Groundhog Semester

03 Feb 2021 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Groundhog Semester

For many of us, a new academic term has begun, just in time for Groundhog Day, when those of us in the U.S. and Canada anxiously wait for a rodent to emerge from the ground. We hope it won’t see its shadow, which would mean an early spring. (Of course, it saw its shadow this year.) The holiday was featured in the 1993 film, Groundhog Day, in which the protagonist had to live the same day over and over and over until he got it right. I’m beginning to feel like we’re all in a film called Groundhog Semester. Fortunately, engagement with STP colleagues is a reminder that while we have mastered a lot of the art of pandemic teaching, we continue to learn and to teach each other. Maybe we’ll get this term “right” and return to a semblance of pre-pandemic normal.

I plan to use this opportunity to address STP members monthly by highlighting the leaders of the organization, the work that they do, and ways for you to get involved within various STP units. The STP Executive Committee has actively developed policies, such as term limits and open calls for opportunities, in an effort to draw new people into STP service and leadership and to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within STP. I hope that a deeper understanding of the range of what STP does will help you to target areas in which you might contribute. Or you can simply regularly check our Get Involved page on the STP website where current opportunities are posted until a position seems right for you! 

This month, I’m going to feature our Executive Director, Tom Pusateri, and Internet Editor, Jon Westfall. You’ll hear a little from each of them later in this post, including their roles at STP, how they support all of us within STP, and why they value their STP involvement. As you’ll see, they each are responsible for a number of essential roles without which our organization would fall apart. But first, I will highlight the tagging project that Tom and Jon are heading up and for which they’re looking for volunteers. (In coming months, I’ll highlight each of the five Vice Presidential areas – Diversity and International Relations, Grants and Awards, Membership, Programming, and Resources – as well as the important roles of Secretary and Treasurer. I hope it will help you understand STP better as an organization as well as help you find your place within STP.  

The STP website tagging project:

No, this is not a call for graffiti artists! As Jon explains in the call for tagging volunteers, “Ever wish that you could find all of STP’s resources on a given topic in one easy, unified way? So do we! That’s why we’ve been working on a project to tag our resources (teaching materials, eBooks, syllabi, blog posts, you name it) with common words such as “statistics”, “development”, “social”, and of course, “engagement”!” If you want to learn more, email Jon at ie@teachpsych.org. To apply, send your CV by March 31. If you’re new to STP, the tagging project is a great way to get involved and learn more about what we offer!

Executive Director Tom Pusateri, in his own words:

What would you like STP members to know about your position? The Executive Director serves as support staff for members of STP’s Executive Committee (presidential trio, secretary, treasurer, and five vice presidents), for those in STP leadership positions (e.g., editors, programming directors, chairs), for STP members seeking information or assistance, and for nonmembers and representatives from other organizations seeking to join or collaborate with STP.  Some of the main responsibilities of the position include managing the STP membership database; sharing timely announcements via STP’s website, newsletter, social media platforms; developing and sharing resources that support STP leaders (e.g., Gmail accounts; shared Dropbox accounts, maintaining updated bylaws, policies, and procedures); responding to requests for assistance via STP’s primary Gmail account (stp@teachpsych.org); and consulting with APA’s staff on issues pertaining to STP’s identity as Division 2 of APA.

What do you most value about STP? I have been fortunate to work with an incredible group of talented people who have been elected or appointed to leadership positions in STP and the many others who contribute to STP’s committee work, task forces, programming, web-based resources, social media, etc.  Most of these individuals are volunteers who receive no or little compensation for their work, but who serve because they are genuinely committed to supporting fellow teachers of psychology and their students.  This is truly a collaborative group who share a vision, who treat each other with respect, and who feel comfortable sharing differences of opinion with the goal of finding common ground to further STP’s mission.

Internet Editor Jon Westfall, in his own words:

What would you like STP members to know about your position? The Internet Editor is responsible for overseeing STP’s internet properties, from the website to having advisory or oversight roles on the Wikis and the mailing lists while others handle day to day operations. Each time a new resource is posted, a new eBook is published, or pages are modified or created, the Internet Editor or one of my associate editors is involved. Serving as Executive Director, Tom and I also have shared access and oversight on all properties, setting up a redundancy so that if either of us is unavailable, the other has access to take care of pressing matters such as password resets or looking up discrepancies in membership dues or other member information. Finally, the IE also serves as the resident tech advisor anytime someone in STP wants to take on a new project and needs some tech support or investigation. For example, when the tagging project first launched, I scouted options before we eventually settled on the Diigo platform to allow for flexible bookmarking that also would integrate into our web infrastructure. It’s not uncommon for me to get random questions about the best way to create something online, or requests for help in troubleshooting a particularly annoying computer glitch.

What do you most value about STP? As a graduate student who had taught continuing education courses prior to entering grad school, I was shocked to find so many of my colleagues disliked teaching. When I worked in the Ivy League space as a postdoc, I was further shocked at how many treated teaching as a “time suck” that prevented them from doing what they “really wanted” to do. I value STP because everyone in STP values good, innovative, and immersive teaching. We are psychology educators that do not value ourselves solely on the research we do, but on the impact factor only measurable on one student at a time.

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