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What Teachers Make November 1, 2005

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Taylor Mali delivers a poem in slam poetry style in response to someone asking him how much he makes (earns). The poem addresses teacher's value to society.


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This poem is called 'what teachers make', or 'objection over-ruled', or 'if things don't work out, you can always go to law school'.

He says the problem with teachers is what's a kid going to learn from someone who decided that his best option in life was to become a teacher? (fake laughs)

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.' (fake laughs)

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 - cause ya see I have this little policy in my classroom about honesty and a$$ kickin', 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 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 (mimes: silence).

No you may not work in groups. No you cannot ask me 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 at around dinner time. 'Hi this is Mr. Maly, I hope I haven't called at a bad time, I just wanted to talk to you about something that your son said today in class. To the biggest bully in the grade he said 'leave that kid alone.' I still cry sometimes, don't you? That 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 wonder. I make 'em question. I make 'em criticize. I make 'em apologize and mean it. I make them write, write, write. And then I make them read. I make 'em spell 'definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful', de-fin-itely be-a-utiful. Until they will never misspell either one of those words again. I make 'em show all their work in math class and then hide it in their final drafts in English.

I make 'em realize that if you've got this (points to brain), then you follow this (points to heart), and if somebody ever tries to judge you based on what you make, you give them this (extends middle finger).

Here, let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true - teachers make a God Damn difference, and what about you?

Courtesy of Taylor Mali

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What Teachers Make- November 1, 2005

- Taylor Mali
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