Top 10 Qualities of An IT Support Professional Working In Education.
This post was originally posted my old blog format and has been reposted in the new look website.* *
There are many qualities IT professionals working in the education sector need to possess to succeed in what is a very unique environment. However there are 10 qualities that really stand out that will make you a great IT support professional.
10. Having a framework to ignore.
Frameworks such as FITS and ITIL are good but an important part of any framework is to know when to ignore it. Frameworks make sure that you and everyone else knows what the baseline is. However great frameworks such as FITS recognise the need to customise and they provide a framework that you can fit in to your organisation.
While it may be obvious but having technical knowledge is important but not as important as other areas. I may get criticised for this list as knowledge comes very low.
While I agree that having technical knowledge is important I would rather have someone with little technical knowledge but great people skills vs someone with high technical knowledge but no people skills.
While of course the more senior the job the higher technical knowledge is required.
This is a must for anyone working in any kind of IT support but education brings teamwork to a whole new level. You need to practice teamwork with the rest of the IT support team, other colleagues, students and the local authority to name just a few. This is a must have skill for any IT support professional.
This probably is the biggest single failure of IT support staff across both commercial and non-commercial sectors. Not communicating enough is a sin I am guilty of myself. Always over communicate I have never heard of anyone communicating too much.
6. Education Viewpoint.
You need to have an education viewpoint. Too often I have seen IT professionals from the commercial world who will come into education and put in place systems they had in their previous job. The Education environment provides a unique environment that has lots of challenges such as getting the balance right between security and a network that is too tightly locked down that nothing can be done on it. I should point out that IT professionals from the commercial world, if they come in with the right mindset and an education point of view, can be successful but they should be designing education systems not commercial systems.
5. Think outside the box.
The one thing about education and maybe successful people in general is the ability to think outside the box and come up with new ideas that push our boundaries and our thinking. The concept of using ICT in education would not even exist if it wasn’t for those few people who saw the benefit of introducing a BBC (you can insert the name of any early computer) into a classroom.
4. Being prepared for failure.
This is linked to number five as if you start to think outside the box and push the boundaries you are at some point going to fail. The key is knowing you will fail and having a backup plan with the ability to move on from that failure.
An important skill is being able to provide a service that can be flexible enough to cope with the changes that users will demand of it. While service level agreements are good and work well we need to remember that outside factors demand us to be flexible both in the service we provide but also in the networks we design.
2. Being A Politician.
Meeting many good IT support professionals both in the education sector and commercial sector I always felt that they would make good politicians. The characteristic that great IT support professionals have in common is the ability to ‘deal’ with people. As I have said many times IT support is no longer about bringing a box placing it on the desk and leaving before the person arrives. If you can’t deal with people you will not be successful.
1. Positive Passion.
Working in education you need to make sure that you have passion for the job of supporting the education of young people. More importantly you need to have a passion for life, something that was hit home to me in a training session with Andy Cope who co-wrote a book with Andy Whittaker “The Art Of Being Brilliant”. Andy talks about the ‘2%ers’ and how these people are happy and have a positive view on life. People often say say that if you can’t find a reason to get out of bed in the morning to go to your job then you need to move to a new job.
Now For A Bonus The Most Important Quality:
This is something that I think all people working in schools should have but it is important that you can lead people (I use term leadership to mean making a positive contribution to your work place by leading and inspiring initiatives and good practice). We need to make sure that as IT support professionals we have the presence to be able to inspire both staff and students in the use of ICT in education.
Whenever a list like this is created people always disagree or agree with it; what qualities are in your top ten?