Since becoming an educator, I’ve realized that so much of what we do is to inspire young people. Inspire them to do what varies; sometimes its to try persevere, try harder, to put in effort. Other times, it’s to push themselves, and believe in themselves. Still other times, it’s to change their outlook. In my own classroom, I use some of these quotes to inspire my own students, and others to support direct instruction on growth mindset.
Whether you’re looking to inspire your students, or to spark an idea for direct instruction on growth mindset (in which case, please let me know!) I hope that this collection below, of many of my favorite quotes, is able to provide you with what your students need for success in your class, and in life.
Quotes to Inspire Students to Put in Effort
1. “It’s hard to beat a person that never gives up.”
- Babe Ruth
This is one of the most inspiring classroom quotes I know, and I have it printed, laminated, and proudly displayed on my growth mindset bulletin board (click here to see it!). Persistence is probably one of the most exhausting qualities a person can have. It’s also one that almost always predicts how likely a person is to succeed.
2. “Life will pay what ever price you ask of it.”
- Tony Robbins
Tony Robbins’ presentations on living courageously and choosing to demand the most of life are inspiring.
3. “Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.”
- Winston Churchill
Use adversity to move higher.
4. “The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”
- Chinese proverb
…Impossible is Nothing.
5. “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
- Walt Disney
And that’s from the dream-maker himself.
6. “In order to succeed, the desire for success must be greater than the fear of failure.”
- Bill Cosby
Focus on what you want to accomplish — and forget the doubts. Motivation without doubt is almost always a recipe for success.
7. “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
- Nelson Mandela
8. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
- Mark Twain
Try your best. Study. Ask questions. Be bold. Write a book. Read a hard book. Join a new club. Try snowboarding. Call your Grandmother. Start a website. Join a writing club. Research a new topic. Try Sushi. Declare your love. Ask for help. Make a new friend.
Because you can!
9. “Out of clutter, find simplicity, from discord, find harmony, in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
- Albert Einstein
Teach students to find ways to succeed without blaming distractions or making excuses. Strive for harmony every day. Look for the opportunities hidden within anything that seems less than perfect. Less than perfect is far more interesting than perfect — and in any case, its a better reflection of reality. You can’t have perfect silence every time you’re working — teach students to find their own moments of zen in the midst of the classroom environment.
10. “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”
Quotes to Inspire Students to Believe in Themselves
11. “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.”
- Henry Ford
THIS IS MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE QUOTE for the classroom! In fact, I have it printed and laminated (you might be able to get a side-shot glimpse of it in my classroom tour). Much like Bruce Lee’s advice (quote #8), this reminds you to take control of your own life and destiny. Cultivate your existential perspective and realize how much control you really have. Internalize your locus of control and reclaim your power. Live the best version of your life.
12. ”This above all: To thine own self, be true.
13. “If you want to be happy, be.”
- Leo Tolstoy
Simple. Just be happy.
14. “What you are is what you have been. What you’ll be is what you do now.”
Take responsibility for your actions, your thoughts, your destiny. It’s all in your own hands.
15. “The world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming it.”
- Helen Keller
Teach your students (and yourself) that people overcome all kinds of troubles and obstacles. This is a testament to how powerful we all are, and is such a testament to how powerful perspective really is. This world is what we choose to see in it — so are our own individual lives.
16. “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”
- C.S. Lewis
I love this — yes it’s a touch spiritual for public schools, but it needn’t be. It is as simple as this: you are not limited to the things you think you’re limited to. You’re able to accomplish whatever you can dream up.
And while we’re at it, yes, take care of your body, and yes, hone your intelligence. But don’t forget to take care of the most important thing of all — the health and growth of your soul. Feed it, nurture it, and help to elevate it. Believe in yourself.
