So what are you? A janitor or a tech director?

My boss wants me to wear a shirt and tie every day. He has a point, of course: if I want to be treated like a central office administrator, then I need to dress the part.
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor

My boss wants me to wear a shirt and tie every day. He has a point, of course: if I want to be treated like a central office administrator, then I need to dress the part. Otherwise, I'm just another tech. Which, mind you, isn't a bad thing, but having the right kinds of relationships with other district staff as you try to make decisions, formulate policy, and implement curriculum is important. When you're telling a principal how to integrate technology into their curricula, telling your special education director why a particular bit of assistive technology is not only important but worth the money, or telling a teacher why he/she isn't getting their very own printer next year, an air of authority is useful.

The problem here is that I, like most of us, am a tech at heart. I'm not going to walk by someone struggling with a computer issue and not fix it. I'm not going to walk into a building with network issues and not go up in the drop ceiling and start pulling new cable because I'm wearing my nice clothes.

The week before last was, in fact, a bad week for clothes. When three large multi-function copiers were delivered a week early, I was the only one on site who knew how to run the handicapped lift required to move the machines to a middle floor. Since I was there anyway to handle the network configuration and rollout, I hopped on the lift and started moving copier. My pants didn't move with me and ripped quite nicely in the crotch. And yes, I've heard the SpongeBob song. Figures I'd pick that day to wear my nice no-iron khakis.

Two days later, I hear that one of the same copies has become detached from the finisher in a story too long to bother posting here. I drive back over to the school and proceed to dislocate a rib (don't ask), cut my finger, bleed all over my other pair of khakis, and get the copier back up and running without an embarrassing (and probably expensive) call to Toshiba.

When I got home that night, popping several ibuprofen on the way in the door, my wife saw my bloody pants (with a rip in the knee that I hadn't noticed before) and asked, "So what are you? A janitor or a tech director?" Well...

She was kidding (sort of), but the point remains that most of us are jacks of all trades, master of few (or none), and we do what we do because we believe in it. We believe that students and staff should have access to the technology they need when they need it. We believe in finding the best solutions we can afford and making them work, even at the expense of pants.

As someone once said, techs and ties don't mix. It's true, not just because the vast majority of us just aren't suit and tie people, but because I could certainly envision a night janitor coming across my lifeless body hanging from a necktie that somehow got caught in the drop ceiling where I was installing a switch, teetering precariously from whatever chair I happened to find in a classroom.

My wife cringed as I walked out the door this morning wearing linen pants. They're the closest things to khakis I own now. My cargo pants (my favorite pants in the whole world) are dirty. My wife somehow managed to shrink another pair of cargo pants last week (no, really, they're too short and I know that I'm not growing that way anymore), so I'm left with linen. We'll see if they survive the day. If not, it'll be a snazzy pair of black pants that I usually reserve for weddings and funerals tomorrow.

Believe it or not, I have a point here. Most of you have probably gotten it already. Wear your cargo pants. Do your job beyond reproach. We might as well get a few bennies out of the largely thankless jobs in the trenches of educational technology, right? Cargo pants make me happy. So does a school humming along without worry or complaint, Internet access solid, and technology being used every day in the classroom to improve student learning and enhance instruction.

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