Tara Martin is an inspirational speaker and author of Be REAL: Educate from the Heart. Tara firmly believes machines and artificial intelligence will never replicate an individual’s REAL identity–the unique strengths, talents and life experiences of every human. Her story will touch your heart.
Tara’s ambition is to lead a culture of innovative change and to motivate others to become the best they can be, all while staying REAL and yet never reaching a plateau. Listen to the podcast and check out the resources and excerpts from the podcast below. Enjoy!
You and your family
I grew up in Southeast Texas where we didn’t have seasons only hot, humid, and rainy. I moved to Kansas eleven years ago with my husband, Darrell. I met my husband when I was in high school and he was in college. As high school sweethearts, we have been married this past November 20 years. We have a sweet boy, Kaleb, who is 17 and a senior who got accepted into his first-choice college so we are embarking on filling out scholarship applications. We live in Kansas out on a farm with no animals and absolutely love it here. We have four seasons in Kansas and my boys love the outdoors where I’m more inside, cooking, or traveling.
What it was like when you were a student
As a student in Texas, I grew up in a home life that was less than stellar. It was an abusive home life. The school became my safe place. It was the place, like Dave Burgess says, that I wanted to get in, not out. It didn’t matter if the teachers were engaging. It was my favorite place to be, ever. I got hot meals, hugs, and more. The school was a place I loved going to. Unfortunately, as an early elementary student, I struggled in school. It wasn’t easy for me. I wasn’t reading even when I got into second grade. My second-grade teacher, Mrs. S, was fantastic. She just saw this little girl that wanted to learn more than life herself and taught me to read every day when I got off the bus. It was so cool because I got to go straight into class when all the kids were lined up outside the class. I thought I was super special and didn’t realize that was getting tutored.
I learned to read that year. I wasn’t aware of how she taught me, but that year I leveled up with my peers. From that moment forward I’ve always been a high achiever and excellent student. She saw something in me that inspired me all along to believe in kids and not to place them in a box or that their family is like this so they’ll automatically be like that. She gave every individual the chance to be the real them. That’s where BE REAL has been so embedded in my heart because every single individual has their own identity. They get to be what they want to be.
Mrs. S told me, “I believe in you, Tara. You are an overcomer. You are not defined by your circumstances.” I am so thankful that she changed the wiring of my brain to make me think differently so I could believe that I could become whatever I wanted to be. I can still remember when she told me that, and I can still smell her perfume. It is so vivid in my mind.
I think as adults that serve others I need to express that to them “You’ve got this. You can help people follow their dreams. It is possible. Nothing is really impossible if you put your mind to it.”
I call the words “I believe in you” HEART words. When people that matter to you say that to you, it means something. You can anchor your thought process on those words.
Your journey as an educator
I wanted to be a doctor, actually, a neuroscientist to study the brain and all facets of the brain. I went to school to be a nurse first because I needed to get a job to sustain myself. It turned out that I cannot handle blood and I almost passed out multiple times in the clinic. I realized that this was not for me. My scholarship also wasn’t going to be able to handle nursing school, med school and going on to become a neuroscientist. So my counselor worked with me to change my major. When I told her that I taught Sunday school and loved it, she mentioned that maybe teaching. So that summer I got into an intro to teaching class. One month in, I loved it. The coolest part is that all of the science I studied with the brain applied directly to education. Because you’re dealing with students and all these ways of thinking. It was cool to combine the two worlds together and to get into the field I belong to.
I started teaching in an inner-city school in Topeka, Kansas with kids with 90% free and reduced lunch and a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and worked there six years. The students that I got to work with were much like me growing up. It was cool to be able to give back to children who were facing obstacles even greater than what I had to face. And being able to help them as Mrs. S encouraged me. I was a third-grade teacher so I had them young and I got to experience what it’s like to go into their houses that had no phone or email. I was able to meet the parents and just talk to them to help them to understand that I get it. I told them that I experienced something similar. I may look like I have it all together now, but this is not how it always was for me. I told them that we’re a team and want to help you. I’m very grateful for my experiences in Topeka. Parents watched out for me and each other. We became a classroom family. It’s so wonderful that my students stay connected with me through email and Facebook messages.
