Monday, September 19, 2011


"What a Teacher Makes"

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,

"You know, it's true what they say about teachers:
That those who can, do; 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 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 wanna know what I make?

I make kids sit through forty minutes of study hall
in absolute silence.
No, you can not work in groups.
No, you can not 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 wanna 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 somebody tries to judge you based 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. What about you?

---Taylor Mali

Usually I don't give ya'll such a long quote to read, but I saw this and was instantly in love with it. As a future teacher, I know the facts.

I will not make a six figure salary. I will be content to scramble around with whatever I get.

My hours will be long and yes, I will get summers off. But those summers will be spent planning for the next class and bettering myself so my students will learn better.

Not every student in my classroom will actually want to learn from me. Some will hate me and I won't understand why. Some will just not want to learn. Others will try and no matter what I do, will not get it. They can't all win, as much as I will try.

Allow me to wax philosophical, if you will. Not that I really control you. I mean, you can stop reading this at any time.

That's nice. Free will. You can stop reading at any time and I won't be mad. I won't even know. Hell, you could think me the most abominable monster of a person you've ever met and I won't know.

See, out there is a whole world of people who have a different opinion than I do. And it's wonderful. I love it. Because some of us will agree on some levels and disagree on others, and we can still be friends. Heck, sometimes my closest, oldest friends and I don't always see eye to eye and it just makes me love them more.

Which is a silly thing in itself. I mean, sometimes we love people we are in constant conflict with. Certainly I know I have friends that I cannot agree with to save my soul, but I love them all the same. Why? Because we are compatible on some level. We have the same values. Sometimes it's the smallest thing that starts a friendship and then it just keeps blooming. Like my knitting group. We united with a love of knitting, continued with a love of theatre, and continue to share a love of various geeky things.

Isn't it fun to go back and place when and where a friendship started? Sometimes it's not where you think or it's different for the both of you. Like my friend Ashlyn. I recall meeting her in seventh grade and then our friendship just blossomed. Partly because we loved the same things and partly because we needed each other. But I know that we both remember seventh grade as a starting point. Now my friend Bobert I recall very clearly for the first time in January of 2010, although I get the feeling we've known each other for longer. I'm sure he could tell me when and where we met if we met before. And of course, there's Jim. Niether once of us can remember when we met. I swear it was elementary school, but he thinks it was middle school. All I know is that I don't recall him not hanging around (not that it's a bad thing)

Some people you've just known all your life. My friend Emma (and thus, her sister Julia and brother Jimmy) have been with me so long that for many many years I was convinced that we were actually cousins. They've just always been there.

These are the people (and many, many more who I simply don't have space to mention) that I will have with me as I go on to teach children. These are the people who make a difference in MY life who continue to influce me as I'll make a difference in someone else's life.

End philosophical blog post.

Song of the Day: Time of Your Life by Greenday

<3 Erin


  1. Yay for teaching. Yay for friends. =)

  2. no! Jimmy beat me to it!

    Love this post. LOVE love LOVE Taylor Mali. You've seen his video performing that poem, right? Also watch "Like Lily Like Wilson"

    virtual high-five, non-blood cuz.