Songs about teachers really run the gamut, sometimes in unfortunate (see: inappropriate) ways.
There are a lot of songs about hating school by songwriters who wouldn’t know how to write lyrics if someone hadn’t taught them how to write.
There are a lot of songs about loving teacher a little too much.
Basically, when it comes to songs about teachers, it’s a really, really mixed bag.
But there are also a few truly inspiring songs about teachers, songs teachers can relate to, to get through another hectic, under-appreciated day at school.
Here are our favorite songs about teachers and teaching.
Songs About Teaching
Many songs about teaching are vague or general, focused on what one generation can pass onto the next, not about teachers in the more formal sense of the word.
But they still certainly apply to teachers who teach for a living.
Many of these are cautionary tales. I know! Inspiring, right?
They can be if they help us remember everything we pass onto children determines the state of the world, either continuing vicious cycles we’ve created or helping us to overcome them.
Teach Your Children (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
Perhaps no place is the message “We are what life (and others) teaches us” stronger than in this song.
The intergenerational push-pull is intense, and that makes for a lovely opportunity for a twist in the lyrics.
It’s called “Teach Your Children,” but the second verse assures us children can also teach their parents, and, in turn, we all get a little closer to true knowledge.
Power Lyric: You, of tender years, can’t know the fears that your elders grew by
Children Will Listen (Bernadette Peters from Broadway’s Into the Woods)
Monkey see, monkey do.
That’s the main theme of this song.
Research has proven that children don’t just learn what we try to teach them, but also through observation.
As adults, we are always teaching, even when we don’t mean to be, and we must be conscious of the fact.
Power Lyric: Children may not obey, but children will listen
You Can’t Blame the Youth (Peter Tosh)
Despite its groovy, happy-go-lucky rhythm, this song has a helluva message about how we can’t blame children for what they do and who they become when we’re the ones responsible for filling their heads.
It’s mostly about the praise of violent behavior begetting more violent behavior, but it holds true for all things – what we teach kids, they will learn.
Power Lyric: You can’t blame the youth / You can’t fool the youths
Mr. Wendal (Arrested Development)
This is a different sort of teaching song about those things we can’t learn in school.
The protagonist gets his education from a homeless man who opens his eyes and mind (and, in turn, our eyes and minds) in numerous ways.
(If you’re on the side of critical race theory, and the importance of teaching our past and present in an honest light, this song carries even greater weight.)
Power Lyric: Uncivilized we call him, but I just saw him eat off the food we waste
Greatest Love of All (Whitney Houston)
When it comes to the sort of impact teachers can have, this song is a powerhouse.
Teaching is about more than filling a child’s head with facts.
It’s about giving students the mental tools and confidence they need to lead a full and individual life.
The protagonist of the song never finds her hero, but, as a teacher, you have the potential to be that hero every student needs.
Power Lyric: I decided long ago never to walk in anyone’s shadows
Songs About Teachers
Though most of the above teaching songs aren’t about teachers specifically, there are some songs written explicitly about teachers.
Even a few that don’t focus on students’ intense… ahem… like of their teachers.
These songs aren’t all positive (of course, they aren’t!), but they do offer some insight into the effect teachers can have on their students’ lives – both good and bad.
Just keep in mind, the list gets happier as it goes on.
It has to.
After the first song, there’s nowhere to go but up.
Nothing (from Broadway’s A Chorus Line)
The relationship between a student and an acting teacher who discourages her and singles her out is the basis of this song.
It’s a reminder to all teachers that, while you can be inspiring and beneficial to a student’s self-esteem, you can be uninspiring and detrimental too.
Power Lyric: This man is nothing! This course is nothing!
The Future’s So Bright – Timbuk 3
Sounds optimistic, doesn’t it? Don’t worry! It isn’t!
Perhaps one of the most misunderstood songs of all time, it probably has a little something to do with its boppin’ music (that harmonica solo!) and ironic chorus.
The future’s so bright? Sounds great!
But as kickin’ as the beat is, this song is actually bleak as hell.
The protagonist may like his teacher, but what exactly is he learning from him?
Hint: That bright future that requires shades?
It’s the intense light of nuclear bombs.
Power Lyric: The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades
School of Rock (Jack Black from the movie School of Rock)
Whew. Finally, we’ve made it past the “bad teacher” portion of this list into more neutral territory.
The lyrics of this song may still hate school, but at least they like the teacher!
At its base, this song is really about providing inspiration and individual freedom along with your core lessons.
