Taylor Mali is a high school teacher, and a slam poet. His poems are in praise of teaching, and are powerful, inspirational, and motivating. What makes a teacher? What makes a good teacher? What makes a great teacher? Passion! There needs to be passion in the teacher, passion in the students, passion in the classroom environment, for an effective result. I think that Taylor’s poems are an inspirational gift to both teachers and students, trying to excel through their education career.
One of Taylor Mali’s most popular works is a teacher appreciation poem – What Teachers Make, fully titled: “What Teachers Make, or Objection Overruled, or If things don’t work out, you can always go to law school”. It starts off talking about teacher salary, but quickly shifts to what teachers make, not how much. And while the poem is a fascinating read, I feel it is even more powerful when heard, as in the following video.
Go ahead and watch the video, it is only 3 minutes long and is well worth its time. Then come back and read the quote of the ending part again.
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?
All of this is completely in sync with my philosophy on life, and the first of 9 rules: 1. Love what you do. 2. Never stop learning. With knowledge in your mind, and passion in your heart – your limits are what you let them be.
So I do want to make a goddamn difference. Becoming a teacher is not too far fetched of an option. One does not need a PhD, or years of teacher’s college (although both certainly help with accreditation). In our hyperactive communication environment of Web 2.0, one simply needs a forum, or a blog, or any other medium to reach a global audience. I just hope someone listens. Thank you.