and comfortable for you—and students will begin to see you in three dimensions, as a full human being interacting with them for their own intellectual growth. (See our post, “Storytelling Tips for Teachers.”)

4. Know what to overlook.

Knowing what to “pretend not to notice” is an important part of any relationship. Not everything is a teaching point. Not every mistake needs correcting, and certainly doesn’t need correcting by you. Doing so only ensures that the terms of your relationship with that student will defined by a constant struggle, and a tone of judgment and “correction.”

5. Set them up to surprise themselves.

To have an enduring impact on students, they need to ultimately see themselves differently somehow: more aware, more reflective, more capable. If your work with them doesn’t result in them seeing themselves in a new light, it has less of a chance to “take hold” and last. Do your best to place them in situations where they can see not only their growth academically, but personally as well.

6. Make them feel on even ground when you speak.

Make eye contact. Use tone that implies both respect and appreciation. Choose body language that communicates interest and compassion. “Even ground” doesn’t require you to lose “authority,” but rather to move from “speaking to” students to “talking with” students.

7. Acknowledge & honor emotions.

Emotions matters. Use them to prime the pump for learning, to inspire self-direction, and to recognize each student full as a human being. Challenge yourself not to react personally to certain emotions that may seem antagonizing or otherwise problematic, but rather to focus on students feeling not just heard, but fully understood as human beings with complex histories and circumstances that color their learning experiences no matter how clinical you try to make them.

8. Show trust.

Trusting a student communicates more than you can otherwise put into words. Give them chances to see the value and complexity of trust.

9. Compliment them (authentically).

Everyone loves to be complimented. And don’t patronize them. They can tell.

10. Pay attention.

Recognizing the nuance of each student—their patterns, their insecurities, the fact that they wear two different shoes because they think it looks cool—proves to them that you see them as people, not students. This is no small shift.

11. Go out of your way to speak to them outside of class.

Find them in the halls, in pep rallies, in the lunch room, during extra-curricular activities, athletic events, etc. Well, maybe don’t “find them”—that’s kind of stalkerish. But use your instincts to know to say hello, when to smile, and when to sit down with them in the lunchroom and make them feel awkward.

12. Model the challenging of convention.

You want credibility with students? Beyond playing video games and listening to “cool music,” one way to really get their attention is to challenge convention. For many students, their lives are dominated by one non-stop routine of listen-and-do.

Showing them when, how, and why to challenge social rules and public expectation will not only make a lasting impression, but will also help them learn to do so in a “healthy” manner.

13. Be honest.

Students have excellent bologna detectors, unfortunately. Lie, mislead, “spin” at your own risk.

14. See through their behavior & academic performance.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care about their performance in the classroom, only that you see it in its context of their lives. You see its causes and effects. You see the person behind the performance, and focus on them. In fact, that’s a theme with all of these strategies: focus on the human being.

15. Convince them they can.

Focus as much on self-efficacy as standards-based proficiency. One leads to the other.

16. Be human.

Admit mistakes. Laugh. Get distracted. Let them prove you wrong. Crazy thing, but students like humans more than teachers.

17. Take extra time.

Do your best to take extra time, in spots, with all students. This could be in the classroom, in the hallway, or in the margin of their latest essay. The one finite and critical resource teachers need is time. Spending it on students says everything.

18. Establish a relationship.

See all of the above.

Oh, by the way, here is Mr. Keating in action if you haven’t seen it.

How To Reach–And Change–Your Students; image attribution flickr user tannozo


Dear Teachers, Today Is An Opportunity


Dear Teachers, Today Is An Opportunity

by TeachThought Staff

Here’s a quick thought for you: Today is an opportunity. Today is your chance. Not some day generally or metaphorically. Not in some esoteric sense of vague futureness. Today.

Right now. 

This moment is empty. Blank. Bursting with opportunity to become something. And don’t forget that as you reach and push and pull and sweat and grunt and smile, your students are always watching you.

