What Teachers Make ~ by Taylor Mali
He says the problem with teachers is,“What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided that his best option in life is to become a teacher?”
He reminds the other dinner guests that, “You know it’s true what they say about teachers: Those who can, do; and those who can’t, teach.”
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 supposed to be polite conversation.
“I mean, you’re a teacher, Taylor. Come on, 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 little 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 may not work in groups. No, you can not ask me 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?’
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 that your son said today.
(To the biggest bully in the grade,) he said, “Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don’t you?” And it was noblest act of courage that 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.
And then make them 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 class and then hide it on their final drafts in English.
I make them realize that if you’ve got this (mind),
then you follow this (heart), and if someone ever tries to judge you by what you make, you give them this (a pounding).
Here, let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
Teachers make a damn difference! Now what about you?”
Watch Taylor Mali performing it here.