What Do Teachers Make?


Adopted from the Readers Digest March 2015
By Taylor Mali from the Book “What Teachers make: In Praise of the Greatest job in the world
A searing retort puts a dinner companion in his place when he asks What do teachers make?
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 its true what they say about teachers:
Those who can do; those who cant teach.
I decide to bite his tongue instead of his and resist the temptation to remind the dinner guests that its also true what they say about lawyers. Because we are eating and after all this is a polite conversation.
I mean you are 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 this policy about honesty and ass kicking
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 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 wont I let you go to the bathroom?
Because you are 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 today.
To the biggest bully in the grade he said,
“leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes; don’t you? Its no big deal.”
And that 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 can make? I make kids wonder,
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologise and I mean it.
I make them 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 in the final draft in English.
I make them understand that if you’ve got this (a brain), then you follow this (a heart), and if someone ever tries to judge you by what you make, you give them this (the finger)
Here let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
Teachers make a difference
Now what about you?

NB: Taylor Mali was a teacher for nine years before becoming a full-time poet, Lecturer and teaching advocate


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