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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Want a New Job? Play It Smart or Play Stupid?

Dateline - December 5, 2007 - Jeff Utecht "Let Your Presence Be Known"

Jeff writes an outstanding piece about how schools get your network when they get you. Based on a TWIT episode, Jeff suggests the power/depth of your network should help you get a job with a school. If you haven't read Jeff's article...do it now! If you haven't listened to the TWIT episode, do it after reading Jeff's article.

Jeff makes a strong point that the stronger your network, the more valuable you are to the school in terms of bringing knowledge, opportunities, experiences, research, etc. In effect, your network impresses potential employers. Jeff's interview situation is presented this way:

“Could you please share with me the extent of the learning network that you would bring with you to this job?”

An answer:

“Well, I bring 1500 readers from my blog, over 400 Twitter contacts, 30+ Facebook friends, 50+ Skype contacts, and a Ustream.TV station that at the last live event saw 40+ people attend. I bring with me one click access to a knowledge base far greater than any single hire can bring.”

Dateline - December 6, 2007 - Miguel Guhlin "All Things In Moderation"

Miguel writes an outstanding piece about how schools get your network when they get you. Based on personal experience, Miguel suggests the power/depth of your network could keep you from getting a job with a school. If you haven't read Miguel's article...do it now!

Miguel makes a strong point that the stronger your network, the more intimidating you are to the school in terms of bringing too much knowledge, too many opportunities, too many experiences, too much research, etc. In effect, your network scares potential employers. Miguel's interview situation is presented this way:
I spoke to a friend yesterday morning. As we spoke, he mentioned,
"Miguel, you won't believe it."
"What?" I shot back. He had dropped his voice into that conspiratorial whisper signalling gossip...you know what I mean.
"The superintendent handed out required reading to all his directors. In chapter 3 of the book, you were quoted."
"Hot dog! Really?" I exclaimed. "Think they'll hire me now?"
"Not a chance."
This is not an issue of who is right...Jeff or Miguel...it is an issue of finding out what the school system in which you would like to work is looking for in an employee, doing some research to find out where they are in terms of technology use, openness or fear of web 2.0 (especially their views on student and teacher content creation and extra-school collaboration), and the expertise/philosophy of those in authority within the district as it relates to instructional technology.

If you find a school like Jeff mentions, then "play it smart." Let them know your network is diverse, extended, deep in quality, and significant.

If you find a school system like Miguel mentions, then "play it stupid." Let them know you are familiar with these ideas, but that the your focus is on helping your students be successful (which probably means you can prepare them for the big standardized test in the Spring). Mention that you are willing to learn about any new methods the system may implement in the future, and that you are a life-long learner who assimilates information quickly. Then, when the system does something new next year, like show Karl Fisch's "Did You Know" at the system-wide convocation, you can catch up on the sleep you missed the past few nights while you stayed up late catching up with your Google Reader feeds.

In my experience, in my neck of the woods, I have to play it stupid if I want to move or stay. No kidding, last week a central office technology "leader" asked me if I had heard of...are you ready...TeacherTube. I said yes, I was one of the first 100 people to create an account there because I read about it in one of my networks (either RSS, Classroom 2.0 on Ning, or something over a year ago). The next statement to me was, "There are a couple of teachers who want to get it unblocked, but we don't see how this site would be helpful to them in school. What do you think?"

I played it stupid. I asked which teachers wanted access (because I wanted to know who knew of TeacherTube - they were ones I told about it). I said the teachers should follow the protocol for getting sites unblocked and the Tech Dept should follow through with administrative decisions to unblock it. I hated myself for that response. But guess what? They thought I was a genius for suggesting that policy be followed.

Sometimes, playing it stupid is the smartest play you can make when it comes to technology in educational settings.

Image Source: http://onemansblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/Idea_Light_Bulb.jpg

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