Which means what you do is helping them learn what they might do.


Dear Teachers, Today Is An Opportunity


52 Of Our Favorite Inspirational Quotes For Teachers


52 Of Our Favorite Inspirational Quotes For Teachers

by TeachThought Staff

Teaching is hard, and at times it can seem like energy is in short supply. Sometimes, we all need a little inspiration to remind us why we do what we do.

First, a preface: Teacher burnout is a real thing. Don’t go looking for “inspiration” when you need help with a unit, a smarter way to grade papers, or a simpler way to grade quizzes. But if you’re sure what you need is a 8-second peptalk, one of these quotes may be exactly what you need.

We’ve dug through dozens of books, teacher magazines, pinterest boards, and other blogs to find 52 of our favorite inspirational quotes for teachers. We’ve tried to come up with a range of ways of thinking about teaching and learning without resorting to the most cliche lines you’ve heard again and again.

Some of these you’ve likely heard before, but hopefully the bulk of them are both new, and capable of that extra push when you need it.

52 Of Our Favorite Inspirational Quotes For Teachers

“Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time.” (Chinese Proverb)

“If kids come to us 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)

“What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.” (George Bernard Shaw)

“We’re trying to give the young people something that can help them, and we don’t know exactly what it ought to be.” (Wendell Berry)

“Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.” (Colleen Wilcox)

“Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” (Anonymous)

“The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth.” (Dan Rather)

“Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater.” (Gail Goldwin)

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“The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” (Mark Van Doren)

“Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition.” (Jacques Barzun)

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” (William Butler Yeats)

“I’m not sayin’ I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will.” (Tupac Shakur)

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” (John Dewey)

“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. It might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.” (John Steinbeck)

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” (William Ward)

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” (Einstein)

“We learn geology the morning after the earthquake.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“There is no failure.  Only feedback.”  (Robert Allen)

“The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life.” (Plato)

“If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.” (Chinese Proverb)

“Death is not the greatest loss. The greatest loss is what dies inside while still alive. Never surrender.” (Tupac Shakur)

“A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.” (Mustafa Kemal Atatürk)

“The more that you read, the more things you will know, the more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” (Dr. Seuss)

“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” (Robert Frost)

“It takes a big heart to help shape little minds.” (Unknown)

“Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best.” (Bob Talbert)

“You cannot teach a crab to walk straight.” (Aristophenes)

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” (Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Estrada)

“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.” (Khalil Gibran)

“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 the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” (Carl Jung)

“Teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions.” (Unknown)

“In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less.” (Lee Iacocca)

“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.” (Socrates)

“Remember that failure is an event, not a person.” (Zig Ziglar)

“It may be that when we no longer know which way to go that we have come to our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.” (Wendell Berry)

“Learning is not a spectator sport.” (D. Blocher)

“The next best thing to knowing something is knowing where to find it” (Samuel Johnson)

“Never discourage anyone…who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.” (Plato)

“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” (Henri Bergson)

“I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” (Einstein)

“Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.” (Confucius)

“There is a great difference between knowing and understanding: you can know a lot about something and not really understand it.” (Charles F. Kettering)

“I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.” (Lily Tomlin)

“What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches.” (Karl Meninger)

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” (Thomas Edison)

“Thought flows in terms of stories–stories about events, stories about people, and stories about intentions and achievements. The best teachers are the best story tellers. We learn in the form of stories.” (Frank Martin)

“You can’t direct the wind but you can adjust the sails.” (Anonymous)

“The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.” (Unknown)

“Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.” (E. M. Forster)

“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” (John Dewey)

“The true teacher defends his pupils against his own personal influence.” (Amos Bronson Alcott)

“The teachers who get “burned out” are not the ones who are constantly learning, which can be exhilarating, but those who feel they must stay in control and ahead of the students at all times.” (Frank Martin)

Bonus: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupér)

52 Of Our Favorite Inspirational Quotes For Teachers; sources: curatedquotes learningstreams


Ep. 32 Learning, Loving And Listening To Our Kids

TT podcast John Thompson art

Ep. 32 Learning, Loving And Listening To Our Kids

by Drew Perkins, Director of TeachThought Professional Development

This is episode 32 of the TeachThought Podcast!

