Teach & Serve II, No. 25 – Conjunction Junction

Teach & Serve II, No. 25 – Conjunction Junction

January 25, 2017

Author’s note: as a former teacher at an all boys school, writing a post wherein I used the word “but” over-and-over again did, in fact, make me smirk… go ahead and chuckle, but there’s hopefully a point here!

In my position, I have the wonderful opportunity to spend time with educators from all over the country. I get to speak to them, resource with them, program for them. I am involved in professional development and visioning with my organization – the Jesuit Schools Network – and part of what we do is hold gatherings for “job level” groups, assistant principals, athletic directors, deans of students and so forth. We also do some direct instruction of adults and spend much time in conversation about how to impart leadership lessons which are valuable and tested.  I work with an amazingly skilled and talent group of people whose blessing it is to work with a broader amazingly skilled and talented group of people!

I keep and electronic journal and write down words, phrases, thoughts and sentences that these people have shared or I have thought about in conversation with them. Sometimes, I know who said what and I try to give credit where it’s due. Often times, I don’t. I look about at a note or image and think “who was smart enough to say this?” I am typically sure those instances that arrest my attention did not originate with me.

Such is the topic of today’s Teach & Serve. I do not know where I heard it, but the thought should be shared.

Educational leaders should be very aware of their use of the word “but” and consider employing the word “and” instead.

But is exclusionary. But represents a break apart. But stops momentum. But suggests conflict.

And is inclusive. And represents joining together. And building momentum. And suggests teamwork.

I really like the simplicity of this concept and I’ve been thinking about pivoting from “but” to “and” in my own personal work. I have tried to catch the times I have been tempted to use “but” and discern where I might better respond with “and.”

We can pay attention to our words, both spoken and written. We can look at what we say and write and how our words indicate who we are. We can listen and analyze.

I want to use “but” sparingly. I want to use “and” liberally.

Because I want to be an “and” guy. I want to be inclusive and communal. I want to build momentum and a better team.

What educational leader does not want to do these things?