Lessons from the Urban Teacher- Mark Martin, UK

You may not know Mark Martin by name, but there’s a good chance you’ve run into his alter-ego online. As the Urban Teacher, Martin has a significant social media presence as an evangelist for getting the best available technology in the hands of those who can most benefit from it – the students. 

At the recent E2 Conference in Redmond, we had the opportunity to chat with Martin. In today’s Daily Edventure, the Urban Teacher shares his perspective on topics ranging from meeting students where they are to helping educators rediscover their love of teaching.

Urban schools are famously challenging — social issues, the digital divide and low expectations often hamper teachers’ ability to make a difference. Martin has managed to overcome these challenges, translating them into opportunities for both students and teachers.

“There’s a massive digital skills gap,” Martin notes. “We’re getting a lot of young people that are leaving school and falling into the unemployment category. How are we preparing young people for the 21st century? It’s about linking those [jobs] that are out there to their interests, and I think we can do a lot more.”

Martin, a 2015 Innovative Educator Expert, not only pushes the boundaries of learning in his classroom, he offers invaluable insights to fellow teachers – especially those working in inner cities. He uses his considerable influence to share tips on everything from linking technology and curriculum, to raising the aspirations of his students, to utilizing mobile and web apps in the classroom.

“A lot of teachers are under pressure, so they fall into the ‘playing it safe’ culture,” he says. “In the process, they lose out on the excitement, the creativity and innovation – a lot of those things that will help young people to have those life-long learning tools in their toolbox.”

Martin’s tweets are filled with inspiring quotes like, “You don’t build a top school. You build top teachers and the top teachers build the school,” and, “Just as teachers don’t work from 9am – 3pm, students don’t learn from 9am-3pm.” But you need to look beyond the quotes to understand the significance of what Martin is accomplishing.

Engaging with the broader community plays a big part in Martin’s success. He links with Tech City, the East London cluster of technology start-ups and businesses, and brings experts in every Thursday to showcase their latest work. He also ensures that parents are engaged in their students’ journey, holding an hour-long after-school session each week called “Digital Families.” And Martin recently hosted a well-attended Teach Meet at the Microsoft Showcase Classroom, encouraging fellow teachers to share their best practices on everything from gaming in the math classroom to using Sway and Office Mix.

To learn more about Mark Martin, aka Urban Teacher, be sure to check out his blog, website and Twitter.

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