Every New Beginning…

Photograph of Seattle skyline with Mount Ranier in the background. Sky is a shade of purple

Photo by Zhifei Zhou on Unsplash

[Note: There’s an announcement in this post. I’ll bold it if this is tl/dr for you.]

I quoted from Semisonic’s “Closing Time” as the title of a blog post at the end of my first semester as an Assistant Professor at CSULB. In that post, I talked about the challenges of mothering a 6-year old through transitions from a bilingual program we loved to a new unfamiliar school system, designing new syllabi, transitioning professional identities, and finding strength in my voice as a teacher educator. I also talked with joy about the opportunity to live out my dream of teaching teachers, a dream which might not be a very ordinary dream, but which was mine. I quoted from kind student comments in our end of semester reflections that grounded me in the heart of this work.

Today, I am, in many ways, a similar person — a MotherScholar, a teacher of teachers. I am a very human person who continues to struggle with bouts of imposter syndrome and tries hard not to compare myself to others.

I am still a MotherScholar who consistently wrestles with the tension between what is best for me and what is best for my family, who feels pulled in multiple directions, but grounded in the enduring love of the people who are my home.

I am still a teacher of teachers who loves teaching and teachers and is constantly learning from teachers and about teaching in ever evolving contexts.

I am still someone who struggles with comparing myself with others, with wondering whether I am good enough, with thinking about whether my work is the right kind of work, with doubting that I will live up to the expectations of others.

And also, in those 10.5 years, I have grown and changed. Just days after that post, my nephew would survive a mass shooting that would change our lives and my heart forever, making my grief and thoughts about collective grief a core of my public self. It would make this blog not just about an academic journey, but about a personal-professional journey because I would realize that the personal and professional (for me) are inextricably connected, that we are bound together in our humanity (if we let ourselves be), and that community is at the core of moving forward. (Note: I am aware that collective and public grieving is not the way for everyone, but this blog, at many moments, has been a source of deep connection to other grievers and to finding healing in my own humanity.)

I now see myself as a researcher, something I might not have said 10 years ago. I have been able to explore research on teachers and teacher educators in ways that have moved me and have helped me learn so much about myself, about teacher candidates and teachers, about teaching (my own and that of others), and about the ways structures and systems can often act to perpetuate the push up and push out of so many incredibly talented people from classrooms.

I am working on trusting myself and trusting my community, trusting the faith they have in me and that their love and respect are well-placed. I am working on the grace and humility necessary to respond (rather than react) when I am called-in and pushed to grow. I am working on trusting that the right opportunities open up at the right times, and it’s not for me to decide that I’m not good enough.

And so in all of that, I am invoking the lyrics of Semisonic once again to announce a new beginning:

Beginning January 1, 2024, I will be the Boeing Endowed Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Washington (Seattle) 

I will be staying at CSULB through the end of the fall semester 2023 to support the doctoral and masters students whose work I am chairing, as well as to support transition to a new department chair and finish up some grant work and curriculum development. I also get to teach one last class.

Our family will transition in time, the details of which are beyond the scope of this blog, but in a way which we’ve collectively decided is best for us.

This is a big next step for us, and for me, one that I have been processing for a couple of weeks, and am just now starting to fully embody and take in. If you know me, you know that the importance of this move is not in the title or institution themselves, but in the opportunities this position opens up for collective movement towards the greater good. I am grateful to be entrusted with these opportunities. And beyond all of this, I am so grateful for community, for the colleagues, friends, and family who literally made this move possible. I truly am because we are.

One thought on “Every New Beginning…

  1. Congratulations Betina on this decision and on joining us at the UW where we are excited to welcome you! I so appreciate what you write here “If you know me, you know that the importance of this move is not in the title or institution themselves, but in the opportunities this position opens up for collective movement towards the greater good.” Yes! So much more to say but for now, congrats & good luck with this transition!

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