Random Thoughts

Four Strands of an Educational Technology Position

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It’s that time of year again in the International Educational world of recruiting fairs and finding your next position. The first fair just ended last week here in Bangkok and the list of fairs that still will be occurring through June can be found here and here.

Before the winter break I interviewed, was offered, and accepted a new position here at ISB. I’m not changing schools, just positions as next year I’ll move from the Elementary Technology position to the High School Technology position. In preparing for the interview and my conversations with the High School principal afterwards along with Kim and Dennis in the office, I believe there are four strands that you need to think about when preparing for an educational technology position and interview.

Four Stands of an Educational Technology Position
Four Stands to Educational Technology

First and foremost an educational technology position that is looking to integrate learning into the classroom needs to be about personality. You can not, will not, get into classrooms if you can not create positive relationships with other educators. You must have a willingness to help others, to be patient with people as they learn something new, and just be an all around likable person. Without having the interpersonal skills nothing else in this position matters. Teachers will not invite you into their classrooms, they will not want to work with you and both you and educators will be frustrated with your work.

Believe in something! There are many different views on the pedagogy surrounding educational technology, and you need to show that you have a view, that you stand for something whatever it is. Make sure you believe in it and be passionate about it. I might not have the best pedagogical view on educational technology, but I believe in what I believe passionately, and I believe that comes through in the interview. Know what you believe in, what you will help teachers achieve and how you plan on achieving it.

You need to be familiar with technology, the latest trends, and tools, but honestly this is the least important of the four strands. Technology skills can be taught. In fact you’re going to have to learn new skills anyway. Whether a new e-mail system, a new student information system, etc. More importantly, is to show that you know how to unlearn and relearn skills quickly and that you have a network of educators via your PLN to help you out.

This is one I did not think about but came from the high school principal as I was interviewing. Having a visions of where you believe the school should be in a given amount of time in important to school leaders. Be it 3 years or 5 years, they want to know that you have a purpose, that you have something you are working towards. Again believe in something and be passionate about it.

In the end passion is what sells a good interview. Of course these strands do not only apply to educational technology positions and neither does passion. Being truly passionate in what you believe in, what you feel you can offer, and allowing the joy of doing your job show will win over school administrators. They want to be excited by you, they want to feel the energy you’ll bring to their school. Get them excited about you, about what you believe in and what you feel you can bring to their school.

When I go into interviews I don’t worry about answering a question correctly, I worry about answering it honestly. If you don’t like what I believe in, what I’m passionate about, then I’m not a fit for your school or  organization and that’s OK. But if we “click” and are on the same page then I want you to know that I’m passionate about what I believe in and am excited to work at your school.

If you are interviewing for an educational technology position I think you can frame your answers around these four strands. Talk about your pedagogy, talk about how you build relationships with peers, how you use your PLN and that you have a goal for yourself and for the school. Focus your responses on these strands, and then put them to practice once you get hired.

In the last three technology positions I interviewed for I have spent little time talking about technology, the questions always fall into these strands. Administrators want to know if you are a likable person. They want to know that you stand for something and have a goal. Nobody really knows what we do on a day to day basis and they have to feel confident they are hiring someone who is self-motivated, is passionate and has a goal of where they want to take the school. Very rarely do I ever get asked a technology question…whether it’s because administrators don’t know what questions to ask or that they believe in finding passionate people no matter the job title, brushing up on your tech lingo won’t do you much good.

In the end….be yourself….because if you do get hired that’s who they will be expecting to show up to work every day.

Have you interviewed lately? What types of questions were you asked and would they fit into these strands?

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


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  5. Hi Jeff,

    While I traditionally agree with most everything you write, I must emphatically disagree with your pedagogy section.

    Just because someone has a view and believes in that view passionately, that doesn’t make it beneficial for kids. Remember that old line about the road to hell…

    I believe we as educators need to seek out a proper theoretical foundation to then build our personal views. That way there is a research backed foundation, or underpinning if you will.

    Only then do we have an organic, theoretical basis for our views that changes dynamically as we progress.

