Interview with the NYSTESOL President Ching-Ching LinBack to Blog
Interview with the NYSTESOL President Ching-Ching Lin
Is it about a month since you became president? How is it going so far?
As you know, we all have some kind of goal, so I also have this internal clock. I say, oh, two months have passed, and what have I done? So we all have some kind of goal, and we have to find a way to operationalize it. I used the word to operationalize because I feel I am dealing with a machine in a way. Including myself - I am a machine and a work in progress, you know I continue to discover new dimensions about myself, I continue to learn about myself and engage my own identities. I also try to find my own voice—for example, the Monday Memo. I spend time on the memo, finding a topic to talk about, and trying to find my own voice.
I also have learned about the various NYSTESOL systems such as Memberleap; it has been a steep learning curve.
We have six strong leadership teams: Advocacy, Membership, Communications, Outreach, Finance, SIGs, and Regions. I have met with each one. I am working hard to make sure that we are all in sync. In addition, I want each team to have specific strategic plans so that we can build a better machine, which runs more effectively.
What inspired you to run for president?
I did not see myself in this position. In 2020, I got a call from the then leadership of NYSTESOL, who asked me to run. It is a big commitment and daunting in a pandemic. I had volunteered for NYSTESOL and been in other positions, such as VP of Membership. I am honored. I feel it is a public office position; you answer to the membership and the teaching community as a whole.
It is a big responsibility, and it is an honor to be trusted with this responsibility.
I have learned a lot about volunteering in the last few years, and I have learned so much about the field. When we get involved, that is what happens. We learn.
You have said a few times that you have a 'theme' for this year; what is it, and could you tell us why you decided on that theme?
I think we all have a vision that drives us, but I think it's also important to name it. I got that from Paulo Freire. He said in order to change the world; you have to name it.
I could not condense my vision to one word. I could only do it in three words. These three concepts inspire me.
Diversity, Criticality, and Multi-modality.
I use these to guide myself, to navigate this community.
Diversity. It has grounded my own identity, or I should say identity formation; you know, I came here as an international student. I studied philosophy. There were very few international students in the program and even fewer Chinese students. I did struggle a lot. It doesn't haunt me. Instead, this experience has inspired me. I think things do not have to be that way or that difficult. It can be a good experience for everyone. Many programs advertise to international students, but they do not speak about the struggle of the gloomy side of things. We should build our international strengths. This guides me.
Criticality is about aligning ourselves with marginalized populations and putting ourselves in their shoes. We can then have a new perspective to examine our perceptions, beliefs, and practices. I think that that's criticality.
Right now, we think a lot about critical thinking, and here I'm going to use this opportunity to tell you how I met you (Lesley Painter-Farrell VP of Communityions) for the first time. I met you at the annual conference. You were doing a presentation on critical thinking. I remember you put stickers under the chairs for people to find. And you also did an activity in which one gift was wrapped with lots of layers of wrapping. Attendees had to unwrap each layer, answer questions and guess what was inside. It was like peeling an onion which illustrated critical thinking skills and how to develop them.
Multi-modality is about giving opportunities. We all learn differently, so we need to provide students with different ways to express themselves. Multi-modality gives people opportunities and is also a way to shift the power dynamic.
The more people you can invite into the community, the more you can change it.
We are in a time of transition. The pandemic has changed the field of education dramatically. What are your thoughts as we move forwards?
The pandemic has brought a lot of changes to us, and it also has a silver lining. We expanded our teaching repertoire and learned how to navigate digitally. I personally like teaching online. These changes will only make us stronger as teachers and help us serve our student populations.
The world is expanding for us. We need to find ways to engage with the world. We need to be committed to learning. The only way we can move forwards is to keep learning.
But you know, as a teacher, we are busy; we don't have time to keep chasing after new information and ideas. As soon as I get up, I go to Facebook, not just to see what other people are doing, you know, but to check on our group and other groups. I save information in a group that I created called the Global diversity and inclusion lab. That's a kind of my place where I can store information and share information.
Why should teachers join NYSTESOL? Why is an organization like NYSTESOL important for teachers?
As the previous President said, Monica Baker, NYSTESOL is a hub.
All of the information for teachers is in one place. We are committed to the New York state teachers. We take all the information we find and tailor it to our local community because we have their interests in mind. This is why teachers should join.
What would you like your presidential legacy to be?
I think our organization is collaborative, so it's not that I make all the decisions. We all have to really communicate with people and build a vision together for the community. I appreciate how our organization works.