17. “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
- George Elliot
What I love about this quote is that it applies to all ages. At 10, I knew beyond a reasonable doubt that I wanted to be a lawyer (I changed my mind). At 40-something years old, my Mom went back to school to become a certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist. She is in amazing shape, is very active, and loves her life. Whether you’re 10, 24, 40-something, or 68, it’s still not too late to do what it is you want. Try something new! You can always change your mind.
18. “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
- Albert Schweitzer
Love the life you live — and define success as living a life you love — and you will always be happy and successful!
19. “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”
- Oscar Wilde
20. “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Gustav Klimt - Source
Show them they have the power! They may be one student, but they have a lot of power.
Quotes to Inspire Students to Change their Outlooks
21. “Do not believe anything that you’ve been told, unless it agrees with your own common sense.”
This is my favorite for students — because it goes so wildly against what they think the point of school is. My favorite “skill” to teach middle school history students is skepticism — taking anything they’re told or taught with a grain of salt, because the nature of history is so perspective-heavy and thus never entirely objective. It’s so important for students to know how to question things in an intelligent way.
22. “If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”
- Bruce Lee
Never give up, and never let yourself think you can do less than you really can. Similar advice from Henry Ford advises you to take responsibility for your own beliefs about yourself…
23. “We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.
- Anais Nin
24. “If you can’t laugh at yourself, life’s gonna seem a whole lot longer than you’d like.”
- Garden State
25. “Things are rarely just crazy enough to work, but they’re frequently just crazy enough to fail hilariously.”
When all else fails — laugh at yourself, and then try again. Failure, after all, is an opportunity to try again.
26. “I’m going to tell you something really subverse. Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it… It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, and risking everything for. And if you don’t risk everything, you risk even more.”
- Erica Jong
Teach children to appreciate it, even if its in theory.
27. “Everything worthwhile is worth the wait.”
- Yentl Reynders
Teaching kids to be patient is a gift.
28. “If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.”
Flower Image Source
29. Know this: It is okay for you to have everything you want.
30. “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
Be kinder than necessary — you never know what battle someone else is fighting.
Quotes to Inspire Students to Live Courageously
31. “It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are.”
– E.E. Cummings
So do it.
32. “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
- George Bernard Shaw
This is one of those quotes that rocks you off balance, especially in your adolescent years, or during the first two years of college. What a liberating idea — that one can form their own persona — and even their own destiny?
33. “A ship in harbor is safe – but that is not what ships are for.”
- John A. Shedd
34. “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
- Albert Einstein
35. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
Be strong — forgive and forget. Let go of grudges and past stresses — they do nothing but weigh you down and waste space in your mind and heart. Release your anger in a healthy way, and simply move forward. Your life will be simpler for it, and your health will thank you for it.
36. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness — only light can do that. Hatred cannot drive out hatred — only love can do that.”
- Martin Luther King Jr
Hearing it said in such simple words is incredibly moving and seems very intuitive. Even if you don’t examine what this means about the connection of all humanity, think of what it says about your own relationships with the people you love, when they are lashing out or being frustrating. Do you meet their negativity with more negativity (as if that will cancel itself out)? Or do you use positivity to drive away their pain?
Meeting frustration with frustration will not diminish it — but meeting someone’s frustration with kindness and understanding is incredibly powerful. Meet adversity with courage and hope. Meet anger with understanding and compassion. Meet cruelty with empathy and concern. Meet worry with reassurance. Love deeply and thoroughly and you will find your world is alive and brighter than you could ever have imagined.
37. “It is our choices… that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
- Albus Dumbledore
Isn’t it lovely that some of the most genuine, sweet, and applicable, ideas today have come from Harry Potter?
38. “With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.”
- Mark Twain
Live life beautifully.
39. “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
- Albert Einstein
That’s the beauty of the whole thing… you get to decide.
40. Inspiration from Steve Jobs
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
- Steve Jobs
RIP Steve Jobs – Image Source
Much of the wisdom in this collection is meant to guide your students and you to live courageously and fearlessly, and all of it is meant to inspire you. Click here for a list of quotes just for teachers!