The Glengarry Glen Ross speech motivates me every time I read it or watch the original video.
what is written below is an adaptation of Alec Baldwin’s legendary speech from the 1992 movie Glengarry Glen Ross. If the original speech doesn’t motivate you at some level, well, I just don’t get that.


In this scene Alec Baldwin is a jerk, but his seven minute speech is one of the most famous, most quoted and most popular film clips of all time. Baldwin’s expletive filled rant in this scene motivates me. Is it cruel? Yes. Over the top? No question. I can’t imagine speaking to anyone else this way and I wouldn’t allow too many people to talk to me like this, but here’s the thing:  I speak to MYSELF like this.


And it motivates me to get better.


I am no masochist and I don’t put myself down, but listening to the video clip challenges me to be a better teacher. It motivates me to quit holding back, to quit blaming the students, to quit blaming the system, to quit trying to hang on until things change. It motivates me to change the one thing, the only thing I can change—myself. And it reminds me that teaching is based on SKILL and ATTITUDE more than on materials, experience, personal history or programs.


To catch the tone, cadence and body language before you read on and to get the full impact watch the original here: .


Here is the teacher twist that I hear in my mind every time I watch that video clip. I am ALL of the characters in the video.


I am Blake, the Alec Baldwin character. In this imagined scenario, that is me at my best. Me when I am confident and my lessons are working. In the reinterpretation below this is “Confident Me”.


I also see myself as the whiny character and the incompetent and overconfident teacher. These are “Whiny Me” and “Incompetent Overconfident Me”.


Confident Me: Let me have your attention for a moment! Because you’re talking, you’re talking about what? Complaining about that lesson that didn’t work? Some dumb kid didn’t want to learn what you’re teaching? Some unit you’re trying to finish, and so forth? Let’s talk about something important.


[To Whiny Me] Put that coffee down! Coffee’s for teachers only. You think I’m messing with you? I am not messing with you. I’m here from the good teachers. I’m here from a community of teachers that actually care about teaching. And I’m here on a mission of mercy.


Your name’s Whiny Me?


Whiny Me: Yeah.


Confident Me: You call yourself a teacher, you son of a bitch?


Incompetent Overconfident Me: I don’t have to listen to this crap.


Confident Me: You certainly don’t, pal. Because the good news is you shouldn’t be teaching at all. The bad news is you’ve got just one week to re-earn the right to call yourself a teacher, starting with today’s lesson.


Oh, have I got your attention now? Good. Because we’re adding a little something to this month’s teaching incentive. As you all know, first place is evidence that your students are enthusiastically learning. Anybody want to see second place? Second prize is the students merely like you. Third prize is you should quit teaching today.


Do you get the picture? Are you laughing now?


You’ve got students. The school pays you good money to teach them. Get them to show you they have learned something! If you can’t teach the students you’re given, if they can show you nothing, then YOU are nothing! Hit the street, pal, and beat it, because you should leave!


Whiny Me: But the students don’t want to learn!


Confident Me: The students don’t want to learn? The freakin’ STUDENTS don’t want to learn?


YOU don’t want to learn. I’ve been in this business for years…


Incompetent Overconfident Me: Oh yeah? What’s your name?


Confident Me: Screw you! THAT’S my name! You know why, “teacher”? Because you handed your students a worksheet today, and I delivered them an engaging learning experience.


THAT’S my name!!


[to Whiny Me] And your name is “I can’t do that”. If you can’t do what a real teacher does, if you can’t teach them, then go home and tell your spouse your troubles, because only one thing counts in this line of work: Get them to show they have learned something. You hear me, you lazy maggots?


[Confident Me flips over a blackboard which has two sets of letters on it: ABC, and AIDA.] 


A-B-C: A-Always, B-Be, C-Checking.


Always Be Checking for Comprehension!  Always be checking for comprehension!


A-I-D-A: Attention, Interest, Decision, Action.


Attention: Do I have your attention?


Interest: Are you interested? I know you are, because it’s teach or walk. You really start teaching today, or you hit the streets!


Decision: Have you finally decided to really teach like a champion?


And Action.  Take action. Get out there and do it! Don’t just talk about it. Don’t just blog about it. Don’t just read about it. Take action. Do it! Teach!




Get in there and teach! You’ve got the students coming into your classrooms. You think they come in just to be kept busy? A student doesn’t walk into your room unless, on some level, he wants to learn. They’re sitting there WAITING TO LEARN FROM YOU! Are you going to teach them? Are you teacher enough to do that?


Incompetent Overconfident Me: Incredible.


Confident Me:  What’s the problem, pal?


Incompetent Overconfident Me: You. You’re such a hero; you’re so talented, so skilled. How come you’re coming down here wasting your time with bums like us?


Confident Me: You see this book?


[Confident Me throws down his lesson plan book] You see this book?


Incompetent Overconfident Me: Yeah.


Confident Me: That book contains more good ideas than you have taught in years. I taught my students every single day last year. What did you do?


You see, pal, that’s who I am. And you’re nothing. Nice guy? I don’t give a crap. Coach?  Screw you!  Go home and play ball with your kids!  You want to work in a real school? Teach!


You think this is abuse? You think this is abuse, you knuckleheads? If you can’t take this, how can take the abuse you get in a classroom? You don’t like it, leave.


I can go in there today, with the materials you’ve got, and make those kids learn! Today! In one class period!  [To Whiny Me] Can you?  [To Incompetent Overconfident Me] Can you?


Go and do likewise! A-I-D-A! Get mad! You sons of bitches!  Get mad!! You know what it takes to teach? It takes thick skin and a tender heart to teach. Go and do likewise, people.


The students are out there, if you teach them well, we all win. You don’t, I’ve got no sympathy for you. You need to go out into those classrooms today and check for understanding, make them show they have learned something. It’s yours, if you’ll do it. If not, you should just be shining my shoes.


And you know what you’ll be saying, bunch of losers, sitting around in a coffee shop somewhere. [in a mocking weak voice]  “Oh yeah, I used to be a teacher, it’s a tough racket.”


[Confident Me takes out large stack of new materials tied together with string from his briefcase.]


These are the latest and greatest materials. These are the best materials ever. And to you, they’re gold. And you don’t get them. Why? Because to give them to you is just throwing them away. They’re for real teachers.


I’d wish you good luck, but you wouldn’t know what to do with it if you got it.


[To Incompetent Overconfident Me as he picks up his book again] And to answer your question, pal, why am I here? I came here because the teachers that actually care and have actual skill asked me to come, they asked for a favor, to try and motivate you to actually teach. I said the real favor would be to follow my advice and fire your lazy ass, because a loser is a loser.