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50 Of The Best Quotes About Teaching

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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

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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 (here’s a quick bio on Escalante if you’re not familiar with the movie based on his life, ‘Stand and Deliver’)

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

“So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute…Give your approval to all you cannot understand…Ask the questions that have no answers. Put your faith in two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years…Laugh. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts….Practice resurrection.”–Wendell Berry

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Teaching

The Selflessness Of Pedagogy: What Every Teacher Gives

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denisekrebs

The Selflessness Of Pedagogy: What Every Teacher Gives

by Terry Heick

It’s better to give than to receive–something that holds true for gift-giving and education.

In fact, the act of giving isn’t just a matter of ultimately receiving more, or even an act of altruism and selflessness. It has more to do with seeing the big picture itself — a healthy, robust, functioning system of careful human performance — that becomes the goal. It’s in this simple paradigm shift that we, as teachers, can find a new level of performance as professionals, contentment in our craft, and changed lives in the communities we serve.

So how might we focus on that service not as a characteristic of my job, but as the goal itself–the most macro product of all? For teachers, this would obviously be built around the idea of service-oriented teaching, where we gain strength and perspective from serving others. It would lead to ‘other growth,’ including, on a broader level, the formation of a personal and professional ecology than can sustain us through the challenges of teaching.

What would this look like?

Other teachers who need us, and who we need

Parents who need us, and who we need

Students who need us for something other than clarifying instructions, providing credit, and letter grades

The community of our school, including grade levels above and below ours, that needs us for our performance, collaboration, and ideas, just as we need that community.

In a word, this looks like interdependence. So what can I give to begin?

They give themselves.

Teaching is martyrdom. So often, educators feel the need to give themselves up to be feasted upon until there’s nothing left. Giving yourself is a different kind of gift, though. Here, it means truly putting your self aside — your need to be the best, your insecurities, professional goals, need for affirmation, and so on — and instead give in to the act of teaching.

But more crucially, this giving of yourself implies that you give your whole self to the act of teaching — your creativity, affection, background knowledge, contacts, networks, dreams, hopes, and so on — in the whole merging of you and your work.

They give others the benefit of the doubt.

As a teacher, you’ll see a lot moving upstream and down — struggling readers that always seem to come from that school; that family that doesn’t seem to care; that co-worker who seems to challenge you at every chance; that administrator who always seems to find a way to poke holes in your teaching. That assessment. That law. That policy.

Never, ever stop questioning the things happening around you. Be a critical educator, ask tough questions, and ring the bell when you’re concerned. Just do so from a position of positivity — give others the benefit of the doubt. Use positive presuppositions, such as: “We’ve always been strong supporters of literacy here, so I’m confused why. . . ”

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They give themselves the opportunity to learn new things continuously.

Okay, perspective change to first-person: I’m going to give myself the gift of learning. As a teacher, it makes sense to learn endlessly, not just to model it for students, but to keep my own curiosity and tendency for play stirring and alive.

I may learn a new set of literacy strategies. Maybe it’ll be a variation on the Socratic Seminar, or I’ll mash Fish Bowls with Agree/Disagree. I may bring new education technology into my classroom, or reach for new learning models such as project-based learning, sync teaching, or self-directed learning. I may throw out my desk and go paperless, mobile, or completely back to basics.

But I’m never going to stop learning. That is my gift to myself.

They give students a chance.

Maybe that’s a chance to surprise themselves. I want to give the gift of inspiration. Who doesn’t? And what better way can we inspire than by designing learning experiences that let students do things they didn’t think they were capable of? My gift would be giving students opportunities to surprise themselves through their own skills, critical thinking, creativity, and deep understanding of important ideas.

They give parents authentic opportunity to get involved.

It’s tempting to complain about parents that aren’t involved in their child’s schooling. Who on earth wants to be involved in schooling? Learning is a different matter — that’s something with a foothold allowing parents to engage meaningfully. This isn’t grades and homework, but rather understanding and the need to understand.

You may or may not get anything more from parents, but at least you’ve given them more tempting access than they’ve ever had in the past.

They give others chances to create new measures of success.

Teaching — properly done and measured as we do today — is impossible. It can’t be done. You cannot bring every single child to proficiency in every single standard while, at the same time, meeting their needs as human beings and helping them both see and reach their full potential. If this is your goal, you’re only going to disappoint yourself endlessly until you either burn out or realize that you’re lying to yourself.

Teaching, though, with new metrics of success — well, that’s suddenly a whole lot easier.

They give themselves a break.

The preceding represents a lot of giving, and also a lot of complexity, interdependence, opportunity, work, and chances to fail. So above all, I’m going to give myself a break.

