Thursday, March 26, 2009

What Does A Teacher Make? A Message for Everyone...

Update: As several of my readers have pointed out, the following is adapted from a poem, "What Teachers Make", written by former teacher and poet Taylor Mali. His words have inspired thousands of teachers. I strongly urge you to view his powerful performance of this poem on YouTube or visit his website.

One of my favorite quotes of his is:
MALI:’s more important for me to love my students than it is for them to like me.

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.

One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued,
"What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in
life was to become a teacher?"

He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers: "Those
who can, do.. Those who can't, teach."

To stress his point he said to another guest; "You're a teacher, Bonnie.
Be honest. What do you make?"

Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, "You want
to know what I make? (She paused for a second, then began...)

"Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.

I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor winner.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can't
make them sit for 5 without an I Pod, Game Cube or movie rental.

You want to know what I make?" (She paused again and looked at each and
every person at the table.)

I make kids wonder.

I make them question.

I make them apologize and mean it.

I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.

I teach them to write and then I make them write. Keyboarding isn't

I make them read, read, read.

I make them show all their work in math. They use their God given brain,
not the man-made calculator.

I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know
about English while preserving their unique cultural identity.

I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.

I make my students stand, placing their hand over their heart to say the
Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, One Nation Under God, because we live in
the United States of America.

Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were
given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.

(Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.)

"Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money
isn't everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because
they are ignorant.... You want to know what I make?

I MAKE A DIFFERENCE. What do you make, Mr. CEO?"

His jaw dropped, he went silent.


Sean Henderson said...

Saw this video a while back. The social studies teacher across the hall showed it to me. It's right along those same lines.

Anonymous said...

Damn straight, Bonnie!

Dave Marain said...

Keep on keeping on, Sean and Anon...

That video is precious. I may post it on this blog if I'm allowed to.

I may be re-tired but I'm never 'tired' of hearing great teachers speak the truth with passion. Taylor Mali (if I got that right) expressed it all!

It's all about society's values and the true worth of every individual.

Ms. Ashton said...

This poem was actually written by Taylor Mali. He does wonderful spoken word poetry about teaching. If you liked "What Teachers Make" you should check out some of the others too:

Dave Marain said...

Thank you Ms. Ashton...
This post came from an email I rec'd. I didn't know the source but now I can give credit where it's due! I visited Taylor Mali's site and saw many of his YouTube videos. Although some are not appropriate for the younger viewers who visit this blog, I thoroughly enjoyed his performances. Creatively brilliant guy who appreciates the power of language. I have a feeling we will be hearing a lot more from him.

"What Does A Teacher Make?" is a classic piece. I know that the dedicated teachers out there will look at that and scream, "Right On!" Taylor says what we all have wanted to say forever.