10 First Day of School Quotes For Teachers

The first day of school is here, and you’re feeling ALL the feelings.

Nervousness. Excitement. Dread. And, yes, the words “existential terror” might even be bandied about.

The first day of school is the perfect time to remind yourself why you do what you do. To that end, why not look for inspiration with our motivational quotes for teachers?

Here are ten first-day-of-school quotes to help you feel prepared for a new school year. 

1. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela.

first day of school quotes for teachers
It’s easy to feel a sense of despair when we look at the world around us and see all the bad things that happen. Often, we feel helpless; this is nothing compared to what our students feel.

But we don’t have to feel that way. As a teacher, the obstacles may sometimes overshadow the rewards, but you are giving your students everything they need to fight against injustice and create the world they want. That’s pretty powerful! A new school year is a perfect time to remind yourself of that. Who better to do that than Nelson Mandela, who successfully resisted so much injustice in his own life?

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

first day of school quotes for teachers
Lily Tomlin gave us an entertaining window into childhood with the humorous character of Edith Ann, an outspoken five-year-old girl. As Edith Ann, Tomlin spoke many truths about education and life in a comical way. One of her favorite things to reflect on was school. Seeing school through Edith Ann’s eyes will give you a chuckle and make you think. For example, are you sending your students home with something to think about every day? Something besides homework? If so, then Edith Ann would heartily approve. 

Need ideas on what to send home? Check out TeacherVision’s collection of first-day activities.

3. “Education is not preparation for life. Education is life itself.” — John Dewey.

first day of school quotes for teachers
John Dewey was one of the first people to understand that a good classroom is not a protected space separate from real life. Under your guidance, real-life occurs for your students through science experiments, craft projects, and guest speakers.

That’s why every teacher should collect back-to-school quotes to affirm the excitement of this moment for those moments when things feel hard. Better yet, decorate your room with inspirational posters to have visual reminders. 

4. “Education doesn’t just make us smarter. It makes us whole.” — Jill Biden.

first day of school quotes for teachers
It’s true; as teachers, we sometimes feel like our profession is disrespected. We’re not in it for the money or to boost anyone’s profit margins. Often, there is no clear measure of whether or not we have succeeded. Some people seem to think teachers are just there to babysit so everyone else can go out and do the real work.

Jill Biden’s statement is one of the best back-to-school quotes to remind you how much your work matters. It’s not just about making students more intelligent. It’s about healing the problems in our nation and our world. What other professions can you say that about?

5. “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” —Oscar Wilde

first day of school quotes for teachers
Oscar Wilde was known for breaking the mold. This quote will help you remember that no other teacher is quite like you. You have something to contribute that no one else can. So whatever you learn or encounter as the year progresses, make it your own. Don’t try to be someone else. There are already plenty of those.

6. “Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.” — Confucius

first day of school quotes for teachers
There was a time when we all thought of teachers as a “sage on the stage,” wisely dispensing information to students whose job was simply to consume and digest it. But now we know that the world is changing far too quickly for that. As teachers, our role is not to give students answers; it is to give them the confidence and the skill to find answers on their own and build a more peaceful world. With back-to-school quotes like this one, you’ll be ready to instil in them the hope, confidence, and peace this world needs.

7. “I’ve always loved the first day of school better than the last day of school. Firsts are best because they are beginnings.” — Jenny Han.

first day of school quotes for teachers
It seems that everyone counts down until the last day of school. But don’t overlook that right now is the best time of the whole school year. It’s an exciting new start. Everything lies ahead of you, and the year ahead is exactly what you make it. 

8. “You must do things you think you cannot do.” — Eleanor Roosevelt.

first day of school quotes for teachers
Part of learning is stretching outside our comfort zone. As a teacher, you want to avoid getting into a rut. Set an example for your students by challenging yourself with those little things you’ve never believed you could do, whether it’s planning an exciting field trip or building an outdoor classroom. Take back-to-school quotes like this as inspiration to change up your routine, curriculum, and attitude if you want to get different results. You can find some ideas on our classroom management page.

9. “Intelligence plus character - that is the true goal of education.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr.

first day of school quotes for teachers
On certain days, it’s good to remember that your goal for your students truly is “intelligence plus character.” It’s not just memorizing facts and planning around school bells. It’s teaching your students how to think and empathize with others. It begins in preschool when you teach your students how to take turns and stand in line and continues up to high school as you prepare them to vote and interact with the workforce.