I will give all of myself. I will give the benefit of the doubt. I’ll learn new things, promote self-discovery, connect with communities, and establish new measures of success. And when things go wrong, I’ll have a short memory. I’ll give myself a break and push on, excited about what tomorrow might bring.

Image attribution flickr user denisekrebs and cloudboard; What Every Good Teacher Gives

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Teaching

How The Lesson Study Approach Can Improve Your Teaching

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How The Lesson Study Approach Can Improve Your Teaching

contributed by Vicki Collet

Making teaching a shared and public practice supports improved instruction.

When teachers have opportunities for collaboration, reflection, and inquiry, they “can find better ways to answer the learning needs of students” (Lieberman & Wood, 2002, p. 42). Teacher inquiry makes us question practices that have become stale, generate innovation, and create dynamic learning for ourselves and our students.

Over the past decade, I’ve participated in teacher inquiry using a process called Lesson Study. I’ve seen scores of teachers engage with authentic professional learning through this work. Lesson Study is a structure for teacher inquiry that is as straightforward as it sounds: the study of a lesson. However, Catherine Lewis, who learned about Lesson Study in Japan and has been instrumental in spreading its use in the United States, points out that during Lesson Study,

(Teachers) improve the lessons not as an end in
itself, but as a way to deepen their own content knowledge, their knowledge of
student thinking, their understanding of teaching and learning, and their
commitment to improvement of their own practice and that of colleagues…Lesson
study is not about discovering the one right way to teach a lesson, but about
building knowledge of many teaching strategies and habits of observation,
inquiry, and analysis of practice (Lewis & Hurd, 2011, p. 24).

When participating in Lesson Study, you will collaboratively plan lessons that become the focus of inquiry on effective teaching practices. Then you’ll observe one another teach lessons and collaboratively revise and refine your instructional plans, as shown in the figure below.

How The Lesson Study Approach Can Improve Your Teaching

Inquiry is the essential element of Lesson Study, so the clear focus you identify for a Lesson Study cycle should propel your desire to investigate, to analyze and study together. Pursuing the questions your group has identified provides challenge and authentic purpose, which will increase your team’s motivation and engagement. Because you have identified the problem for yourself, the process will have immediate value. 

The goal of Lesson Study is not to create the ideal lesson that is universally useful. During teacher preparation and professional development, you have doubtless been taught and encouraged to use ‘best practices.’ Although it is true that some practices are more effective than others (and research has much to teach us), it is also true that there is no single, perfect lesson. This is true because you and I, and the students we teach, are diverse in so many ways. Lesson Study focuses on “the why of teaching: why teaching methods work in particular ways in particular settings” (Smagorinsky, as cited in Garcia & O’Donnell-Allen, 2015, p. 5). 

Grow your school with TeachThought PD Collaborative Lesson Study Workshops.

In our quest for better ways of doing things, Lesson Study can help us identify places where we are frozen in old practices and can help us warm to new ones. Lesson Study uncovers new approaches that are informed by the examination of evidence gained through our professional inquiry. Collaboration with colleagues who share similar contexts and concerns makes the insights gained especially helpful. By being the guides to our own professional learning, teachers resist stagnation and become mobile, active agents of change. With our colleagues, we take a learning stance by asking questions, taking risks, and reflecting on both successes and failures.

Lesson
Study uses knowledge you gain from your own classroom to stimulate professional
conversations about teaching and learning. Shared experiences through joint
planning and observation support the conversation, helping you develop your own
understanding and share it with others.

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If you are eager to investigate and improve instruction and increase your understanding about teaching, I invite you to learn more about Lesson Study. Lesson Study creates continuous learning cycles that put teachers in the driver’s seat of their own professional development.

———————

Book: Collaborative Lesson Study: ReVisioning Teacher Professional
Development

Website: vickicollet.com

Request to join Collaborative Lesson Study Book Club on Facebook est (next book study begins January 13, 2020)

Vicki’s blog: mycoachescouch.blogspot.com

Vicki on Facebook: facebook.com/mycoachescouch/

Vicki on Twitter: @vscollet

References

Garcia,
A., & O’Donnell-Allen, C. (2015). Pose, wobble, flow: A culturally
proactive approach to literacy instruction. Teachers College Press.

Lewis,
C. & Hurd, J. (2011). Lesson study step by step: How teacher learning
communities improve instruction. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Lieberman,
A., & Wood, D. R. (2002). From network learning to classroom
teaching. Journal of Educational Change, 3, 315-337.

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Teaching

18 Inconvenient Truths About Assessment Of Learning

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18 Inconvenient Truths About Assessment Of Learning

by Terry Heick

I. In terms of pedagogy, the primary purpose of an assessment is to provide data to revise planned instruction. It should provide an obvious answer to the question, “So? So what? What now?

