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What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  1,083 Ratings  ·  177 Reviews
The right book at the right time: an impassioned defense of teachers and why our society needs them now more than ever.
Former middle-school teacher and teachers' advocate Taylor Mali struck a chord with his passionate response to a man at a dinner party who asked him what kind of salary teachers make-a poetic rant that has been seen and forwarded millions of times on Face
ebook, 224 pages
Published March 1st 2012 by Putnam Adult (first published January 1st 2012)
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Aug 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a high school English teacher, I am always a fan of books that promote teaching and encourage us to take a fresh look at one of the most influential and important positions in America. I was thrilled after glancing at Taylor Mali's book, and while I was excited to read it at the beginning, by the end, I was fairly disappointed.
Mali has a strong introduction, explaining how the poem which shares the same title as the book, came about, and how his career evolved as a result of this poem (he no
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What Teachers Make is similiar to many teacher memoirs, except that it isn’t. Even though former classroom teacher and poet, author Taylor Mali, doesn’t exactly ignore the problems with the educational system in America, he also doesn’t dwell on issues not soon resolved. In both his poem, “What Teachers Make,” and in this novel, he instead chooses to focus on the lost art of respecting teachers and the job they do every day.

I don’t have my license yet (though I spend tons of time in classrooms)
What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World by Taylor Mali is a very comforting book to read if you are a teacher (if you're not a teacher, you probably won't read it, which is a shame). In a series of vignettes, Mali depicts some of the challenges and rewards of teaching. Like parenthood, with even less narcissistic gratification, teaching is a career that no one would choose looking simply at a cost/benefits analysis. It is a vocation in which the many hours of drudgery are ...more
Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had not heard of Mali's poem "What Teachers Make" before I picked up this book. There's been a steady stream of books written by teachers about their profession. Some are how-to books (like Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56), some are humorous, anecdotal send-ups (like 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny: Life Lessons from Teaching), others show a more problematic reality of public schools (like Educating ESME: Diary of a Teacher's First Year). Some are bi ...more
May 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
I loved this book!

Taylor Mali wrote the poem What Teachers Make after a party where he was at where a lawyer was putting down teachers. He vented his frustrations and performed the poem at a poetry slam. From there it just spread. He started doing presentations and eventually wrote this book.

There are lots of parts of this book that I really liked. I really like his explanation for when a kid asks,""When are we ever going to need this in real life?" the answer is not what they expect: never.
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Taylor Mali combines sobering truths with humorous anecdotes about the perils and joys of teaching. This little book sheds light on the field of teaching and its merits as well as its hardships but Taylor Mali reinforces the idea that teachers do make a difference - if you're the kind of person who wants to change a student's life or have had a teacher change your life, this book is worth reading.
Whenever I feel especially frustrated and depressed about the state of education, I pull up Taylor Mali's youtube performance of this poem. I watch his fierceness and I feel better. So, I was thrilled to find this book, and wallowed in the deliciousness for a couple of days. I found lines and pages and poems that made me so grateful to have chosen this profession...or to have been chosen by this profession.

I have seen Mali perform this poem at the SOS Rally in DC...I told people who were all ago
Apr 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mali really excels at the short essay. Quips and anecdotes from his teaching days and other times with poems interspersed throughout. I don't know how many people need to be reminded that teaching is important, and yes there are awful teachers, but there are incredibly wonderful teachers. Mali delves into what teachers make besides money, why they do it, his most rewarding experiences, and the problems facing teachers these days. His analysis that anyone who thinks teachers are greedy and use th ...more
Taylor Mali is a warrior for teachers. I watch his "What Teachers Make" poem at least once a month for inspiration when I'm feeling defeated.

