Thursday, July 21, 2016

#D100bloggerPD Crew's Book Study Kickoff of "What Teachers Make" by Taylor Mali

Welcome back for another #D100bloggerPD crew book study! Here's a recap of the crew. We consist of an assortment of Berwyn South School District teacher and administrator learners who enjoy blogging, are smitten with social media and make use of their PLNs as an irreplaceable source of powerful content, hence the hashtag #D100bloggerPD. We devote ourselves to staying globally connected. The crew embraces change, strives to better themselves professionally and desires to join forces with others to share what we learn because... Together we are better!
This book study is dedicated to Taylor Mail's What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World. Before I kickoff the study, on behalf of the crew, I'd like to thank Kristin over at Reading and Owl of the Above for organizing our live Twitter Chat with Taylor Mali this past June. It was enjoyable having such an inspirational author, poet and former teacher dedicate time to join the #D100bloggerPD crew's #D100chat. If you're interested in viewing the chat, click HERE for the Storify. Leah, another crew member and blogger on Responsive Literacy, was gracious enough to Storify the event for us. Thanks, Leah!
Okay, on with the study! Throughout the book study, each crew member will give you a peek into the vignettes that dive deeper into the meaning of the poem in this uplifting book defending, supporting and liberating teachers worldwide. This post will be short and sweet. It is dedicated to Mali's brief Introduction and first vignette, Making Kids Work Hard

The back cover of the book reads, "Mali's sharp, funny, perceptive look at life in the classroom pays tribute to the joys of teaching...and explains why teachers are so vital to our society."  It was released in 2012 and was written to expand on Mali's poem with the same name. The poem is an expressive response to an *arrogant young lawyer* who questioned why anyone would ever want to be a teacher because "Teachers are so overworked and disrespected...that anyone who would choose to become a teacher today must be of questionable intelligence..." Yikes! I, too, disagree with the arrogant young lawyer.

If you've ever caught sight of Mail on stage performing his poem in person or on YouTubeyou know he can be comically inspiring. In fact, one of our #D100bloggerPD crew members, Michelle from BigTime Literacy, has seen Mali perform this poem live! So jealous. At any rate, in an interview, Mali states, "Performance adds passion to the written word. And passion aids in understanding." Provided you didn't quite grasp Mali's tone of crossness while reading his poem, you are undeniably able to experience it firsthand through his performance! :)

Mali started his career as a poet and middle school teacher, but then became a touring poet and advocate for teachers. He set off on a universal, far-reaching mission to inspire others to become teachers.
"So after a couple dozen people told me that they had decided to pursue a career in education after reading the poem, I gave myself a goal: I would convince one thousand people to become teachers through nothing more than the passion with which I spoke about the profession. I called it the Quest for One Thousand Teachers."
Mali professes that being on this mission has deeply impacted him. It has given him a greater purpose in life. His journey of igniting one teacher at a time helps remind teachers everywhere their profession is honorable. 
"...being a teacher is one of the greatest jobs in the world, and sometimes the people who have chosen to walk that noble path simply need to be reminded that there is a vast army of educated and grateful citizens who has their backs. Someone needs to remind teachers that they are dearly loved."  
We all know teachers make daily sacrifices. We do it to improve the lives of our students. It certainly is gratifying to know there are people recognizing teachers' strong efforts to support and carry students' voices. 

Vignette 1:*Making Kids Work Hard*
Below is a segment from Mali's poem. The first vignette in the book is devoted to the underlined portion. Mali explains, if an A+ student hands in A- work, then he/she is not working up to his/her potential, and therefore, it's an insult to everyone involved. However, if a struggling student exerts his/her absolute best with a C+ outcome, then his/her effort should be validated and commended. 
Teachers should be compelled to instill in their students a certain set of attributes that will make them work harder than ever. For these attributes will be what serve students generously in the real world, not just in the classroom setting. 
"The real lessons here are diligence, cooperation, resilience, flexibility, critical thinking, and problem solving you are actively using today. You will use those skills every time life presents you with something difficult or unexpected: obstacles in your personal life, accidents and catastrophes, lost jobs and loved ones."
Mali alerts readers of his honesty with students. When students question the usefulness of his subject matter, Mali reveals to them they will most likely never use the exact information he teaches them. However, he also makes clear that working through challenges is what undoubtedly matters. Life lessons, not necessarily subject matter lessons, are the true gifts teachers give students. 

Truly impassioned teachers are those who inspire students to strive for excellence (not perfection), to exert oneself toward continuous improvement and to be their best each and every day. Teaching has never been or will ever be an effortless and undemanding profession, and, of course, teachers don't enter the profession for monetary gains. We do what we do because we make a difference in the lives of children. We teach to instill a love of learning in our students. That is what will take them to infinity and beyond, as Buzz Lightyear would say. The picture on my desk serves as a valuable reminder that "Children are always the only future the human race has; Teach them well." So, get out there, inspire and teach well! :)
Thank you for stopping by Literacy Loving Gals to join in the #D100bloggerPD book study on What Teachers Make. Next up is the talented Jennifer Lehotsky, one of our school district's instructional coaches and TED-Ed Innovative Educators. Her post will appear on her blog, Teaching and Learning Redefined, on Tuesday, July 26th and is dedicated to the second and third vignettes, Your Child Is My Student and A Poet Becomes a Teacher (and Vice Versa). The schedule for the rest of the book study is below. Stay tuned to hear more from our accomplished #D100bloggerPD crew members!

Thanks again, Taylor Mali!


  1. What an introduction to the book and Mali as the author. Ordering my book and joining you today! Jbagus

    1. Thank you for the kind comment and joining us, Jane! You're next in teaming up with the crew, right?! You have a blog. ;) #comeonyoucandoit

  2. Good stuff, Colleen, thanks for kicking off to such a great writer and fab book!

    1. Thanks, Michelle! Can't wait for your upcoming #D100bloggerPD post! #YOUareagreatwriter #genius #futureliteracyconsultant

  3. Thank you for the introduction. I enjoyed reading Taylor and thought his book was an easy read. It was inspiring to be reaffirmed that teachers really do make a difference. Teaching children how to strive for excellence and to be the best they can every day is a life skill that will stay with them for ever. The best classes I had were the ones that made me work harder than I ever thought I could. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Yes, agreed. :) The classes that make us work our hardest are the ones that push US to grow as teachers and learners. Thanks so much for joining us, Jennifer!


I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment. Come back for a visit sometime soon, too! :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...