Drew Perkins talks with John Thompson about his new book, A Teacher’s Tale: Learning, Loving and Listening to Our Kids.

Links & Resources Mentioned In This Episode:


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Thank You For Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below! If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the top of this post.

Also, please leave an honest review for The TeachThought Podcast! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and we read each and every one of them. If you have any questions (or would like answers to hear previously submitted voicemail questions!), head on over to

Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes to get automatic updates.

Want More?

If so, please join over 20,000 people who receive weekly content from TeachThought via their inbox, and follow us on twitter and facebook.

Ep. 32 Learning, Loving And Listening To Our Kids

Podcast The Future Of Learning

Ep. 21: Reframing Education By Erasing the Deficit Mindset With Yong Zhao

TT podcast art YZ


Ep. 21: Reframing Education By Erasing the Deficit Mindset With Yong Zhao

by Drew Perkins, Director of TeachThought Professional Development

This is episode 21 of the TeachThought Podcast!

Drew Perkins talks with internationally recognized education thought leader Yong Zhao about reframing education from a standardized and deficit mindset to one that builds on student strengths. Also discussed were two of his recent books, Counting What Counts: Reframing Education Outcomes and Never Send a Human to Do a Machine’s Job: Correcting the Top 5 EdTech Mistakes.

teach thought PD

Links & Resources Mentioned In This Episode:


itunes button

Thank You For Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below! If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the top of this post.

Also, please leave an honest review for The TeachThought Podcast! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and we read each and every one of them. If you have any questions (or would like answers to hear previously submitted voicemail questions!), head on over to

Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes to get automatic updates.

Want More?

If so, please join over 20,000 people who receive weekly content from TeachThought via their inbox, and follow us on twitter and facebook.

Ep. 21: Reframing Education By Erasing the Deficit Mindset With Yong Zhao


Volunteering In My Wife’s Classroom Opened My Eyes


Volunteering In My Wife’s Classroom Opened My Eyes

by Brent Wooten

His wife is a longtime teacher, but commentator Bret Wooten says it was the time he spent volunteering in her classroom that opened his eyes to her world.  

The other day my 7-year-old daughter Joslyn triggered a memory when she asked me: “Why do we give other people money when we can’t buy everything we want?”

Fair question.

But I don’t believe she’s quite ready for my answer, just our example.

About two decades ago, my wife began teaching second grade in a small school in the same low-income area she grew up in. She unknowingly walked into a classroom with several dark secrets she would keep from me.

The principal trusted the other teachers at Michelle’s grade level to select the students that would be placed in her class. They did not select the most gifted and talented. Each night when we spoke, she would ramble through different strategies she was using to reach each child, often times feeling overwhelmed and frequently wondering if she had selected the wrong career.

She was terrified she was not good enough for these children.

Tax season came around and I asked my wife to give me the receipts she had for teaching supplies. The stack was enormous! And I was quite certain that most of it was not deductible. I rudely pointed out “the purpose of work is to make a profit!” She did not argue with me. She simply asked me to help her the next day at school and went to bed.

When I came by that next afternoon, I found myself surrounded by the children doing projects and I jumped right in. I dropped by the school as often as I could, so the children were used to me at this point. But one young man always kept his distance. After the kids had gone, I asked Michelle why. She then revealed her dark secrets, the histories of the children in her classroom.

These kids endured everything from true poverty to sexual abuse. Her list of questionable deductions started to make sense: granola bars, orange juice, cereal, milk, jackets, band aids and endless school supplies.

The young man that would not approach me? She told me about him last. He had endured the worst. All the men in his life injured this child in ways that still bring tears to my eyes and a rage in my soul.

