Technological innovations have been wonderful on so many levels. Mobile devices have revolutionized what we are able to do in terms of being more effective and efficient. Yet with most human ingenuity there is a downside. In terms of being a school leader, I have given much thought lately to how technology is getting in the way of important face-to-face interaction.
What may immediately spring to mind is our over-reliance on email for communication, where it is not uncommon for people to be emailing the person sitting at the next desk.
The interference of technology with our in person interactions is more than just email. Many of us are aware of how we check our cell phones at the dinner table, well it has got a lot worse than that.
I have noticed colleagues pulling out and check a cell phone in the hallway, missing that all important, “Hello, how has your day gone so far?” moment. Even when we sit down with colleagues, there may be the barrier of a laptop. Recently, in an important conversation with a colleague, I found myself glancing across at my laptop, even though it had gone to sleep I could not resist touching the trackpad to wake it up. It provided an opportunity for me to break eye contact.
This moment provided me an opportunity to reflect and decide that in future conversations, maybe the laptop needs to be closed.
Some 18 months ago I decided to leave my phone in my office when going to an important meeting, to aboid be distracted. Provided, my calendar is appropriately shared and if an urgent matter arises, colleagues know where to find me, all will be well. It certainly helped my engagement in important conversations.
As technology continues to progress, as school leaders, we are going to require a good level of personal leadership, to grasp how technology interferes with those all important personal interactions to ensure that our schools remain people-oriented institutions.