What Do Teachers Make?

Taylor Mali med spoken word-texten "What ...

Taylor Mali med spoken word-texten “What teachers make” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s post is brought to you by Taylor Mali. Taylor Mali wrote the poem “What Teachers Make” after a lawyer insulted him at a dinner party. In his book,  What Teachers Make, he writes, “Someone needs to remind teachers that they are dearly loved. I’m that guy.”  The poem is below.

http://www1.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=200024 (listen here)

He says the problem with teachers is,

What’s a kid going to learn from someone

 who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?

 He reminds the other dinner guests that it’s true

what they say about teachers:

Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.

I decide to bite my tongue -instead of his-

and resist the temptation to remind the other dinner


that it’s also true what they say about lawyers.

Because we’re eating, after all, and this is a polite


I mean, you’re a teacher, Taylor.

Be honest. What do you make?


And I wish he hadn’t done that-

asked me to be honest-

because, you see, I have a policy

about honesty and ass-kicking:

if you ask for it, I have to let you have it.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids work harder than they ever thought they


I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional medal of


and an A- feel like a slap in the face.

How dare you waste my time with anything less than your

very best.


I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall

in absolute silence. No, you may not work in groups.

No, you may not ask a question.  

Why won’t I let you go to the bathroom?

Because you’re bored.

And you don’t really have to go to the bathroom, do you?


I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:

Hi. This is Mr. Mali. I hope I haven’t called at a bad time,

I just wanted to talk to you about something your son said 


To the biggest bully in the grade, he said, “Leave the kid alone.

I still cry sometimes, don’t you? It’s no big deal.”

And it was the noblest act of courage I have ever seen.

I make parents see their children for who they are

and what they can be.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids wonder,

I make them question.

I make them criticize.

I make them apologize and mean it.

I make them write, write, write.

I make them read, read, read.

I make them spell

definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful,  

definitely beautiful

over and over and

over again until they will never misspell

either one of those words again.

I make them show all their work in math,

and hide it on their final drafts in English.

I make them understand that if you got this (brains)

then you follow this (heart),

and if someone ever tries to judge you

by what you make, you give them this (a finger gesture).

Let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:

Teachers? Teachers make a difference!

Now what about you?





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