In 1994, October 5 was declared World Teachers Day in commemoration of the 1966 signing of the UNESCO and ILO of the Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers. This is a day about celebrating educators, the work that they do, and the lives that they change. Here, to help celebrate World Teachers Day, are five inspiring quotes about the importance of teachers and teaching.


This quote helps demonstrate one of the hard truths of teaching. Students are not empty vessels waiting to be filled from the teacher’s pool of knowledge. They are their own people with their own journey to walk through life. Good teachers recognize that their job is not to create paths for students to walk but to help students clear their own path. The best teaching gives students the tools they need to face the obstacles of the future, not just the ones set in front of them today.


We often talk about what a rewarding career teaching is, but we don’t always stop to appreciate just how far-reaching the impact of a teacher can be. Inspiring teaching ripples out for generations. The overall impact a single teacher can have is immeasurable. People today are still benefitting from the lives that were profoundly changed by a great teacher coming along at the right moment decades ago. Teachers live on through the lives they touch—and the lives that their students go on to touch—forever.


Credited with many groundbreaking educational philosophies that continue to influence the way we teach today, John Dewey’s quote demonstrates that great teachers know when to step back and let their students take control of their learning. By providing activities and structure but giving their students the freedom to explore and take action, educators are able to provide the conditions for lessons that last a lifetime.


Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund, certainly knows the importance of education to making lasting, sustainable changes in a community and bettering the world at large. Her quote here helps to illustrate just how far-reaching and profoundly transformational the act of teaching can be.


Let’s end on a quote that brings it back to a single instance between a teacher and a student. Helen Keller’s inspirational story has sparked a flame in many people over the years, and hearing how she credits her awakening to a teacher who truly cared about her and “seized the moment” is a great reminder for all educators. However big and far-reaching the act of teaching can be, it happens most often in tiny moments with a single student.


Happy World Teachers Day! Keep in mind the work of the educators who touched your own life and the goals you have for yourself as a teacher on this day.