It’s been two weeks since I blogged. I have to tell you that I’ve felt lost, without purpose, and out of sorts. I’ve had a hard time wrapping my head around events in my life, professionally and personally because I wasn’t reflecting as I should. I think it’s safe to say that writing has become my main outlet for reflection and sharing my voice, with others, but most importantly with myself. I knew that after the incredible #DBC50Summer journey, I needed to put on the brakes a bit and spend time with my family. I needed to catch up on sleep. I wanted to watch some Netflix, HBO, and Amazon Prime movies and get back into football. My house desperately needed to be cleaned. So here we are two weeks later, after finally watching The Greatest Showman (so good), with 100% less dark circles under my eyes, and a moderately cleaner home.
After trying to read Be REAL: Educate from the Heart by Tara Martin for a week while being totally distracted by life (and only reaching page 57), I finally made myself intentionally go back to my reading spot (center seat of our sectional), eliminated distractions, opened the book to page 1, and pressed play. This time, I couldn’t put it down.
I don’t remember the circumstances under which I first spoke to Tara online. I just remember an instant connection to her. I felt as if I’d known her for years within moments.
In this way beyond cute video in which Tara and Wendy (DBC Director of Operations) announce Tara’s accepting a new job with Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc, I found out that I had won a #DBCChallenge (a contest run each week – see Dave’s blog post for more) and got to pick any book from the DBC, Inc line for free! (I chose Social LEADia by Jennifer Casa-Todd – great book! See my #DBC50Summer post here!) It was the first time I had ever seen Tara and Wendy on video and I instantly wanted to hug the both of them! They both appear to be so authentic… so REAL!
A little over two weeks later (June 18, 2018 – my oldest daughter’s birthday), Tara’s book was officially released to the public. Be REAL: Educate from the Heart is everything that I adore about Tara! She is relatable, vulnerable, approachable, and employs an attitude of lifelong learning. Through no surprise if you’ve picked up many DBC, Inc books, REAL is an acronym:
Learning Through Life
Without giving away too much, you will read this book and want to pack your bags, figure out where Tara is, and give her “big squeezy hugs” multiple times before reaching the last page. Tara is an amazing storyteller; she captivates you and pulls you in, sharing her truths, many of which are heart-wrenching. After removing the mental block I had, eliminating outside distractions, and finding my “reading spot”, I now sit here with tears in my eyes, convicted to be as REAL as I can for my students and the teachers I have the honor of serving.
As an instructional coach, I relate to many of Tara’s stories and look forward to employing her strategies of coaching teachers and other coaches. I love the REAL + Innovator’s Compass (inspired by the work of Ela Ben-Ur) section & look forward to using this practice in my own relationships. More information can be found on Tara’s (insanely awesome) website here. I also love the REAL Talk Treasures shared in the book! Humble inquiry has served me well as a coach!
This past summer I was fortunate enough to serve the western half of my state as a Digital Learning Competency Ambassador. During this time, I traveled over 530 miles to deliver professional development in four schools to over 1200 North Carolina educators. I facilitated a session with the spectacular Emily Brown (Follow her on Twitter: @ebrown0789) called #Twitter101, then moved into facilitating a live Twitter chat and growing a #PLN in a session called #Twitter102, and finally, got to share my love of #BookSnaps in two sessions, which were almost always at capacity.
#BookSnaps are a digital, visual representation of our connections to the text using common tech tools like Snapchat, Google Slides and Drawings, Seesaw, etc. See all you ever need to get started on Tara’s how-to page here! Tara sent swag to give to participants and even created an epic personalized video for those in my sessions! The love of #BookSnaps has now spread virally throughout North Carolina! Tara speaks about #BookSnaps and how it got started within her book, and she shares exceptional stories of their impact on students from educators.
I had so many a-ha moments while reading Be REAL: Educate from the Heart. The first was in the foreword written by the author of Teach Like a Pirate, the Pirate Captain himself, Dave Burgess. You can see it on his blog here. Other moments were certainly tweeted:
— Alicia Ray (@iluveducating) September 28, 2018
— Alicia Ray (@iluveducating) September 29, 2018
— Alicia Ray (@iluveducating) October 5, 2018
“Exposing vulnerability is not about glorifying our failures; it’s about sharing what came next.” You’re speaking to my heart, @TaraMartinEDU #REALedu – so thankful I finally prioritized some quiet reading time tonight. This whole section has me shook. #DBCBookBlogs pic.twitter.com/3Gn9VRsLZ9
— Alicia Ray (@iluveducating) October 6, 2018
— Alicia Ray (@iluveducating) October 6, 2018
So much good stuff to choose from in this book! Care to know what my implementation is? (Yes, I will continue to share these because, as the Captain says, “Inspiration without implementation is a waste.”)
After all the awesome that #DBC50Summer has brought to my life, sharing my thoughts with each of you, and figuring out my passions, my why, and many times forming an opinion while in the middle of writing these posts, I realized I need to take the advice of my mentor, director, and friend, Lucas Gillispie. As soon as I read this portion of Tara’s book, I know it was time to make the change. It’s time to finally transition my blog site to become my professional website. The blog will still be housed here at aliciaray.com, but will become a subset of the larger website. In the coming months, I will be adding resources, presentations, contact information, and more. So the home page will look a bit different, but just click on blog and you’ll be back in the right spot. I’m not really sure what to expect of this space, but know that I plan to just “cannonball in” (see what I did there, Tara) and see where it takes me.
I can’t say enough about Tara Martin as a person. I can assure you that she is the REAL deal – I can see her heart and soul through her social media presence and through the words in her book. I know that sounds weird as I’ve never talked to her face-to-face, but you just can’t fake it on social media that much. Everything I know of her matches up. I so look forward to the day I finally get to meet her (we were in Chicago in June together, but our schedules just wouldn’t allow it to happen) and finally get that “big squeezy Tara hug” AND give her one back in return! You should seriously go grab a copy of her book here. I highly suggest following her on Twitter at @TaraMartinEDU. You can check out her newly updated website and book resources here! This is amazingness, by the way, so prepare yourself! You can preview Be REAL: Educate from the Heart here. Because everyone adores Tara (seriously. everyone.), you can find tons of podcasts featuring Tara by a quick google search. Check out the hashtags #REALedu and #BookSnaps on Twitter and follow along!
Also – you want to follow @HeckAwesome! If you see photos tweeted from the book, it typically includes the illustrations. Carrie Baughcum sketched every illustration within this book and they are fantastically beautiful! Find more about her and sketchnoting on her website here! She was super inspirational in her #HiveSummit conversation with Michael Matera (author of Explore Like A Pirate), and I tried sketchnoting for the first time last week. It was an awesome way to creatively taking notes!
This book seriously reminds us as educators and readers that many of us have overcome life’s challenges to get where we are; we have persevered and beat the odds to have the privilege of standing in front of children day in and day out and facilitate the creation of a love of learning.
I’m inspired to share more of my story, with you and with my students and teachers I serve, in hopes that it inspires someone else to persevere. Thank you for your REALness, Tara. You are so appreciated and your story is valued beyond words. It came out 5 days after #DBC50Summer started, so I knew I’d have to wait a long time to get to read it… I must say, it was worth. the. wait.