Dr. Katie Martin is the Head of Partnerships-West at AltSchool. Over the last 5 years, she has worked in diverse contexts to learn, research, and support deeper learning for all students. She has served as a middle school English language teacher, literacy coach, new teacher mentor, university instructor, and coordinator of district programs. Katie is the author of Learner-Centered Innovation.
I’ve known Katie for over five years and about her passion to create experiences that empower all learners to develop knowledge, skills, and mindsets to thrive in a changing world. I read a draft of her book, read the published version, and couldn’t wait to talk to her about it. Below are some excerpts from the podcast along with resources and links.
You and your family
We currently live in San Diego, California and grew up here most of my life. I met my husband, Mac, in Hawaii. After I graduated from college, I moved to Hawaii to teach and luckily he did also. We met teaching 3 doors down from each other. He was the 7th-grade science teacher and I was the 7th grade English Language Arts teachers. Our new teacher mentor introduced us. We started dating and kept it from our students for the first year. They loved it when they found out. We ended up staying there, married and had two kids, Abby and Zac, who were born in Hawaii. After we were there for 10 years, our kids were ready to start school. Mac got a job teaching at High Tech High that allowed us to move back to San Diego and be closer to my family. My kids were in 2nd and 3rd grade at the time of this podcast. It’s fun to see them grow up and see the school through their eyes.
What it was like for you as a learner
I was not the typical child who played being a teacher presenting to all my stuffed animals. My mom is an amazing first-grade teacher so I spent a lot of time in her class. She was doing makerspaces and projects over 20+ years ago so I learned a lot from her. But I wasn’t experiencing the same kind of learning in my own classrooms when I was a student. Very early on in 3rd grade, I remember thinking “how much longer do I have to be in school? This is horrible.” The reason I say that because I remember my teacher telling me I had to read the “Mouse and the Motorcycle.” It was the first time a teacher said to me that I had to read this book and a specific chapter. I was not inspired by that at all. I had a strong aversion to reading and just did what I had to do to get by. I always got As and Bs but I was not motivated nor passionate about filling in worksheets. It just didn’t do it for me. This made me not want to be a teacher.
TedTalk: Teachers Create What they Experience
Background as a teacher
As life turned around, it turned out to be that the only thing I was meant to be was a teacher, especially a Language Arts teacher. I wanted to help my students think differently about their own reading and their own voice in the world. When I started teaching 7th grade, I was handed a workbook and looked through the filing cabinets. I was not going to teach this at all. My credential program in California was amazing where they taught us how to design experiences and thematic units so I brought that with me. I was fortunate to be in a space where I had the autonomy to teach what I wanted to teach. I designed lessons for kids that allowed them to pick books they wanted to read and connect with each other. It took a while for it to catch on, but it was the most memorable moments especially when they made connections to their own lives.
What if a school could be better for students and adults? https://t.co/s0Y7YF5c9C
Building Relationships First
Before I moved to Hawaii, I wasn’t sure how to connect with the students there. One of my students said, “if you build relationships, you’ll be okay.” That comment really stuck with me. From day one, I really pushed aside the pacing guide. Instead of going over the syllabus the first day, I spent the time to get to know the kids and telling them about who I was. That first couple of days paid off. If I just connected with the kids I was teaching and got to know who they were, everything else became so much easier.
“When we empower kids to explore and learn how to make an impact o the world, we inspire problem solves and innovators.”
Keynoter at the ISTE 2018 Conference
#ISTE18 keynote speaker, Katie Martin, on rethinking school to create an innovation ecosystem. For more details, go to https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=2198
Short recap of her ISTE 18 Keynote after Michael Cohen:
This is Barbara: My reflection on Katie’s book: Learner-Centered Innovation
The subtitle, “Creating Experiences that Ignite Curiosity, Develop Passion, and Unleash Genius,” is definitely what her book is all about. The book starts with what if questions and asks “what if education could be better—for students and for educators?” We need to ask this question:
What if learners were valued for their diverse talents and not just our traditional model of “smart?”
This is a must-read book for all educators. This book will inspire you to want to create new experiences that develop learners with agency. Katie shares evidence-based ways to ignite curiosity that today’s learners need to survive in an unpredictable world.
Make sure you listen to the full podcast because there is so much more Katie shares, follow her on social media, and definitely read her book. It’s just what we need now in education.
Dr. Katie Martin is the Head of Partnerships- West at AltSchool. Over the last 5 years, she has worked in diverse contexts to learn, research, and support deeper learning for all students. She has also served as middle school English language arts teacher, instructional coach, and led the district new teacher mentoring program. Katie has a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in middle school education and her Ph.D. and in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on the support that impacts teacher efficacy and retention.
At the university, district, and school level Katie aspires to create experiences that empower all learners to develop knowledge, skills, and mindsets to thrive in a changing world. As a mom, she wants her kids to have learning experiences in school that build on their strengths and interests and as an educator; she is passionate about making sure we do the same for all kids. Katie’s experience in research and practice continue to guide her belief that if we want to change how students learn, we must change how educators learn. She enjoys teaching graduate classes in diverse teacher education programs. At the university, district and school level, Katie aspires to create experiences that empower all learners to develop knowledge, skills, and mindsets to thrive in a changing world.
As a leader, teacher, and speaker, Katie’s experience in research and practice continue to guide her belief that if we want to change how students learn, we must change how educators learn. Katie’s first book, Learner-Centered Innovation; Creating Experiences that Spark Curiosity, Ignite Passion, and Unleash Genius.
You can connect with Katie on Twitter @KatieMartinEdu or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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