The poem ‘What Teachers Make’ is not without its detractors. This one person wrote to me and said: ‘Gee, Mr. Mali. You don’t possibly have a teacher-God complex, do you?’ And that was the first time I’d ever heard of that expression. So, yeah, I’m sure I have a teacher-God complex.
No graduation speaker will ever tell you that the future is anything but uncertain. It never is. But graduations need not only be obsessed with looking ahead; a graduation can be a day on which we turn back and trace our steps to see how we ended up where we are.
Teachers today are breaking down obstacles, finding innovative ways to instill old lessons, proving that greatness can be found in everyday places.
One of the most important things that teachers teach students is you, you can work harder. You are mentally tougher than you think.
If you’ve ever been to a poetry slam, you know that the highest scoring emotion is self-righteous indignation: how dare you judge me. So in that way, the poem, ‘What Teachers Make,’ is an absolutely formulaic slam poem designed to allow me to get up on my soap box and say, ‘Let me tell you what really makes me angry.’
I grew up writing thank-you notes. Real, honest-to-goodness, pen-and-ink, stamped and posted letters. More than simple habit, it’s about what the commitment to expressing your thoughts and feelings in writing says about the character of the writer. About the joy such notes bring to the reader.
In many ways, ‘What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World’ is just one big thank-you note to my teachers. The book is dedicated to my fifth and sixth grade English teacher, Dr. Joseph D’Angelo, a massive force of erudition, martial artistry, culture, and love.
When students have thanked me in the past for being their teacher, I have always felt that it was actually my love for the art of teaching they were speaking to.
The best teachers that I had were always the ones I never wanted to disappoint.