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What Does a Teacher Make?

This past school year was my 35th year of teaching, and I still love teaching and students. This blog post is a reposting of something I sent out exactly five years and one day ago, at the conclusion of my 30th year of teaching. I can think of so many people in my past whose influence on me continues — several of them are reading this right now, and many who have passed away but who, in a sense, live on in their students. I'm sure many of you can think back to a teacher who made a huge impact on your life.

What does a teacher make?
by Taylor Mali

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 went on to tell the other dinner guests that he thought it was true what they say about teachers - "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."

To corroborate his statements, he said to another guest, "You're a teacher, Susan. What do you make?"

Susan, who had a reputation of honesty and frankness, replied, "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 the Medal of Honor and an A- feel like a slap in the face if the student did not do his or her very best."

"I can make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall in absolute silence."

"I can make parents tremble in fear when I call home."

"You want to know what I make?"

"I make kids wonder."

"I make them question."

"I make them think critically."

"I make them apologize and mean it."

"I make them write."

"I make them read, read, read."

"I make them spell "definitely and beautiful" 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 all on their final drafts in English."

"I make them experience music and art and the joy in performance, so their lives are rich, full of kindness and culture, and they take pride in themselves and their accomplishments."

"I make them understand that if you have the brains, then follow your heart ... and if someone ever tries to judge you by what you make, you pay them no attention."

"You want to know what I make? - I make a difference."

"Now, what do you make?"

Updated 9/1/2010: Someone kindly sent me the name of the author of that poem, and I have inserted his name under the title. He himself mentions that there are several unattributed, "sanitized versions" of the original that have made the rounds and he's not bothered by it. I'll leave what's a sanitized version up since the original contains some stronger language not typical of ivman's blague.


"Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself." - Chinese proverb

=^..^= =^..^=

2 teach is
2 touch lives
4 ever

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6 Comments on “What Does a Teacher Make?”

  1. #1 Michael Murphy
    on Jun 10th, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Definitely a post near and dear to my heart. One of the things that drew me to be a teacher was seeing how my teachers had such an influence on me and others. I wanted to pursue that vocation because it seemed to be quite fulfilling and enjoyable despite the hard work. Thankfully, God provided me a wonderful opportunity to teach and to, I trust, have a Christlike influence on my students. It is a joy to get to go to school every day and have it seem like school and not work. I don’t like it when people ask me “How was work today?” or “Do you enjoy your job?” “Job” and “work” are foreign terms to me. Thanks for the post. A great encouragement and reminder of what we are to be all about in the teaching profession.

  2. #2 Sherry
    on Jun 10th, 2008 at 8:45 am

    Thanks for posting that again, Mr. Loach. When you posted it last time, I was in my first year of teaching, and it really encouraged me and others with whom I taught.

    I have to say that you and the other French teachers I had at BJU were probably the biggest influences on me personally as a Christian and now as a teacher. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been teaching and a “M. Loachism” pops into my mind. I so appreciate your wit and your wisdom. 🙂 (“Watch my lips….” was one of my favorites, and I have to admit, I’ve used it a few times….) 🙂

    More than anything, though, your Christlikeness, and that of the other French teachers, drew me to pursue Christ more fervently, even as I pursued French more fervently! I saw Christ in you and continue to praise Him for your testimonies and self-giving to me.

    I know I’ve said it before, but it always merits repeating: MERCI MILLE FOIS. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

  3. #3 Jami
    on Jun 11th, 2008 at 8:30 am

    Though I am not a teacher, I have children who have them, of course. And, I agree, they do make a difference, a big difference in the lives of our children and I’m so thankful for every one of them! I, also, remember reading this five years ago, and it still brought tears to my eyes. Unfortunately, that’s not very hard to do! 🙂

    Thanks for sending this. Though I never had you as a teacher, I know you as a person, and know that you must be this kind of teacher!

  4. #4 Jessica
    on Jun 12th, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    From a future teacher, thanks for the post!

  5. #5 Rob
    on Jun 13th, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Thank you all for your comments. I am not sure that I desire the praise or kind words, but I do strive to be the the kind of influence and agent of change in the lives of my students that the Lord wants me to be. I wanted this post to be for my readers a reminder of the people who have been tools in God’s hand to help shape them, and I hope some people even thought to write a quick note or make a phone call to a former teacher of theirs to let them know how much the Lord used them in their lives.

  6. #6 Katie
    on Jul 8th, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    I must agree with Mr. Murphy there, in the fact that teaching is not a job, but an opportunity. I also must say I really enjoyed having Mr. Murphy as a teacher and coach this past year in World History and Mock Trial. I also enjoyed several other teachers, where, I knew it’s their job to make me think, and even when they don’t feel like thinking/I don’t feel like thinking, we all still think so that we may be better. I like the changing lives forever. So true. I know that my life personally has been changed many times by things teachers have said just in passing or in classes. I must say, teachers are some of the most influential people in children’s lives beyond their parents. I really enjoy reading your blague, and especially this one. Although I’m not a teacher myself, I know many because of my schooling, and I am definitely very thankful for all of them and what they have taught me throughout the years.