On my website, I share resources called Real Talk Treasures. Click the image below.
Becoming an instructional coach and administrator
I worked for four years as a teacher and then two years as an instructional coach in Topeka. Then I moved to my home district, Lawrence, KS, as an instructional coach. I loved coaching. It was my favorite. I first was trained by Laura Lipton and then later trained by Jim Knight who is in our hometown. If you can learn to have effective conversations to help people recognize their strengths and strive for the next best thing in their own life, then you are really serving your purpose and the world. Coaching has always been something that I hold dear to my heart. I think no matter what role I am in, being a coach is ingrained in me.
I later became an administrator of coaches at the last district I worked at was Auburn Washburn. I loved being able to start a coaching program from the ground up actually training them with this hybrid approach and a little bit of what I learned along with good conversations. Coaching is something that always happens you lead with a humble inquiry to tell me a little about yourself. Coaching is ever-present no matter what role or professional you are in.
I journal daily and even coach myself just like I do when I coach others. I’ll point out a few things they mentioned that we could take into bite-sized chunks to uncover things that clutter our lives. Educators have so much that is pushing on them and coach them to chunk it up to find out what they are already good at to accomplish some of their goals. It’s worth it to put in the time to listen and sometimes it is after hours. Taking to listen and learn at the onsite is worth that time.
About Be REAL: Educate from the Heart
New Role at DBC
I now work for Dave and Shelly Burgess for their the Dave Burgess Consulting company as a coach and speak around the nation. My new role is Media and Communications Director and I only work with educators. The publishing and media side is completely different but I love the challenges. I am building this job from the ground up. Now YouTube is my new BFF.
[This is Barbara. Listen to the podcast for the entire conversation I had with Tara including how she started #BookSnaps after George Couros @gcouros encouraged her to join Twitter in 2016. You won’t believe she started with 2 followers and now has people from over 20 countries following her and #BookSnaps.]
Tara Martin is an enthusiastic educator, speaker, and author who thrives on change and refuses to settle for the status quo. She has served as a classroom teacher, an instructional coach for several years, and most recently as a district administrator who leads district staff and school communities to meet the curriculum and instructional needs of the student body. Tara also mentored and supervised instructional coaches and provided job-embedded professional development for certified and classified staff. She is a well-rounded educator.
Tara’s Contact Information
Tara is a passionate educator who speaks at various conferences to invigorate teachers, administrators, and staff members to apply instructional practices that foster creativity, personalize learning and increase student engagement. She is passionate about discovering the neuroscience behind instructional strategies and believes individualizing adult learning will enhance their ability to flourish and empower students to be the key drivers of their education.
Tara is a connected leader who continually strives to grow professionally. She is always seeking unique ways to make learning fun, relevant and meaningful. In fact, she is the founder of #BookSnaps, the latest reading comprehension strategy that utilizes Snapchat for EDU-awesomeness, and has taken the world by force in less than two years! Currently, schools in seventeen different countries have embraced #BookSnaps to increase student engagement and reading comprehension.
Tara is an inspirational speaker and author of Be REAL: Educate from the Heart. She firmly believes machines and artificial intelligence will never replicate an individual’s REAL identity–the unique strengths, talents and life experiences of every human. Tara’s ambition is to lead a culture of innovative change and to motivate others to become the best they can be, all while staying REAL and yet never reaching a plateau.
Here is Tara’s Visual Bio (https://www.tarammartin.com/tara-martin-bio/)
Interested in checking out more of the Rethinking Learning podcasts and reflections, click on the podcast tab at the top, the logo below, or go to https://barbarabray.net/podcasts/
For more information about Barbara’s new book, Define Your WHY, go to this page or click on the image of the book for resources, questions, and links.