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Book Review: What Teachers Make by Taylor Mali

What Teachers Make was inspired by a poem written by educator and now teachers’ advocate, Taylor Mali. Mali attended a dinner party where an arrogant lawyer asked what Mali’s salary was as a teacher, insinuating that it must be low. This question inspired Mali to write a poem that has reached millions of people and now the message of the poem has grown into a book. What Teachers Make defends the teaching profession as a whole and illustrates the lasting impression that educators make on their students. Mali includes personal stories from his classroom that expose both the challenges and the joys teachers face. These accounts discuss unique classroom projects, bizarre gifts from parents and the overwhelming feeling a teacher gets when a student has a “lightbulb moment”. What Teachers Make is a truly inspiring, reflective, and engaging work that can be enjoyed not only by educators, but by everyone.


TeachersTopic: Dr. Susan Neimand discusses the high school diploma v. GED, May 2012

There is a need for both the high school diploma and the GED. In education, we believe that one size doesn’t fit all. High school can be a wonderful experience for some with all of the learning as well as all of the activities that take place at high schools. In high quality high schools, students are provided with many offerings: advanced placement classes, dual enrollment courses (courses that enable a student to obtain college credit while still attending high school), and internship opportunities. In some high schools, students are engaged in problem-based learning which replicates the world of work in its team approach to solving real problems that students care about and identify. This certainly supports their development of critical thinking and offers a taste of professions that students may consider as careers. In Florida, students must take at least one course through our Virtual High School, which ensures their computer literacy skills and offers a different learning venue. Unfortunately, the richness of programs described above cannot be found in every high school.

Notwithstanding, high school is not for everyone and hence the importance of the GED. Too often students are relegated to taking courses that don’t meet their educational needs. When students are not engaged in their own learning because instead of interaction there is lecture, students become disenfranchised and aren’t learning. If learning is the goal, they are not achieving it. Further, there is such a wide range of career opportunities for youth today that require skills not taught in schools. Accelerating their completion of a degree and then seeking higher education or workforce opportunities is the goal of the GED and it works for some.

The rigor of the GED test is being increased to make it comparable to a high school diploma. This is a change that is needed and is applauded by the education community. As one who works in higher education, we see students who come to us, both through the high school diploma and GED routes, who lack the necessary college readiness skills. Huge percentages of students today entering college must first complete college preparation courses as they lack skills in math and reading. The route that students take to get to college, high school diploma or GED, doesn’t seem to be a differentiating factor.


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  1. I am a retired science teacher/ Science coordinator with over 30 years in Great Neck Schools N.Y. under my belt. My passion -post retirement- is helping teachers to model creativity and problem solving skills in their classroom. For over 40 years i have been a magic enthusiast and over those years, my hobby of magic became an important part of my teaching and mentoring repertoire. I recently developed two new motivational teaching kits which are being marketed by Educational Innovations- ( one of the best science materials companies for creative and joy-filled hands-on science instruction. I was written up in the Sept. 2012 NSTA Reports newspaper (page 18) and I have produced several TV shows on the use of magic and discrepant events in the classroom. I am currently developing several new hands-on STEM related motivational teaching kits and I would love to network with teachers who share my enthusiasm for creative teaching tools. I am looking for new ways to deliver my STEM presentations to teachers after having had an amazing experience presenting at the NSTA STEM conference in Atlantic City last May. For information, please contact Pete Suchmann at 516 678 0794 or

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