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“What Teachers Make”

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Old but classic video. To all the teachers I am reminded of every time I listen to this slam poem by Taylor Mali: this is for you.

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?” (hahaha)
He reminds the other dinner guests that it’s true what they say about
teachers:
Those who can, do; and those who can’t, teach. (hahaha)

I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the urge to remind the other dinner guests
that it’s also true what they say about lawyers.

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

“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:
which is if you ask for it, then I have to let you have it.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional medal of honor
and I can make an A- feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time with anything less than your very best.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall
in absolute silence.
No, you can not work in groups.
No, you can’t ask a question, so put your hand down.
Why won’t I let you go to the bathroom?
Because you’re bored and you don’t really have to go, do you?

You want to know what I make?

I make parents tremble in fear when I call home at around dinner time:
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 did today.
He said, “Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don’t you?”
And it was the noblest act of courage that I have ever seen.

I make parents see their children for who they are
and who they can be.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write, write, write.
And then I make them read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely
beautiful
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 then hide it on their final drafts in English.
I make them realize that if you got this (brains)
then you follow this (heart) and if someone ever tries to judge you
based on what you make, you give them this (the finger).

Let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
I make a goddamn difference! Now what about you?

By Taylor Mali
www.taylormali.com

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Categories: art, humor, memories, school, video
  1. other
    January 26, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Love it! I counselor in a high school and was so deeply in need of something like this!

    • January 31, 2010 at 10:58 pm

      Isn’t it great? I’m glad you liked it. I think it’s a necessary message and an important reminder of how much of an impact teachers and counselors have on us!

  2. Dov
    January 27, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Absolutely Loverly 😉

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