Tamales

I love this memory from my first year as a teacher. This is just one of many moments when I learned from my students and their families. 

They immigrated from Mexico
So their sons and daughters, my students
Could be educated
By someone with a degree
From the U.S.

Families prepared a meal
They want to show appreciation to los miestros

Gracias fills the room
My plate is full.

Hungry from teaching
I pick up a tamale
But a mixture of nos and giggles
Stop the tamale
Inches from my mouth

A brown hand
Warm from cooking
Takes the tamale from me

Without words
But with a smile
She peels back the husk
Showing me the inside
Showing me what I should eat
Educating me.

My ignorance makes me blush
But their smiles and hugs and laughter
Make me comfortable again.

Somehow earning my college degree
Never included a lesson on how to eat tamales
The mother who never finished high school
Educated me.

I went to receive thanks
And left feeling thankful.

 

Get Back On

The lessons I learned in the country dirt are helping me shape the lives of those in the city.

 

“It is not enough for a rider to know how to ride; she must know how to fall.” – Mexican Proverb

As a horse-obsessed little girl, I didn’t think twice about getting back in the saddle.  Falling is just a part of riding.  If you don’t need to go to the hospital, you hop back on.  It sends the wrong message to your horse, and most importantly to yourself, if you quit riding after you fall.

The first time I fell off a horse, my legs were wiped.  After cantering around the ring countless times, I just got tired.  I leaned in a bit too far on a turn and fell right off of the horse into the dirt.

I brushed the dirt off and hopped back on.

It’s one thing to lean over and fall into the dirt.  It’s another to get bucked off.  It’s another for your horse to jump right causing you to fly left.  I remember riding a horse with a “bad attitude.”  He refused a jump.  Instead of lifting his legs to clear the poles, he sat on butt and slid into the jump. He scrambled backwards when the poles started to fall.  He lost his footing and fell on me.

I  brushed off the dirt and hopped back on.

We cleared the jump the next time around.

Looking back on this experience reminds me a lot of my time in the classroom.  Some days I fail my students because I’m tired.  I’m tired from grading, updating paperwork, planning, leading meetings and the list goes on.  But some days I feel like I’ve been thrown in the dirt.  I have left my classroom feeling that I have failed to help my most challenging students.  They have resisted the hurdles I have asked them to clear.  But just like a rider, I remember to brush myself off, change my approach, and guide my students to clear the hurdle that’s challenging them.  I’m not going to quit when they want to quit.

And eventually they too will learn the gratification and success that comes from perseverance.