This was originally posted on The Freshman Transition Network.

Do you remember your parents or grandparents sharing with you the same words of wisdom over and over again until you could quote them in your sleep?

If so, then count yourself blessed. Those words of wisdom spoken by an adult who cared helped to shape you and mold you. Even though at times you were probably tired of hearing those words, they stuck in your head and helped to guide you and your life.

My favorite example came from my grandfather, who I called Papa. Papa used to tell me,

"Scott, you gotta work hard in school so you can get good grades. You gotta get good grades so you can get to a good college. You gotta get to a good college so you can get a good job. You gotta get a good job so you can make good money. You gotta make good money so you can get a good wife. You gotta get a good wife so you CAN GIVE SOME SOME GOOD GREAT-GRANDCHILDREN!"

His speech - which he always said in a humorous way - at times seemed repetitive. Yet It ingrained in me a knowledge that excellence was expected, that my current actions had future ramifications, and that my Papa cared about me.

Many of our students have never heard such words of wisdom. They haven't heard the words at home that translate into success in
school or life. They haven't learned the lessons needed to overcome obstacles, to struggle through adversity, and to work toward a goal. In fact, the lessons they have learned from home might even be the exact opposite.

So let's take class time to be "Papa" for our students. Let's fill their heads with the words of wisdom they need for life. Let's make sure they leave our classroom with more than just content knowledge. Let's make sure they also leave better prepared for life.

Many teachers do this when the teachable arises. But the teachable moment doesn't arrive often enough. Instead we need to create the teachable moment. Similar to the way I suggested we use music in the classroom (in this post and in this post) I would recommend introducing students to a quote about once a week. Share the quote for the day's Do Now/Bell Ringer/Anticipatory Set. Asks students to reflect on the quote and how it applies to their lives. Give them a chance to share their reflections, and then share with them why you chose the quote. Students will appreciate the fact that you took the opportunity to step outside the curriculum and teach them about life.

Here are some ideas for finding quotes:

1. Purchase the Speaker's Source Book. It's full of anecdotes, stories, and quotes all arranged by topic.
2. Visit
3. Visit

I would be remiss if I didn't share a few favorite ideas for quotes.

"The reason most people fail instead of succeed is that they trade what they want most for what they want at the moment."

This has obvious relevance to the lives of our students. They so often trade their futures for the moment. Sharing a quote like this with them can help begin to realize that in their own lives.

I would also recommend sharing this quote/story about The Hole in the Sidewalk that I blogged about earlier.

Finally, consider this quote as one that could be a theme for the school year:

"Someone once asked Socrates what was the best way to get to Mt. Olympus. Socrates replied, 'By making sure that every step you take is in that direction.'"

Kids need a Mt. Olympus and they then need to analyze the direction in which their steps are taking them.

Any ideas for good quotes to share or ways to share them?

Views: 1390

Tags: habeeb, inspire, motivate, quotes, scott

Comment by Jacek Polubiec on March 23, 2010 at 2:39am
I love quotes because they caputure deep meanings and stir up interesting conversations. Here are few that I live and work by which are posted outside of my office for everyone to see
Comment by Scott Habeeb on March 23, 2010 at 4:56am
I like those quotes. Posting them in an obvious place like that hopefully gives you opportunities to discuss them with students.
Comment by RIchard John McLaughlin on March 23, 2010 at 4:17pm
Yo Scott, you are off the hook with your progressive thinking and approach to teaching.
I had a wonderful experience talking with a student today that wanted to know what makes an artist the best they can be. This young man is extremely talented, but lacks the self confidence due to an overprotective mother. He has been called the next Jackie Gleason.
I explained to him that the true artist connects with the audience at the soul level. The mind always messes things up. One could be perfect technically, but not seen as a great artist. It's important to know what your doing, but it's more important to know why you are doing it. I explained further that we are all put on this world to love each other and heal our soul.
I know that he has had glimmers of this feeling because I have seen him perform on numerous occasions. He is fantastic. But after he is done I watch him become deflated as his mind takes over and he points out all of the flaws of the performance. He acknowledged that this is exactly what he does. But when he is on that stage!
He told me that during spring vacation he discovered that he liked walking on the beach. He couldn't quite pin point what was going on .
I encouraged to look closer at what was going on on that beach. I believe it wasn't the beach, Florida, the sunshine or the ocean. I think he found himself. The best part is that he has been there all along.
Comment by Scott Habeeb on March 23, 2010 at 7:40pm
Richard - glad you liked the post. These are the sort of topics I have always focused on in the classroom as well as in my consulting travels.

Thanks for sharing that story.
Comment by RIchard John McLaughlin on March 26, 2010 at 6:45am
Excellant stuff.


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