Power Lyric: Raise my hand before I could speak my mind / I’ve been biting my tongue too many times
Thank You Songs for Teachers
Finally. Just when it seems most songs about teachers are unflattering, a couple of gems remind us of all the GOOD teachers do.
These songs dedicated to teachers are a bit cheesy, but that’s the entire point.
They are like Hallmark cards wrapped in holiday movies wrapped in a big bear hug by your Uncle Joe.
If you are looking for happy Teacher’s Day songs or teacher appreciation songs, these are the ones you want.
I Make a Difference (Linda Davis)
The most dead-on song about the impact teachers have, teachers will feel many of these lyrics down to their cores.
It’s pretty accurate with lots of little asides that apply only to teaching.
For a reason I haven’t been able to discern, there exist two lyrical versions of this song that tell different stories.
The original is about a dinner conversation.
The other is about a teacher’s retirement. The former is the original.
The latter is definitely better. Maybe that’s why it got a re-cut?
Regardless, it’s a nice song about teachers getting the respect they deserve.
Power Lyric: I believe to teach is to touch a life forever
Believing in Me (Regine Velasquez)
Another song about teacher impact, this one comes from the point of view of a student. (As most teacher songs do.)
There’s a heavy “thank you” vibe the whole way through – let’s face it, the song was written with the full intention of making teachers cry – and actually incorporates a thank you lyric.
“Believing in Me” is the official theme song of Gabay Guro, a foundation with the mission of improving the welfare of teachers in the Philippines.
Power Lyric: I look up to you for all that you are
You Raise Me Up (Josh Groban – or the original, Secret Garden with Brian Kennedy)
When Josh Groban had a number one Adult Contemporary hit with this song, he said, for him, it was about God.
But the song’s writer, Rolf Løvland of Secret Garden, is less definitive.
He’s implied it can be about anyone who does this for us.
It could even be about you on a good day.
Power Lyric: I am strong when I am on your shoulders
Inspirational Songs for Teachers
Okay. So, we’ve made it through our songs about teachers.
But what about the songs for teachers?
Teaching is not an easy job.
And, in some states and school districts, it’s harder than others.
Staying motivated through the ups and downs can be difficult.
These motivational songs for teachers are about channeling that extra bit of strength to make it through the school year.
Believe in You (Amanda Marshall)
A great go-to song for any time a person is feeling a little intimidated by their purpose or mission in life.
And it serves dual purpose.
It can be about the teacher or the student.
Power Lyric: All I want to do is help you to believe in you
Brave (Sara Bareilles)
Let’s face it, as a teacher, it sometimes feels like you are David facing the Goliath of budgetary restraints and outside interference.
A lot of your students may feel as if they are facing their own Goliaths of lessons they can’t quite grasp, growing up, and bullies.
Again, this is a great cross-over song for both teacher and student about digging down deep and finding your courage.
Power Lyric: Let your words be anything but empty / Why don’t you tell them the truth?
In a world that disregards teachers and everything they give while holding up the rich and powerful as celebrities, where darkness keeps on coming no matter how much light we try to shine at it, it can be hard to stay in the good fight.
This song is about using what you have, no matter how small it might seem in the grand scheme of things, to keep pushing forward towards a better future.
It could very well be an anthem for teachers.
Power Lyric: We’ll fight, not out of spite / For someone must stand up for what’s right
Other Songs About Teachers
And just like that, we’ve reached the end of our song list for teachers – the ones we think have the most to actually offer teachers, that is.
But that doesn’t mean we’ve exhausted the supply of songs about teachers.
Not by a long shot.
Here are a few of the songs that didn’t make our list.
‘I Want to Bang My Teacher’ Songs
There are so many versions of this type of song, I think it’s safe to say a lot of students want to bang their teachers.
Whether or not you find this inspiring is up to you.
- Hot for Teacher – Van Halen
- Teacher’s Pet – Doris Day (Covered by Christy Carlson Romano)
- Teacher I Need You – Elton John
- The Art Teacher – Rufus Wainwright
- Mr. Watson – Ke$ha
- Abigail Beecher – Freddy Cannon
Then, there are the rest.
“Another Brick in the Wall Part 2” by Pink Floyd is, perhaps, the most famous of the anti-school/anti-teacher sentiment songs.
It makes sense, given its no-holds-barred, not-at-all-subtle hook – “Hey, Teacher! Leave them kids alone.”
And it does have its place.
Just maybe not on a list of songs for and about inspiring teachers.