One of the best things I heard last week was the following, in the context of a faculty workshop on mentoring and multiplicity: "I'm here to help you have a better relationship with (subject]."
That statement put into clearer terms what I think teaching English is about: it's about helping our students have better relationships with our subject matter, even if that doesn't translate to their perfecting the art of the subject we teach. Not every student is going to love Shakespeare or Mahfouz, but every student can learn to see what there is of value in exploring those texts—especially those texts which don't reflect the world in which the students live. Not every student will become a Zadie Smith, but every student can learn to write and express him/herself authentically. And my job is to make students feel equipped to encounter any text (any experience?) and write about it. Cool.