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What Teachers Make, or You Can Always Go to Law School If Things Don't Work Out

Posted: 2004-08-16

You can find more poems at www.taylormali.com

It would be a useful activity if all teachers in the land made a list of what they make kids do.



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 teachers:

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 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, you?re 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.

I make them read, read, read.

I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful

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?

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