Stop with the devices and pay attention – it’s important

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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.

2 thoughts on “Stop with the devices and pay attention – it’s important

  1. As leaders, it is not wise and good leadership practices to criticize a colleague in online.There should be a better way of presenting our views than criticizing.

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  2. I absolutely agree that in conversations and meetings, one should be present fully in the moment, engaged and eye contact made. That is so important, especially as a leader; the person in the room with you should feel like your priority.

    With that said, you also say, “Some 18 months ago I decided to leave my phone in my office when going to an important meeting, to aboid (sic) be distracted.” The idea of leaving your phone or device behind before walking into a meeting seems to be a way to be disconnected as well. Clarify the purpose of your device: “I will be taking notes” or “I will be tweeting to empower those in the room”. The device(s) are relevant especially in this day and age of connectivism. I appreciate your closure: “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.” However, “As technology continues to progress, as school leaders,” we must grasp how technology can ENHANCE all important personal interactions and recognize how to use it WISELY. I disagree that leaving it behind is the solution; catching up to the rapidly changing times of today is one important aspect of keeping up as an educational leader.

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