Then she said: “He needs shoes.”

The only thing I could mutter was: “What size?”

These days we think we will find the answer to so many questions within the pages of a book or the folds of a standardized test, but this is the reality of many children in America. I wish stories like this were on the news or touted by politicians.

Unfortunately, acts of kindness are far too common in education and thereby deemed unnewsworthy. If these stories were aired, maybe we could actually solve some problems instead of just pointing them out.

Bret Wooten is a small business owner from Lewisville.


When Teaching Makes You Cry

when-teaching-makes-you-cryWhen Teaching Makes You Cry

by Terry Heick

Jackie Gerstein shared a video on facebook recently–the very kind of thing I usually scroll right past because I’m obtuse and abrasive and feel shame whenever I’m on facebook anyway. But it was Jackie, so I clicked and watched it, and was moved by what I saw.

After spending the vast majority of my time and energy helping rethinking learning, it was stunning to see a teacher that could simplify things to their most human and elemental and beautiful form: The interaction between people that need one another.

There is something about teaching that makes you cry, and so having taught for several years at different grade levels across different districts, I’ve cried more than once. It’s not always for the same reason, either. Joy. A sense of being overwhelmed. Breakthroughs. Failures. There’s a lot going on in any moment in a classroom–altering-the-arc-of-one’s-life-type stuff.

My most recent cry was about 18 months ago (I’m overdue). I was talking to a district administrator who wanted to see “more detail” in my lessons plans. This was part of an ongoing conversation that we’d been having for months. The administrator wanted to a level of “planning” that I was unable to provide, and I kept pushing and trying and revising and resubmitting and trying again, and I was getting nowhere, and she (the admin) wasn’t letting up. In fact, she was pushing harder.

I take tremendous pride in what I do, and am harder on myself than anyone critiquing me could ever be. I’m fiercely competitive, not so much with others, but with what’s possible–the gap between what we’re doing and what we could be doing.

What Gap Between What I Was Asked To Do & What I Was Able To Do

The district I was working for had a prodigious–and vigorously-referenced–set of “non-negotiables.” This list of items and processes made it very clear what was expected of every teacher on a moment-by-moment basis, and what could be requested on-demand for the teacher to “prove.” I understood this on a rational level–every profession has a job description with clearly delineated set of responsibilities. But my word–what had I gotten myself into? I wondered. This wasn’t teaching, and had little to do with learning.

The tone of it all was soul-crushing. The implications of the “expectations” and “non-negotiables” were dizzying. The assumption is that you’re delinquent; prove you’re not.

Not demonstrate effective pedagogy.

Not prove students understand.

Not emphasize select and relevant student growth.

Instead, it was spend an extraordinary amount of time proving that you’re preparing the way we want you to, and don’t complain because all teachers have to do it, and team players don’t complain about what is expected of the team because that’s selfish.

So I tried. The administrator wanted my lessons every Friday by 3 o’clock for the week after next. She’d respond to my lessons within 48 hours, and wanted a follow-up response for each of her requests by Sunday evening.

If I created a warm-up that included a journal prompt, it was requested that I provide anticipated responses for the prompts. If I provided three prompts, I’d need to provide anticipated responses for all three prompts. Same with any kind of Accountable Talk student questioning. How might the students respond to this question or that? Why? What would I say back? What might they say back?

“Here, it says you’re using inquiry-based learning in groups of four, with tiered reading and writing assignments to provide checkpoint “snapshots” of understanding. That’s Monday. And then Friday, it says you plan on using an exit slip as assessment? So I need that exit slip checked for rigor and okay’d, and I need to know exactly what that exit slip will be assessing (standard placed on existing curriculum map). I also need to know what kind of responses you might expect, and how you might respond to those range of responses.

“I also need to see (approved) research to support your choice to use inquiry, Reciprocal Teaching, and blended learning. And please email me and your principal and your team leader the research so they can okay it.”