10. “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” - Malala Yousafzai.

first day of school quotes for teachers

If anyone understands the importance of education, it’s Malala Yousafzai. She knows how powerful one good teacher really is. Repeating school quotes like this one will help you remember that, too.

What is a good quote for the first day of school?

The day has finally come. You’ve gotten your school supplies ready and set your expectations for the year ahead. By now, you’ve been teaching long enough to understand that no matter how much you plan, those plans may get derailed. This is an excellent time to remind yourself that this is not a bad thing; it’s a great opportunity to model a growth mindset for your students. Start with this inspirational back-to-school quote from Albert Einstein:

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” 

This is a wonderful reminder that mistakes are part of learning. Even if your lesson doesn’t go the way you’d hoped, take a deep breath and realize that it means you’re growing and challenging yourself, just as you hope your students will. 

Another great quote comes from Malcolm X:

“Education is our passport to the future.”

This thought from Malcolm X is amazing when you stop and think about what you do as a profession. You interact with the movers and shakers of the future daily and guide their growth. What other position allows you to do that? Start the new school year by encouraging teachers to remember how essential their role is to our future world.

Another quote about new beginnings comes from beloved singer Taylor Swift. “This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.” 

Harry Wong’s book, The First Days of School: How To Be an Effective Teacher, has yielded plenty of smart advice for a successful first day of school. Here is a great quote from Harry Wong: “In an effective classroom, students should not only know what they are doing, they should also know why and how.”

If you need help making those positive changes, check out TeacherVision’s collection of back-to-school resources and activities.

Encouragement for teachers

The timeless wisdom of Dr Seuss is inspirational, no matter how old you are, for teachers and students alike. Teachers need that Seuss-inspired wisdom just as much as anyone else. As exhilarating as the first day of school is, it sometimes feels like you’re about to climb a mountain when you think of the many challenges you will face. Sometimes teachers need that little extra boost of motivation. This is one of our favorite inspirational quotes because it reminds you how much you will accomplish this year, no matter how tough things may get.

“You’re off to great places. Today is your first day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!”

Dr Seuss always says it best; today is your day.

Yet another great nugget of wisdom comes from this Chinese proverb: “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.” 

And, of course, there is this classic quote from William Butler Yeats: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” 

One more great quote for teachers comes from Benjamin Franklin: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Motivation for the work ahead

What’s the best motivational quote to inspire teachers for their hard work? Here is one of our favorite inspirational quotes from Marvin Phillips.

“The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.”

Pro basketball player Marvin Phillips understands the importance of a little “umph.” For every basket he makes, he probably missed hundreds to get there. Even on your worst days, remind yourself that the more you try, the closer you get to that elusive triumph. 

Another person who understands what it takes to succeed is Denise Witmer, who offers another great perspective. “A new school year means new beginnings, adventures, friendships, and challenges. The slate is clean, and anything can happen.” As someone who wrote helpful articles for teens and their families, Denise Witmer knows what she’s talking about here.

For a classic quote that’s fun and inspirational at the same time, there’s always the inimitable Audrey Hepburn. “Nothing is impossible,” she once said, “The word itself says ‘I’m possible!’” As an actress and activist who has achieved many impossible things, Audrey Hepburn is a wonderful source of inspiration.

Inspiration for the grind of the school day

In the daily grind and school bells of a typical day, it’s easy to forget the real reason you’re there. As a teacher, you empower students with the tools they need to impact their own lives positively. You are handing them the keys to a better life. For any student who deals with poverty, racism or mental illness, that’s an amazing superpower. No one understands this better than Oprah Winfrey, who brings us one of the best back-to-school quotes ever.

“Education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom.” 

Oprah Winfrey knows that our past doesn’t have to control us. Education gives us the power to go anywhere we want.

Another great quote along these lines is from Anthony J. D’Angelo, known for authoring books on the empowerment of young people: “Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” 

Finally, we can always hang onto the famous words of Abraham Lincoln: “Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in.”

Hopefully, this collection of school quotes will give you the mindset you need to start your year on a positive note.

Want some inspiration in your inbox every day? Sign up for our TeacherVision newsletter to get your daily dose of motivation for all grade levels from kindergarten through high school.

And if you want to put some school quotes up over your desk and around your classroom, check out our 20x inspiration quotes posters here.

About the author

Amy Gardner


About Amy

With a B.A. in English Language and Literature from Smith College and as a speaker of French, Spanish, and English, Amy worked as a World Language Teacher at a Middle School in… Read more

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