Contributing to discussions is good in my book, but there are some ways of going about it which could be counter-productive. Here are some pointers about what not to do if you can help it.
Entries in 25 ways to make yourself unpopular (30)
For example, a deputy headteacher once informed me that his school was going to spend thousands of pounds on instruction technology known as “integrated learning systems”, and that they were going to get the least able students to work on them all day.
I told him that some recent research said that the benefits of such systems was short-lived if all you did was use them and nothing else, and that such intensive use of them was counter-productive anyway. This had no impact at all, because
All too often these days there is so much to be done, and so little time to do it, that we have to adopt a “good enough” attitude. That’s fine most of the time, but not always.
I’ve always thought that it’s the expert’s duty to inform the non-expert when they have not got it right. If you’re not prepared to do that, what good are you actually doing?
Everybody involved in ICT loves gleaming new technology. But in my opinion the guiding principle in decisions about purchasing or deployment should always be what is appropriate and cost-effective.
One of the most irritating things about children – but also one of the most endearing – is their tendency to ask lots of follow-up questions. They are never fully satisfied with the answer to their original question: each answer leads to a further enquiry. I think that ICT leaders can learn much from children in this respect.
There are two areas in which this sort of dogged persistence can pay off.
"If you have a position that requires an opinion to be made then you have to give one. It may not tie in with the rest of the team but it may actually be the opinion that makes the difference."
Julia Skinner gives her opinion on the importance of having -- and expressing -- an opinion.
You’d think that giving people in your team the freedom to teach ICT how they like would be met, by them a least, with unbridled enthusiasm. You’d think that the best way to get on with your boss would be to offer no resistance to his latest idea, even if you secretly believe it is completely nuts. You’d think that not challenging your students when they proudly show you the results of their programming or desktop publishing efforts would be much better than the opposite, lest their (supposedly) fragile self-esteem be damaged.
You’d be wrong.
Terry’s article ’25 Ways to make yourself Unpopular – Too Much Information ‘starts by reminding us the phrase is often heard in a social setting when stories are being retold and get a little too near the knuckle for comfort. In terms of getting things done however, surely it is not possible to have ‘too much information’? The more you have, the easier the job will be – yes?
“You have to implement this solution.”
“Yes, but what do I do?”
“You have to implement this solution.”
“How? Who do I have to speak to? What should I say?”
When I read Terry’s article ’25 Ways to make yourself unpopular – Be Flexible’ I have to admit to feeling embarrassed! I was that person who had been invited to contribute an article and I was that person who asked lots of ‘what about...’ questions!
I have reflected on why that was the case and this is my defence!
As an exponent of educational technology, are you expected to use technology all the time? The answer is probably “yes”. But should you?
If there is one thing that’s guaranteed to intimidate a newcomer to educational technology, it’s the perfection and poise of the long-established practitioner. “I’ll never be able to do that”, they think to themselves – and that thought in itself can prevent them learning anything new, or at least learning it as quickly as they might do.
There is no better way to quell enthusiasm and induce frustration than to respond to a “brilliant idea” by saying, “Yes, but what about…”. One of the things you learn from experience is that there are always unintended consequences, and part of the leader’s job is to try and think of what they could be, and to help other team members do the same. In the sphere of educational technology, there is ample scope for unfortunate outcomes.