Same with learning targets, PLC work, data team work, committee artifacts, walkthrough documents, literacy probes, assessment data, IEP data, usernames, passwords, etc., etc., etc.–all with the implication that I’m not doing it, and that my choices are problematic, and that I must prove otherwise.

In a short time, teaching had become a matter of expectation, compliance, and proof, and was so stressful I began to dread Sunday nights. I had come to feel completely disconnected from my craft, and realized I was not capable of fulfilling what was expected of me.

And that is an awful feeling. To not feel good enough is not something I was accustomed to feeling. I went from Department Chair and Literacy Committee Chair and Literacy Plan Author to insufficient. As a person, I no longer recognized the joy and curiosity and inquiry and thought and self-knowledge and utility and affection of teaching and learning, and that wasn’t because I was “stressed,” it was because, in lieu of all of the training in pedagogy, and all of the passion I had for my students, when I pushed with everything I had, nothing budged.

I felt lost, and this is what, in that meeting with that administrator that sunny October afternoon, made me cry.

The other end of the when teaching makes you cry? Something beautiful? There’s this.


A Very, Very Powerful Motivational Video For Teens

A Very, Very Powerful Motivational Video For Teens

by TeachThought Staff

Motivation is one of the great mysteries of humankind. Why do we want what we want?

We even study it in literature–character motivation. What does this character want, and what do they have to overcome to get it?

The answer is never simple. Even a reductionist take says that there are primary and secondary motivations–and thus often primary and secondary conflicts in any story.

Student motivation goes into even deeper waters: What motivates this student to “succeed” in school? Is it intrinsic motivation or extrinsic motivation? Does it ebb and flow? Is it perishable altogether?

And does success mean different things for different students? Good grades? Reaching a new personal best? Reconfiguring their self-identity as a learner and as a student? Simply showing up every day for a week?

The video above distills the idea of motivation into something elemental. If you’re motivated by things or events or glory, you’re not motivated at all because that’s not motivation. You’re not really motivated to achieve something until you want it as bad as you want your next breath. And every decision you make directly impacts that achievement–whatever that achievement is for that student. When you say you want something, and then act in a way that indicates otherwise, that’s revealing.

That’s not even “bad” necessarily. It clarifies things for you, because it’s clear you don’t really want it. You just want to say you want it. You just like to talk about goals. You like the way it feels to feign ambition. If you can’t make progress, you find things to blame.

But the truth is something simpler: Until you can’t be deterred, you don’t really want it.

Note, there is a whole bunch of shirtless-dude in this video, so consider your audience accordingly. It uses a football player training as a backdrop for the message, so it probably wouldn’t appeal much to younger children, or maybe even to you as a teacher.

But for teens–especially males–it may just get their attention.

A Very, Very Powerful Motivational Video For Teens


Other Data: 20 Signs You’re Actually Making A Difference As A Teacher

horizontal-integration-making-a-difference-as-a-teacherOther Data: 20 Signs You’re Actually Making A Difference As A Teacher

contributed by Saga

You plan. You assess. You network. You collaborate.

You tweet, differentiate, administer literacy probes, scour 504s and IEPs, use technology, and inspire thinking.

And for all of this, you’re given bar graphs on tests to show if what you’re doing is actually making a difference. But there are other data points you should consider as well.

20 Signs You’re Actually Making A Difference As A Teacher

1. Your students are asking questions, not just giving answers.

Critical thinking does not mean thinking harder before giving an answer. It means being critical of all possible answers. If your students are asking more questions, and feel comfortable doing so, you can rest assured they will continue the habit outside your class.

2. You have used your authoritative role for inspiration, not intimidation. 

Monkey see, monkey do. I once had a writing professor who, as a best-selling novelist, was not too proud to bring his own raw material to class for the students to workshop. This was a great lesson in humility that I’ll never forget.

