Taylor Mali




Spoken word poetry is an art I would one day like to perform. This relevant, funny and exemplary poetry by Taylor Mali gives one more reason to be a teacher.

A friendly reminder to all the teachers that we are making a difference both in small and big ways. Below you can read the whole script.


What Teachers Make

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 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 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 this policy about honesty and ass-­‐kicking:

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 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 go to the bathroom?
Because you’re bored.
And you don’t really have to go to the bathroom, do you?

I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:

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 said today.
To the biggest bully in the grade, he said,
“Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don’t you?
It’s no big deal.”
And that was 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’ve got this,

then you follow this,

and if someone ever tries to judge you

by what you make, you give them this.

Here, let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:

Teachers make a goddamn difference! Now what about you?