What Do Teachers Make?

This story has been floating around for a long time. Thanks to Lee for emailing it to me recently. It has some really good reminders in it.

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.

One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, ‘What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?’

He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers: ‘Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.’

To stress his point he said to another guest; ‘You’re a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest. What do you make?’

Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, ‘You want to know what I make? (She paused for a second, then began…)

‘Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.

I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can’t make them sit for 5 without an I Pod, Game Cube or movie rental.

You want to know what I make? (She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table.)

I make kids wonder.

I make them question.

I make them apologize and mean it.

I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.

I teach them to write and then I make them write. Keyboarding isn’t everything.

I make them read, read, read.

I make them show all their work in math. They use their God-given brain, not just the man-made calculator.

I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know in English while preserving their unique cultural identity.

I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.

I make my students stand, placing their hand over their heart to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, One Nation Under God, because we live in The United States of America.

Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.

(Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.)

‘Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn’t everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant… You want to know what I make?

I MAKE A DIFFERENCE. What do you make Mr. CEO?’

His jaw dropped, he went silent.

–Based on the Work of Taylor Mali

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Clif Mims is a Christian, husband, father, teacher, cancer warrior, and fan of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Memphis Grizzlies.

6 thoughts on “What Do Teachers Make?”

  1. The first time I read this through I was just reading it for the words. The second time that I read it I could relate to the teacher in the story. I am constantly telling people, who wonder why I teach since the money is not that good, that I teach because I feel that I make a difference. After the day I had today, I wonder if that difference will be made with the students that I have. I feel teachers do the job because they have heart. It is the look on the child’s face when they finally get the concept that you have gone over for three weeks that gives you encouragement to continue. It is sad to think that we as teachers are teaching students how to be polite, respectful, and appreciative of things. It is also sad when you can say the only place some students feel safe is in the classroom with their teacher. We where many hats, but to repeat what I said earlier, it is because we have heart and the real desire to make a difference in a child’s life.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  2. in all honesty, this piece makes me want to gag. but most sentimental cliches about teaching make me vomit a little in my mouth. and while it may be true, it’s still gushing sentimentality. esp with the crappy addition of the faux patriotism.
    it sucks that teachers feel they have to justify the importance of their jobs. i don’t even respond to people who voice opinions like the ceo’s. it’s never worth my time.

  3. Thanks for reminding me about this. It has been a couple of years since I read it. I find it interesting that in the few years since it has become more ‘Americanized’ and political. I find the original much more powerful.

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