Mark Martin, alumnus, MA education
Mark is the founder of Urban Teacher and he has become an expert in supporting teachers and schools use technology to improve teaching and learning
Mark Martin realised an emerging gap between what he was teaching in ICT lessons and the skills gaps in the tech industry. He made a conscious decision to be an agent of change and started Urban Teacher. He has taught ICT for over 10 years and has become an expert in helping teachers and schools use technology to improve teaching and learning. Mark is an international speaker and actively involved in the UK tech sector, supporting tech companies and promoting cultural diversity within organisations.
I was teaching in South London in a secondary school and I saw LSBU was offering an MA in Education. The University was close to where I was working, so I thought it would make for an easy commute and decided to apply.
A good mentor
My most supportive lecturer was Sophie Mackay. She was my mentor, and her support was invaluable. She was able to see my potential and encouraged me to live up to it. Although I worked as a teacher whilst doing my Masters, I always felt part of the student culture. Every time I came to campus the atmosphere was always exciting and positive and my fellow students were some of the most aspirational people I have ever met.
When I graduated, my Masters enabled me to get a pay rise in the job I was in at the time. It also enabled me to get a few media engagements, which led to some guest speaking gigs about education around the world as this was an interest I pursued in my spare time. After teaching for the last 15 years, I wanted to share my knowledge of best practice with other educators. As a result, I started Urban Teacher, a company that advises education systems and tech companies. The challenge of starting a company is consistency and generating different revenue streams to stay afloat, it’s been tough but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
In an ever-changing world it may take trying several jobs to find out what works for you, but when you find job satisfaction it really enhances your performance and aspirations. Changing people’s lives keeps me motivated, and hopefully I can leave the world in a better state than how I found it. Mental health is very important in my line of work, and to keep motivated you need friends and family supporting your every move. The most influential relationship in my life has been with my aunt, because she saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. She was one of the people who encouraged me to do my MA, and it was amazing to have her there when I graduated several years ago.
For me, career satisfaction means to love what you do and do what you love.
Working in education
Working in education can be very stressful at times and I believe stress is a silent killer. If you don’t deal with it, it takes over your life, so it’s important that you have people that you can talk to and discuss issues with. At one point in my career, I was assigned to teach a module of advanced coding, which was out of my depth. Instead of hiding behind my fears of getting it wrong and being stressed by it, I decided to join an advanced coding course to help build my skills and knowledge in that area.
What I’ve learnt from this experience is the more you learn, the more confidence you have to do great, interesting things.
The importance of time
One of the most important things you can give to a person is time. These principles have opened up so many doors to me that I’d previously thought were jammed shut. My advice to current LSBU students is to know that skills are the new currency, and to never ever stop learning.
I’ve always been taught that the more you give, the more you receive.