Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What do teachers make?

Perhaps your initial response to this question is, like mine, "Who Cares?" Just hold that thought and watch this video. Slight disclaimer - I really don't know much about Taylor Mali, but I found his message to be inspiring and hysterical, I cried and I laughed, especially right now, facing back-to-school.


Thanks to blogger jenamoured for sharing the link!

Please watch the video because Mali's poetry slam is what MAKES the point, and the video includes the "prologue" story. Here is the transcript anyway, the best I could do - so we can read the words and see/hear his reading in our minds. (P.S. - Mali's website explains the story behind the poem, and other sites provide the words as well)

What do teachers make?
by Taylor Mali

I make kids work harder than they thought they ever could,
I can make a C plus feel like a congressional medal of honor,
and I can make an A minus feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time with anything less?
You wanna know what I make?
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall in absolute silence.
No, you cannot work in groups.
No, you cannot 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 around dinnertime.
Hi, this is Mr. Mali, I hope I haven’t called at a bad time.
I just want 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 I’ve ever seen.
I make parents see their children for who they are and who they can be.
You wanna 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,
and I make them spell, definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful,
over and over again, until they will never misspell either of those words again,
I make them show all their work in math,
and then hide it on their final draft in English,
I make them realize that you got this (point at head) then follow this (point at heart).
And if someone tries to judge you based on what you make,
Then you give them this (raise middle finger)
Let me break it down for you
Let me break it down for you so you know what I say is true,
I make a g-d-m difference
What about you?


yh said...

That was a really good poem... I really wish teachers would do that.. because then perhaps the kids these days will have more respect for themselves and others... and not act like punk fools as many do...

Does it come from home? Does this act come from the media? Does it come from their friends? Who knows? If more kids would make a bigger effort to NOT be punks.. and be better then I think we would all be happy..

I think teachers have a hand in on the change.. if only they could really do it... if only kids can respond to teachers the way they respond to entertainers...

Jayme said...

I wasn't able to watch the video of this, but I really liked the poem. You could feel passion, which is what I think several teachers lack. You can always tell who the teachers are that actually care about what they are doing and think they can make a difference. They are usually the toughest teachers, but I guarentee that by taking thier class you will learn. Great Poem.

jenamoured said...

every time someone starts giving me crap about school and being a teacher, i secretly give them the finger in my head. and then i say stuff like this.

Tricia Grissom said...

Wow. He blows you away.

Sometimes as a college teacher I don't feel like I make as much difference as you guys in the trenches of elementary and high school. But one of my students told me the other day that she felt like she got herself back by succeeding in my class. I guess even grown-ups need encouragement sometimes.

Even if that only happens for a few people over the years I teach, it makes it all worth it.

Thanks for posting this.

Orchid in the Bronx said...

Teachers walk on water, as far as I'm concerned. I tried it once (teaching, college freshmen) and was not very good at it, so if Mr. Mali, or any other teacher for that matter, wants to get in anyone's face, more power to him!