This little book says so much of what teachers actually make. Some of the stories had me laughing out loud and some had me emotional. Although I've decided that teachers have a different sense of humor than everyone else. At my school, all someone has to do is mention "HoneyBun Boy" during lunch and the whole lounge
Mar 03, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like the people who will read this book are the people who already agree with everything in this book. It's the people who don't agree and who treat teachers like second-class citizens and worthless contributors to society who probably won't read this book, but those are the people who need to read this book. The author, Taylor Mali, was a teacher for nine years, and he writes a lot about his personal experiences in the classroom. This is a short book with even shorter chapters, so it's a ...more
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book. This book is one I carry like a bible. This is the REASON I wanted to be a teacher, Taylor, an amazing poet, took the words from my heart and put them into a poem. A poem that became popular and a poem that is the core of my soul. I give this book as a gift to my child's teachers, to my teacher friends because some days are rough but we know what teachers make and its what makes us a teacher.
Victoria Haf
Oct 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Es un libro corto e inspirador, no sé que tanta relación con la profesión de profesor tenga la gente pero yo me siento cercana, tuve muchos buenos maestros, mis papás son maestros, quien me lo prestó fue maestra de inglés un buen rato y yo misma lo fui por 6 meses cuando tenía 18 años jajaja
Es real, la educación es de lo más importante y es una lástima que no se valore como trabajo, el que escribió este libro es muy apasionado y tiene buenas historias que contar
Apr 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone should read this-- not just teachers.
Aug 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book! Taylor Mali is an extraordinary inspiration to all teachers, and opens the eyes of those who don't know what teachers really do. Thank you for the inspiration, Taylor :)
Brandon Cline
Jul 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book for teachers ... Easy to read !!!
Paul  Hankins
I CANNOT WAIT TO READ THIS ONE. Available in March 2012, but I knew my teacher friends would want to see this right away. Adding to list now. . .
Jun 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As an aspiring secondary school teacher, I was extremely excited to read this memoir. A friend forwarded me Mali's What a Teacher Makes poetry performance and I was hooked. I wanted to hear more from this guy so I went online and bought his book.

Mali writes well and immediately engages the reader with personal anecdotes. Unfortunately that's all this book is: personal accounts of random and disjointed moments in his teaching career. Honestly the content seemed thrown together. I was expecting m
Debbie Boucher
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The perfect end-of-the-year gift for your favorite teacher, this book was given to my husband who in retirement is a mentor to new teachers. As a thank-you present, he received What Teachers Make and passed it on to me. I loved it as well. It almost makes me want to go back to the classroom. Almost. I look forward to the class I teach at the UCSB Valentine Reserve in July, but otherwise I'm done, even if a few tempting overseas offers have come our way as of late. But back to the book, you don't ...more
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
This is a great book to remind you about those little joys in teaching. The poetry and quotes interspersed throughout add to the charm.
I read this because I watched a video of his performing his poem, "What Teachers Make". The book is a little memoir of some of the author's teaching experiences added to his defense of teachers and their work.
A quick read. Most of it won't be new to anyone familiar with Mali's poetry, but there are a few nuggets worth sharing and discussing with colleagues. Most of all, Mali's admiration for teachers who continue to do the work is palpable on every page, and though he is no longer in the classroom, he's still teaching.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice little book celebrating teachers and all they do. I love Mali's poem "What Teachers Make" and I enjoyed reading his suggestions to fit all of the things he mentions in his poem. There were a few things I didn't agree with, but at the heart of it all is respect for those working with children.
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A fantastic mix of essays and poetry, my favorite being "Tony Steinberg: Brave Seventh Grade Viking Warrior" which made me cry.
Peter Maurer
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was incredibly insightful and inspiring. I cannot say I would ever feel up up the immense challenge of being a teacher, however, I have a greater respect for those out there who do. I truly wish our country better honored those who teach.
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Didn't always love the writing style or poetry, but it had heart and I agreed with the soul of the message.
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
very inspirational as a green teacher. I learned some important lessons and reevaluated some of my own strategies.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Teachers need to read this before they start a new school year :)
Samantha Simmons
The poem is my favorite poem. If you're a teacher and feel kicked down, read it and listen to Mali recite the poem to feel the fire that led you to this job in the first place.
This book was written in response to a lawyer who, unsurprisingly these days, had nothing good to say about teachers. And Mali overheard him and a poem resulted from it called "What Teachers Make." Now, in the original confrontation, Mali didn't say anything, but the next day, he wrote the poem, which got a HUGE amount of recognition over the years.

I actually really enjoyed this book. Mali talked about his experiences as a teacher. He talked about how the greatest moments weren't because of what
Jackie Intres
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anyone in educational policy, research or development needs to shut up and listen to practitioners like this.
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On New Year's Eve of 1997 Taylor Mali attended a dinner party where one of the guests, a young, arrogant lawyer, made it clear his opinion about the teaching profession: one must be of impaired intelligence to choose a career that paid so little money and earned such little respect.

While Mali could not find the proper words to put the man in his place on that particular night, his anger at that encounter resulted in one of the most famous diatribes to ever come out of the teaching profession.

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Taylor Mali is a former teacher and classically trained actor who now makes his living as a professional poet. One of the original poets to appear on the HBO series Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry, he is a veteran of the poetry slam and the author of What Learning Leaves and several spoken word CDs and DVDs. He lives and writes in New York City. For more information, visit ...more
More about Taylor Mali...
“And I want to tell her… [that] changing your mind is one of the best ways of finding out whether or not you still have one.” 3 likes
“There is no better outcome of one’s education, which the American philosopher William Durant called “a progressive discovery of our ignorance.” 0 likes
More quotes…