Christian Long

Taylor Mali: What Teachers Make

In TED Talks on May 9, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Reflection by EMMA L.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Taylor Mali: What Teachers Make

Ever heard the phase “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach”?

Teachers: teach, build character, discipline, make us laugh, cry, and try, allow us to discover ourselves in ways our parents and friends can not. The word teacher is misleading. For teachers do so much more for us than we give credit for. Students do not become educators because it is their last resort. They become educators because there is nothing else in the world that makes them happier. Students should strive to find what they are passionate about and work in a profession that uses their talent, not become something because of “what you make”.

Teachers are our coaches, whether one truly is on the field or only in the classroom. They push us to limits unimaginable, yet each day we set the bar higher and higher. Teachers show us beyond the grade. They show us how a “C+ can feel like a Congressional medal of honor” and how an “A- can feel like a slap in the face”. Teachers document and reveal our progress from start to finish. They congratulate us when we finally step back to see the big picture rather than the so called important tiny details. Teachers make us feel like we are part of the big universal team we call Earth.

Teachers introduce us to reality. They show us how to make the risks that set you apart from the rest and how to tell if you have gone too far. How procrastination can get the best of us and second chances are hard to get. Teachers remind us how every person has something to contribute and one day they could be the one who would make or break a job opportunity. Teachers know the tricks, cheats and acts so do not bother your time doing them. Practice and discover how to become successful; this is what they are here for.

Teachers are our mentors. They are here for us whenever we need them. Teachers write, grade and rewrite lessons, tests, and assignments to give their students the best ways possible of learning. They offer advice when you think there is nothing else you can do. Teachers go out of their ways to bring the best resources to the classroom and introduce more outside. They are not here to be our friends yet inside they love all of their students. Teachers give us the tools to be successful, it is our turn to take what was given to us to create and do what matters. Teachers are our stepping stones to success.

Teachers make a difference every day… What will you do?

Here is the poem by Taylor Mali:

“What Teachers Make, or
Objection Overruled, or
If things don’t work out, you can always go to law school”

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 other 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, 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?


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