what do teachers make?


Via Loren Webster, this wonderful poem by Taylor Mali:

What Teachers Make, or You can always go to law school if things don't work out

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 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, youπre 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
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?


I had to read this one twice and will save it.

My mother was a teacher by choice, a natural talent. She never mentioned the money. She didn't do it to make a living, she did it to make a difference.

Thanks for sharing this.

I've always wanted to try my hand at teaching, to see if I could really do it. You have to have a lot of courage and pretty thick skin to be able to really impact someone's life. I have a lot of respect for teachers, professors, and even those who teach with no title but an unofficial "educator".

Thanks Liz, now you know why I'm such a sycophant to you guys ;)

On the other hand...

After working as an elementary school librarian in North Carolina for over 5 years I was making $25k a year. I loved my job, loved working with kids and felt a sense of accomplishment and worth in my work that I had never felt before.

However, there the financial toll was unavoidable. After five years my wife looked at me and said, "We aren't making it."

And she was right.

So I changed jobs, all but doubled my take-home pay and we're coming closer to "making it."

Still, I miss working with kids (even more than I miss having my summers off!).


My favourite bumper-sticker :-

If you can read this - thank a teacher.

My daughter-in-law is a young second grade teacher with a lifetime of wonderful work ahead of her. I'm sending this to her.

My dad was a teacher and would've loved this. Thank you.

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This page contains a single entry published on June 13, 2003 9:45 AM.

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