    Chris Craft

    • Hi Chris,

      Fair enough. Having a view and believing in it doesn’t make it beneficial for kids, but isn’t that an administrators job to figure out. Whole language vs Phonics comes to mind. Two different views on how you should teach reading. Of course both are backed in research and if you have a pedagogical view that is not backed by some data or research I do think you’re putting yourself out there, or you’re called a futurist.

      I think about my own beliefs of educational technology. I have no data, no hard research that 1:1 programs lead to smarter students, more though provoking students, but I believe it does. The research that is out there goes both ways and you have to pick a side and believe in it and do what you believe is right for kids and your school….or so I think anyway.

      You’re right I might have been over simplifying that part of the post, that you probably should be able to back up your beliefs in some sort of research or theoretical foundation….I guess I just thought that went without saying…but understand your point completely.


      • Congrats on moving to the HS, Jeff. My inclinations are even more extreme that Chris’. I think there exists a immediate and urgent need for Tech Faciliators collectively and at each level to start sharing experiences and to develop a vision for ‘best practices’ and best methodology for performing our very complex jobs. While ISTE has developed a set of Tech Facilitator standards, there is no universally accepted job description, let alone an accepted vision of pedagogy beyond personalized visions.

        Certainly there are influential and vocal professionals who are helping to formulate such agreements, yourself and Justin Medved included, but we need to move collectively beyond a bunch of battling voices. In the meantime, clearly articulated personal pedagogy is better than none, and a small groups of shared research-supported pedagogy is better, but I think an articulated and coordinated sense of best practices is needed in our positions.

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  7. Jeff, this was incredibly useful to me as I have decided to throw my hat into the international school pool and see what happens (I even applied to ISB!).

    One thing I might add – and this is important to me as a team leader for Teachers Without Borders/Education Beyond Borders. I will soon be choosing my team for ICT workshops in Africa for July-August 2010. Being able to find and follow an online presence/digital footprint of potential teammates has become one of my qualifiers for selection. If I can see some kind of solid track record of a teacher via a blog, a forum, posted student projects…. something like this – I am far more impressed than finding nothing. We have to be able to show that we walk the talk if we believe in blogging or podcasting or social bookmarking/media as solid pedagogical approaches.

    I particularly appreciated your point about being able to make and maintain positive relationships with other teachers. We need to be show our own vulnerabilities in order to show empathy for teachers who are being asked to step outside their comfort zones.

    Thanks for sharing! Very timely for me!

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  10. Jeff
    Thanks for the illuminating reflection.
    The importance of Relationship building cannot be over-estimated and in this understanding the diversity of pedagogical approaches is crucial as shared motivation requires common goals that can be understood, are appliable and realistic within school’s many demands. From my experience Secondary level has many teachers for whom subject learning is paramount. The challenge is to add value from the teacher/department’s perspective and through this add digital learning value; not the other way around. School leadership support (and practical involvement) is an oft overlooked factor beyond rhetoric. I am sure you will do very well and wish you all the best. Regards John Turner

    • Thanks John,

      I agree the secondary level is much more focused on content. I’ve worked with HS teachers before and look forward to getting back in and interacting with older students as well. It will be a good move for me and hopefully for the school as well.

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    • It’s not all my thinking…..I’m surrounded by some brilliant minds in the office that I’m able to bounce ideas off of. Of course the ideas get bounced around until I can’t remember who’s idea is who’s. 🙂

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  19. Jeff,

    I agree with Sharon this post was very useful. I just graduated with a Master of Science degree in Educational Technology. For the past few years I was worried I would never find a job and now after reading Four Strands of and Educational Technology Position I now know I don’t have to worry about finding a job but finding one where I will fit in, where I will be happy. This gave me a sense of direction when I felt there was none. Thank you.

  20. Hi Jeff,

    I’ve been a bit slow getting to my Google Reader, but now that I have, I feel compelled to say that I think you’re right on the money here!

    Our school has just hired a wonderful educator to work on our digital literacy team, and although your post came out after the interview, I am pleased to say they used the same criteria in their hiring process. I am thrilled my school looked for the right person (and thus, personality) for the job, instead of focusing on the most technological competent applicant.

    I sent my administration a link to your post, and the response was: I think we pretty much got it right then!

    I think they did too.

    Thanks very much for this!

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