Have you ever kept reflective journal for teachers with or without prompts for the school year? The first time I noticed a teacher using one was when I was in my credential program. I had to visit and observe so many classrooms. One teacher that I really admired was super organized, and she made a habit of recording thoughts in her reflective journal for teachers. During a lunch break she was writing in it. I asked her how she used it and what she liked to write about.

The main thing was gratitude. It was a way of filling her own cup and honoring her calling and herself.

Honor your calling but first honor yourself quote on a flowered background.
You can use a reflective journal for gratitude to honor your calling and honor yourself.

She told me another  thing she wrote were things her students said that she didn’t want to forget.
She also used it to reflect on lessons; questions about what went well and things she wanted to change.
She wrote down reflections about teaching in general and how she felt about it.
Her reflective journal for teachers included quotes she found inspiring.

Using Inspiring Quotes as Journal Prompts

Water lily and words what inspires you

As a teacher, you always put your students first. I know, I’ve been there. But how do you fill your own cup so that you can continue to give all you can to your calling? ⁠

➡ That’s what I mean when I say, “Honor yourself.” ⬅⁠

You only have so much to give. These are tough times in teaching. Take care of yourself by giving yourself time, even if it’s only 5 minutes alone. Even if it’s in the bathroom! ⁠

?One way to take care of yourself is to write in a reflective journal the things for which you’re grateful. That only takes a couple of minutes, but it resets your mind and emotions to a state of appreciation.⁠

Writing Gratitude Notes in a Reflective Journal

I love this idea, and I try to do it every morning. I’m not perfect, and my reflective journals show that. Sometimes I’ve been consistent and sometimes not. (Moment of honesty here.)

But I can truly say the teacher self reflection process has been key to my growth. Using quotations have always been one of the ways I begin writing. In my experience, when I’m actively writing, I’m a better writing teacher. I explored that in my last blog post. Quotes are also great for growth mindset and SEL in the classroom. You can use them to spark conversation and inquiry.

If you like to use quotes to get you started with reflective journal writing, I’ve created a list of 37 to use as prompts for you. There are one per week, plus one extra. I chose these because they focus on positive, uplifting ideas. In other words, they’re like SEL for teachers. 🙂 Just put on your teacher glasses to see these quotes through the lens of education. The quotes come from writers, poets, politicians, publishers, and proverbs.


Reflective journal prompt with green pen and flowers

Reflective Journal Prompts for the School Year

If you follow me on Instagram, you might recognize some of these as quotes I share each week in my feed. These are all included in my reflective journal. I used to give some of these quotes to my 5th grade class as conversation starters. They’re as perfect for your students as they are for teachers. Let’s get started with the list.

  1. Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way. – Native American Proverb
  2. We see the brightness of a new page where everything yet can happen. – Rainer Maria Rilke
  3. Change your thoughts and you change your world. – Norman Vincent Peale
  4. Be grateful to people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. – Marcel Proust
  5. Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him. – Booker T. Washington
  6. Give thanks for…the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. – Chief Tecumseh
  7. Every child is an artist. – Pablo Picasso
  8. It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up. – Vince Lombardi
  9. One kind word can warm three winter months. – Japanese Proverb
  10. I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart. – Vincent Van Gogh
  11. Never fail to know that if you are doing all the talking, you are boring somebody. – Helen Gurley Brown
  12. A goal without a plan is just a wish. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  13. Mistakes are the portals of discovery. – James Joyce
  14. Be gentle with the young. -Juvenal
  15. If a man does not know what port he is steering for, no wind is favorable to him. – Seneca
  16. Three things in life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind. – Henry James
  17. Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win. – Jonathan Kozol
  18. You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist. – Indhira Gandhi  [click_to_tweet tweet=”This quote by Gandhi is one of my favorites to have my students reflect and write on. ‘You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist.'” quote=”This quote by Gandhi is one of my favorites to have my students reflect and write on. ‘You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist.'” theme=”style3″]
  19. Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives. – William James
  20. Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify. – Henry David Thoreau
  21. Never be afraid to sit awhile and think. – Lorraine Hansbury
  22. Treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents. It was loaned to you by your children. -Native American Proverb
  23. The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it. – Pearl S. Buck
  24. I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp, in-focus picture of it in my head. – Jack Nicklaus
  25. You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man’s freedom. You can only be free if I am free. – Clarence Darrow
  26. There is always room at the top. – Daniel Webster
  27. No great thing is created suddenly. – Epictetus
  28. With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts. – Eleanor Roosevelt
  29. The soul is healed by being with children. – Fyodor Dostoyevski
  30. Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. – General George S. Patton
  31. A great wind is blowing. That gives you either imagination or a headache. – Catherine the Great
  32. The really happy person is the one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour. – Anonymous
  33. The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. – Babe Ruth
  34. Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere. – Chinese Proverb
  35. Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not. – Robert F. Kennedy
  36. I celebrate myself and sing myself. – Walt Whitman
  37. Has fortune dealt you some bad cards? Then let wisdom make you a good gamester. – Francis Quarles

Bonus Gratitude Quote

I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all. – Laura Ingalls Wilder

Feel free to print these or take a screen shot and save them. You can also pick up my printable and digital reflective journal for teachers in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. You might choose to pick one at the beginning of the week, and focus on it in your writing. Or you might think it’s better to just use it one day during the week. You might have another idea entirely.

Reflective journal animated preview

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Gratitude writing in a reflective journal can change your mindset and your day. The sweet, simple things of life are just as important as the big things.” quote=”Gratitude writing in a reflective journal can change your mindset and your day. ‘I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.’- Laura Ingalls Wilder” theme=”style3″]

Do you have other reflective journal prompts that are meaningful to you? Ones that other teachers and writers might enjoy? You can leave them in the comments.