II. It’s an extraordinary amount of work to design precise and personalized assessments that illuminate pathways forward for individual students–likely too much for one teacher to do so consistently for every student. This requires rethinking of learning models, or encourages corner-cutting. (Or worse, teacher burnout.)

III. Literacy (reading and writing ability) can obscure content knowledge. Further, language development, lexical knowledge (VL), and listening ability are all related to mathematical and reading ability (Flanagan 2006). This can mean that it’s often easier to assess something other than an academic standard than it is knowledge of the standard itself. It may not tell you what you want it to, but it’s telling you something.

IV. Student self-assessment is tricky but a key matter of understanding. According to Ross & Rolheiser, “Students who are taught self-evaluation skills are more likely to persist on difficult tasks, be more confident about their ability, and take greater responsibility for their work.” (Ross & Rolheiser 2001)

V. Assessments of learning can sometimes obscure more than they reveal. If the assessment is precisely aligned to a given standard, and that standard isn’t properly understood by both the teacher and assessment designer, and there isn’t a common language between students, teacher, assessment designer, and curriculum developers about content and its implications, there is significant “noise” in data that can mislead those wishing to use the data, and disrupt any effort towards data-based instruction.

VI. Teachers often see understanding or achievement or career and college-readiness; students often see grades and performance (e.g., a lack or abundance of failure) (Atkinson 1964).

VII. Self-evaluation and self-grading are different. ‘Self-evaluation’ does not mean that the students determine the grades for their assignments and courses instead of the teacher. Here, self-evaluation refers to the understanding and application of explicit criteria to one’s own work and behavior for the purpose of judging if one has met specified goals (Andrade 2006).

VIII. If the assessment is not married to curriculum and learning models, it’s just another assignment. That is, if the data gleaned from the assessment isn’t used immediately to substantively revise planned instruction, it’s at best practice, and at worst, extra work for the teacher and student. If assessment, curriculum, and learning models don’t ‘talk’ to one another, there is slack in the chain.

IX. As with rigor, ‘high’ is a relative term. High expectations–if personalized and attainable–can promote persistence in students (Brophy 2004). Overly simple assessments to boost ‘confidence’ are temporary. The psychology of assessment is as critical as the pedagogy and content implications.

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X. Designing assessment that has diverse measures of success that ‘speak’ to the student is critical to meaningful assessment. Students are often motivated to avoid failure rather than achieve success (Atkinson 1964).

XI. In a perfect world, we’d ask not “How you do on the test,” but “How’d the test do on you?” That is, we’d ask how accurately the test illuminated exactly what we do and don’t understand rather than smile or frown at our ‘performance.’ Put another way, it can be argued that an equally important function of an assessment is to identify what a student does understand. If it doesn’t, the test failed, not the student.

XII. The classroom isn’t ‘the real world.’ It’s easy to say invoke ‘the real world’ when discussing grading and assessments (e.g., “If a law school student doesn’t study for the Bar and fail, they don’t get to become lawyers. The same applied to you in this classroom, as I am preparing you for the real world.”) Children (in part) practicing to become adults is different than the high-stakes game of actually being an adult. The classroom should be a place where students come to understand the ‘real world’ without feeling its sting.

When students fail at school, the lesson they learn may not be what we hope.

XIII. Most teachers worth their salt can already guess the range of student performance they can expect before they even give the assessment. Therefore, it makes sense to design curriculum and instruction to adjust to student performance on-the-fly without Herculean effort by the teacher. If you don’t have a plan for the assessment data before you give the assessment, you’re already behind.

XIV. Every assessment is flawed. (Nothing is perfect.) That means that the more frequent, student-centered, and ‘non-threatening’ the assessment is (here are some examples of non-threatening assessments) the better. It’s tempting to overvalue each assessment as some kind of measuring stick of human potential. At best, it’s an imperfect snapshot–and that’s okay. We just need to make sure teachers and students and parents are all aware and respond to results accordingly.

XV. As a teacher, it’s tempting to take assessment results personal; it’s not. The less personal you take the assessment, the more analytical you’ll allow yourself to be.

XVI. Confirmation bias within assessment is easy to fall for–looking for data to support what you already suspect. Force yourself to see it the other way. Consider what the data says about what you’re teaching and how students are learning rather than looking too broadly (e.g., saying ‘they’ are ‘doing well’) or looking for data to support ideas you already have.

XVII. Assessment doesn’t have to mean ‘test.’ All student work has a world of ‘data’ to offer. How much you gain depends on what you’re looking for. (Admittedly, this truth isn’t really inconvenient at all.)

XVIII. Technology can help make data collection simpler and more effective but that’s not automatically true. In fact, if not used properly, technology can even make things worse by providing too much data about the wrong things (making it almost unusable to teachers).

The Inconvenient Truth About Assessment

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