Whenever I come across good material for teachers, I get a strong urge to share it. All those passionate about teaching will truly enjoy this poem by Taylor Mali. He is a "former teacher turned slam poet, who for over 15 years has been reciting impassioned poems about teaching and everything that goes along with the job." A little about Mali, written by Stacey Hollenbeck in Teacher Magazine:
The former president of Poetry Slam Incorporated, Mali has been featured on HBO’s “Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry” series and even created and starred in a one-man show called “Teacher! Teacher!,” which was named best solo performance at the 2001 U. S. Comedy Arts Festival.
Mali says his poetry about teaching has received a dramatic and rewarding response.
“I started to get people e-mailing me or telling me that they had decided to become a teacher partly because of the passion with which I spoke about the profession,” he said.
Mali began keeping track of the effect he was having on others. In 2000, he established a goal of inspiring 1,000 people to become teachers by 2006.
“I thought by the time 2006 comes, I will certainly have either reached this goal or totally forgotten that I ever had it. When 2006 came, and I didn’t have my 1,000 teachers yet, but I was just hovering around 100, I thought, ‘Scrap the deadline; I’m going to just keep doing it. And if it takes me until I’m 75, so be it.’”
Mali now has nearly 170 new and aspiring teachers, whom he calls his latest heroes, listed on his Web site. Many, like Barajas (number 169), never considered teaching before hearing Mali’s poetry."
The poem he wrote, which became very famous:
What Teachers Make
What Teachers Make, or
Objection Overruled, or
If things don't work out, you can always go to law school
By Taylor Mali
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 it's true what they say about
Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.
I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the temptation 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 company.
"I mean, you¹re a teacher, Taylor," he says.
"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:
if you ask for it, 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 won't I let you get a drink of water?
Because you're not thirsty, you're bored, that's why.
I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:
I hope I haven't called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something Billy said today.
Billy said, "Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don't you?"
And it 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 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 I make them read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely
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 on their final drafts in English.
I make them understand that if you got this (brains)
then you follow this (heart) and if someone ever tries to judge you
by 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?
This is a TED video for teachers to view: