‘What Teachers Make’ is a book by Taylor Mali based on his poem by the same name. Readers get to notice Mali's reflective, funny, sharp, critical call to arms about the happiness that comes along with teaching and the reason behind why teachers are so important to the world today.
Even though Mali, a former teacher, doesn’t ignore the problems with the educational system in modern society, he also does not dwell on issues not soon resolved. In both his poem and his novel, he focuses on the lost art of respecting teachers and the job they do every single day. Many of the incidents and memories mentioned in this book are simply meant as examples of what students can do and who they can become when they are instructed by dedicated, creative and invested teachers.
The way he describes both the challenges and rewards of the career is phenomenal. The people Mali touches already have the teacher gene in their DNA; his words speak to that part of us and makes us even more excited to teach others.
Taylor Mali wrote the poem ‘What Teachers Make’, after a party where he came across a lawyer who was talking down upon teachers. It just spread from there and went viral. He began doing presentations, and later wrote this book. Mali includes facts with humorous anecdotes about the risks and pleasures of teaching. This book sheds light on the field of teaching and its merits as well as its hardships, but Taylor Mali constantly reinforces the idea that teachers do make a difference. If you want to change a student's life or have had a teacher change your life, this book is worth reading.
This article originally appeared in the TeacherTribe Magazine September 2020 edition.