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The Language of the Self-Authoring Educator

The words we use matter. They affirm or tear down. They empower or weaken. We spend a lot of time talking about words at Edjacent. Here are a few words and phrases that matter to us:

Adjacent Possible

The name Edjacent is inspired by Steven Johnson’s notion of the adjacent possible. The concept can be interpreted many ways. At Edjacent it’s pretty simple: innovations that develop alongside existing systems influence those systems. We believe that redefining what it means to be a professional educator outside of traditional systems like K-12 public schools and institutions of higher learning, we can influence how educators are treated within those systems. We apply this concept to the content developed by our designers as well. They create courageous content to expose possibilities in a variety of topics, from social justice to assessment literacy to the science of reading.


Edjacent designers and members often operate in spaces where they cannot be themselves 100% of the time. It can be exhausting to bend and change to be considered “professional.” We believe professionalism allows educators to be their true selves, for their students and for their own well-being. At Edjacent, authenticity means shifting the energy it takes to become another version of yourself toward more meaningful work, like growing and connecting with other authentic educators. We demand this for our students, so why not for our teachers?


At Edjacent, we don’t believe the work/life balance is a myth. Rather, we believe it is more of a journey than a destination. When we seek balance, we look for ways for educators to take care of themselves while taking care of their students. We want them to learn and have time to develop expertise in what they’ve already learned. We want them to experience (supported) discomfort in order to grow, and interact joyfully with colleagues in low-stakes environments. Seeking balance is difficult and our coaches are focused on helping educators find it, wherever they need it.


Bespoke is one of our favorite and most debated words! Rather than using tired educational jargon like “customized” and “personalized,” we wanted a word that made educators sit up and take notice. Bespoke is typically used in fashion to describe garments that are “tailor-made” for the wearer. The designer makes the garment for the wearer rather than finding a garment for the wearer. Whenever possible, Edjacent designers create content that is responsive to their intended audience. We seek patterns in what is happening in education communities and respond rapidly, creating custom content that is relevant and related to educators’ most pressing concerns.


One of the main reasons people cite for joining Edjacent is their desire to find genuine connection with other educators who care deeply like they do. We often hear people seeking “like-minded” educators, but we find they are just as likely to feel connected to educators who are different from them. We cultivate relationships among educators who choose to be together because we know educators often work in environments where their colleagues are assigned to them. Connection comes from relationships we choose, and we have lots of people for you to choose from!


In an increasingly connected world, community can be difficult to find or the communities we belong to by default may not represent our values. At Edjacent, community means a general sense of caring, growth, and connection among people who choose to be together because they care deeply about their work. We design thriving communities of practice for self-authoring educators who may be interacting in spaces that sometimes do not feel safe and welcoming.


At Edjacent, growth is not mastery. Growth is a continuous process of getting better and bolder. We design our content, products, and services to promote growth in the most capable educators. Traditional systems often make meaning at a very low level. They train people to be good enough. Our systems often deploy excellent educators to support others at the expense of their own growth. Edjacent members commit to never stop growing and seek support and stimulation in a variety of areas based on their personal interests and needs.


Many educators join the profession to make a difference in the lives of students, yet leave much of their professional fate in the hands of others. We want educators to craft their own legacy. With the support of our community and coaches, educators can shape the legacy they wish to have on the profession. They can share their wisdom in meaningful ways that increases their span of influence without sacrificing meaningful work for administrative duties or a livable wage.


The definition of liberate is to “release (someone) from a state or situation that limits freedom of thought or behavior.” You are likely to encounter countless professional situations that limit your freedom of thought or behavior as an educator. At Edjacent, we believe the first step toward liberation is claiming it. We refuse to be limited by the systems in which we interact.


Self-Authoring is the most important term we use at Edjacent. It focuses on the intellectual, interpersonal, and intrapersonal growth of adult learners. We apply this concept of self-authorship specifically to educators. Our members look for ways to cultivate their sense of self-authorship. Together, we seek to create systems and structures that support rather than suppress self-authoring educators. Edjacent members have access to content and coaching related to developing their own sense of self-authorship. Self-authoring educators design their own legacy.

Can you think of ways to use these words and phrases to describe your work as a self-authoring educator? Which words are you curious about? Are there any that you would define differently?


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