Hello friends and family! Welcome to “The Healthy Teacher,” a blog and hopefully a guide to many regarding teaching, health, and raw, unfiltered life.
Let me introduce myself…
My name is Alexandra Lemm, and even though I am currently residing in East Dallas, I take pride in being born and raised in Austin, Texas- “The music capital of the world!” In a nutshell:
- I am a proud 7th grade Reading teacher and Cheer Coach
- I received my degree in Middle Level Education from Texas Tech University.
- I am the youngest in a family of five and believe family is everything.
- I choreograph and dance all over Texas.
- I have been happily married for three years to the love of my life, Tyler.
- I am a proud (maybe too proud) mama to my two fur babies, Bentley and Meeko.
- I run purely on caffeine and my love for Jesus.
- I thoroughly enjoy advocating and encouraging others while helping them reach their full potential.
Although all of these details are important to understand why I am writing to you, there are other, more in-depth reasons as to why I felt called to begin this blog. While yes, I am only twenty-six, I feel as though my story is one worth telling, one that is relatable yet messy and complex. Like every teacher, there were several motives behind why I wanted to become an educator. One prime reason being I had significant gaps in my own schooling. I was the student that slipped through the cracks and because of that, I am determined to reach every student in my own classroom with innovative, relevant lessons. I particularly felt inspired to reach students with difficult home lives, for I myself had a challenging home life. Because of the hardships I faced as a child, creating a healthy lifestyle was non-negotiable as I paved my way into adulthood at an early age. Challenges made my priorities well defined, and I want to be a light and guide for those reading and willing to hear my story.
Reason 1: For the Struggling Student
Like I briefly stated before, my years in school were not the easiest for me. In elementary school, I had very inspiring teachers that pushed me to be better and saw potential in me. One teacher in particular I still have a note from calling me her “gifted writer.” I was hopeful going into middle school, but with more education, came more standardized tests. Multiple choice tests, like many of my students, were grueling for me due to crippling anxiety. I had a very weak foundation in math, and I started to notice the classmates that were considered “smart” were usually exceeding in math and science or scored well on tests- both of which were never my strong suits. Even though I had an undeniable love for reading and writing, my passions were overshadowed by tests. The era of my self-doubt began, I was becoming more and more self-conscious about my intelligence. I stopped asking questions in fear of looking stupid, I had no idea what was going on half the time, and teachers seldom noticed.
Every year, I have students that come into my classroom that struggled like me. They have been beaten down year after year because they can’t pass a test. The pressure is on, and they are feeling more inadequate than ever. These students have so much to offer in other areas, but are we willing to see that through the pressure? Through my struggle, I was inspired to be the voice for them, I wanted to let them know that they weren’t alone, and I am living, breathing proof to them as to what you can do if you change your mindset about asking for help.
One of my many goals for this blog is to include teaching techniques, and to provide material that works for those struggling students. I also want to give the spotlight to other educators that have amazing ideas to share with the teaching community!
Reason #2: For the Importance of Health
When I was seven years old, I distinctly remember my mom clenching my brother and me in the living room while she cried into our shoulders. “I’m sick” she told us, muffled into our cotton shirt sleeves. As a child, I could not grasp what cancer meant for our family, what it meant for me. She was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer, and from then on, she was in a constant state of fighting for her life. She had to learn to cope with two young children, a husband, and a business that my parents started together. Because of this, both my mother and father would put a significant value on staying active, handling stress, and creating a healthy relationship with food-which fortunately seemed to stick when me as I branched into adulthood. I saw my mother go through six different types of treatments, I saw her shave her head six different times while her hair thinned, and I would be one of the only kids in the oncology clinic while chemotherapy would slowly seep into her veins. Both me and my brother saw cancer break her down and build her up for eleven years. We watched her spirit break over and over again while she was still an amazing role model and mother.
Freshman year of college, my mom’s condition began to worsen. She became weak and fragile while the cancer attacked her lungs and other organs throughout her body. She passed Christmas break in 2011, and with that came a new normal. I made a solemn promise to her and myself that I would live a healthy lifestyle, and would do whatever it took to prevent being the victim of disease.
Through my grief, I took distraction very seriously. The following year I attended Texas Tech University where I was seven hours away from the life I grew up in, pushing me to struggle and grow in every way possible. I was determined to prove to myself I could do anything like my mom, I wanted to let my accomplishments define me and make her proud. I became a Chi Omega that fall, where I was able to serve in several leadership positions. I also had the honor of dancing with Vitality Dance Company and serving as their Vice President for two years. I joined Big Brothers, Big Sisters, tutored middle school students, and was teaching dance classes weekly. I thrived in the academic environment of college where all of the tests were not just multiple choice, but essay format as well. The essay format of testing provided a “grey” area of explanation and gave me an opportunity to showcase my love for writing. I graduated with honors while maintaining three different jobs to pay for rent, schooling and my sorority.
Being incredibly busy allowed me to experiment with lifestyle change while enabling me to grow in cooking and meal prepping. I made a conscious choice to take preventative measures through diet and exercise. Because of these productive habits, I rarely stress about health, time and energy. I promise to share recipes, exercises, and meal prepping hacks to help with everyone with a busy, busy schedule, and again, I would love to hear what others love to do to make their hectic life not so hectic!
At the beginning of every school year, I make a timeline on my white board. I tell my students about my family, my struggles throughout my schooling career, and my college successes. I explain to them that our education is a house, and that we must have a strong foundation in order to keep building. We can always add things to our house later in life, but it’s much easier to create a strong foundation now in a safe classroom where mistakes are okay. I allow them to create their own timeline and to include goals that they have for themselves, and I strongly encourage them to embrace growth while instilling the belief that I truly do believe they can be anything
Through my writing, I hope I can be a beacon to someone that needs the guidance. I not only want to give tips and tricks about exercise and diet, but to include teaching material and my outlook on how to balance the two. Teaching is one of the most noble and difficult professions. We notoriously put ourselves last, work until we bleed and sacrifice until we have nothing left. It only makes sense to put your health first so you can be the strength for your students. After all, you are not just a teacher, you are an advocate and a voice for the ones in your classroom, a light for the ones that start to doubt themselves, and a constant reminder that they are worthy of a future!