3. You have listened as often as you have lectured. Another lesson in authority.

Your students have respected your thoughts and ideas by attending your class; the least you can do is respect theirs. Lending an ear is the ultimate form of empowerment.

4. Your shy students start participating more often without being prompted.

Cold-calling may keep students on their toes, but it never creates an atmosphere of collaboration and respect. When the quiet ones feel comfortable enough to participate on their own, you know you’ve made an impact.

5. A student you’ve encouraged creates something new with her talents.

The simple act of creating is so personal, memorable, and gratifying that you can rest assured your student will want to make it a habit.

6. You’ve been told by a student that, because of something you showed them, they enjoy learning outside of class.

Even if it becomes a short-lived interest, your student will realize that learning outside of class doesn’t have to mean doing homework.

7. You’ve made your students laugh.

People like, and therefore listen to, other people who make them laugh. Showing you have a sense of humor about a topic will lubricate the learning path for your students.

8. You’ve tried new things.

Students, especially if they are older, can be critical of change. A new grading system or an unexpected group discussion session can easily lead to resentment instead of renewed interest. But your students will remember it. Whether the change succeeds or not, they will remember it years down the road when all their other classes, so similar to one another, blur together.

9. You’ve improvised.

Respect and inspiration result from going out on a limb, whether the limb breaks or not.

10. Your student asks you for a letter of reference.

Whether you get bombarded by requests for recommendation letters each year or have been asked for one in your entire career, you can’t deny the confidence you’ve boosted and the difference you’ve made.

11. You have taken a personal interest in your students. 

Your favorite student still may not get into college or achieve his career goals—it’s frustrating, but it happens—however, the chances that he will are infinitely higher simply because you showed an interest.

12. You’ve let your passions show through in your lessons.

It’s hard to stay animated when you’ve been teaching the same material for twenty-five years, but it’s also hard for your students to stay animated when they don’t know why your subject should excite them. Even if they never become excited by your subject, they have learned that different people have different interests and that it’s okay to share your passion regardless of what other people think.

13. You’ve made students understand the personal relevance of what they’re learning.

Psychologists have proven time and time again that people remember things much better if they are personally relevant. Perhaps the lone advantage in a self-centered culture.

14. You have cared–and shown that you cared.

Researchers at the University of Leicester have proven that students assign the most authority to teachers who care about them. If this is true, then you are demonstrating a wonderful principle: that respect comes from kind behavior.

15. You have helped a student choose a career.

Whether your student was already interested in your subject when she entered your class or only became interested once you started teaching, you know you’ve done a great thing when she asks you privately about careers in your field.

16. One of your students becomes an educator.

Maybe one of the greatest honors of all. You must know you had some part in the process, whether it was something you did or (yikes) didn’t do.

17. A parent approaches you with kind words.

Certainly too seldom the case, but reassuring when it happens. Sometimes you have no idea your student listened to a word you said until a relative comes forward to thank you.

18. Your students visit you when they don’t have to.

This is not a popularity contest. This is an accessibility contest. If your students feel comfortable approaching you outside of class, whether for help on an assignment or advice on a career, you’ve made a difference already.

19. You can be a mentor when you need to be.

Many students suffer from major obstacles to learning in the form of inner conflict or turmoil at home. While school counselors exist for a reason, you can’t afford to be completely closed off to personal issues. Learning is not independent from feeling, and this is something you can demonstrate to your students.

20. You practice strength and patience.

We’ve all reacted to current situations with emotions left over from the past, whether it’s trouble at home or personal strife. The ultimate lesson, at the end of a rough day, is not blaming anyone but yourself for your reactions. Students are always watching; someday someone will be watching them too.

Despite what administrators might drill into our skulls, educators exist to produce good people, not good test results. The true measure of our success is hard to record on paper but easy to recognize in a student’s behavior. Look for the signs and be open to improvement.

This article is based on a post first published on; Other Data: 20 Signs You’re Actually Making A Difference As A Teacher; image attribution flickr user horizontalintegration