PRESIDENT LETTER BLOG

This blog contains an archive of "Greetings from the President" that appeared since January 2020 on the STP home page and in STP News.  To view letters from STP Presidents from 2016 through 2019, click here.

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  • 29 Jul 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Convention & Conferences!

    “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh

    Alas, the summer months—at least the summer months as defined by teachers—are soon coming to end.  For some of us, the APA Convention marks the beginning of that transition, as classes start just a week or two following the closing presentation, the fond farewell to friends seen too infrequently, and that last flight home. And of course, all sorts of great ideas often come together at Convention and other conferences! So all sorts of possibilities for new beginnings! Despite my fond feelings today, I remember my first APA Convention many years ago.  After I got home, I vowed to never attend another convention or conference again!   

    Let me describe that first trip.  The Convention was being held in Atlanta and I drove by myself in an old VW bus that I had purchased for $200.  Fortunately, it made it there and back but I needed that old van, as it was also my lodging!  I didn’t know anyone at the Convention and as I registered I was handed a schedule the size of a phone book (i.e., the size of a textbook for those of you who are younger).  The schedule was overwhelming but I found some “big names” I wanted to see, sat in the back, and was in awe but also overwhelmed.  I never spoke to anyone and I think I only stayed for a day or two. Home was a welcome sight!

    Over the years, I have learned a lot about how to maximize the benefit of a good conference but also how to have a fun and enjoyable experience. Note that my second conference was NITOP—National Institute on the Teaching of Psychology.  What was not to like? Small, totally focused on teaching, lots of good food, and did I mention, it was totally focused on teaching psychology!  So, here is what I have learned over the years. 

    First, different conferences have different goals and benefits.  APA Convention is amazing for the vast array of topics.  You are a kid in a psychology candy store including just about any topic you want to explore, a diverse impressive array of presenters, a gift shop, and tons of venders with books and bling. Of course, if APA Convention is too overwhelming, you can just focus on Division 2 (STP) programming – a conference within the Convention! Check out STP’s  full program!   Many of us will just focus on STP programming and events. 

    In September, I’ll write more about STP’s Annual Conference on Teaching.  It is an excellent forum to become connected with psychology teachers across the country and internationally.  Of course, STP also pairs up with other international/national/regional/local conferences. To see the full list of STP-involved programming from regional to international, go to the STP webpage and explore the Programming tab.

    Second, to really benefit from the APA Convention, you need to do a bit of planning, which includes strategizing on how to meet people for conversation, mentoring, networking, and friendships.  Jumping into an old van and winging it is not a good strategy.  Note that APA has a nice Convention app, which includes all the programming, a list of attendees, a scheduling feature, and so much more. Want to hear something from APA President Frank Worrell or learn about pivot teaching – just search the app! Want to see an interview with Noam Chomsky or Steven Pinker—search the app. Want to find all the social hours or roundtable discussions, “yes,” search the app.

    Now here are some of my additional tips to maximize your APA Convention experience! Talk with others for their suggestions.

    Socialize!  I’m an introvert so I often struggle with meeting people. However, the friendships that I have developed over the years couldn’t have happened without meeting a lot of these folks at conferences and convention. Don’t know anyone who is attending convention? Not to worry—send a note out via social media and plan to meet some folks who share interests.  On the first day of Convention, following my Presidential Address—Psychology and Eugenics: Why this History Matters to Teaching Today—there is an event titled, “Old and New Faces of STP" in the same room.  Melissa Maffeo, Director of STP at the APA Convention describes this session: “The goals of this session are to bring some new faces to STP (teaching of psychology should be relevant to most APA attendees, right?), sharing resources that STP has to offer, advertising ways to get involved in STP, and finally, starting conversations about what the future directions of STP might look like. This will be an inclusive and interactive, and fun! session.”  This session will be followed by the social hour. This is a good place to meet people, plan some lunches, dinners, or sightseeing together. Note that almost every division or group will have a social hour, which translates into free food and beverages!

    Poster sessions – Don’t miss out on the poster sessions.  Have a few conversation starters tucked away in your back pocket.  So many great ideas related to teaching or almost any other psychology topic (again, take a look at a few other Divisions). Posters sessions tend to be informal so a good place to start a conversation and begin some networking.

    Listen – Some of the best mentoring advice I’ve gotten through the years has been in informal conversations with colleagues I just met at a conference. One of the things I value most about STP is everyone’s willingness to share what they know, how they teach, what questions they have . . . So be open to listening as well as sharing what you know!

    Pick a few sessions on topics about which you know nothing!  What a gift to be able to bring your new learning back to the classroom and, if you are anything like me, you never get bored when learning something new!

    Thanks to Dr. Melissa Maffeo for coordinating all of the STP Convention events and programming!  She has put together an amazing program!! Check out the full program!

    Note that it is not too late to register!  Airfares are still remarkably cheap. Go to the APA Convention website for more information.  There is a virtual option available for Continuing Education and also main event programming. However, most divisional programming is not being recorded for virtual access. If you are attending in-person, you will receive information about vaccine verification and masking during the Convention.  Important to have fun and learn in a safe environment!  I hope to see you there!


  • 08 Jul 2022 5:42 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”  Anne Frank

    I am a firm believer that teachers hold in their hands the ability to improve the world. We inform, inspire, model, motivate, challenge—we teach. Of course, when I arrive in the classroom, I never arrive alone. Behind me are all of my colleagues, former teachers, and former students who have taught, supported, and inspired me through the years. I am grateful. Additionally, I arrive in the classroom carrying a backpack full of scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) research, resources provided by organizations such as STP, and a wealth of knowledge learned over the years. That backpack is pretty hefty but I could not effectively teach without it. Often, I think I take that backpack for granted, as it is always there when I need it.

    Every year, the STP President has the honor of selecting up to two individuals for special recognition—the STP Presidential Citation.  This citation recognizes “individuals who have made extraordinary life-time contributions to the Society and/or to the teaching of psychology.” This citation recognizes those who have spent their lives helping to stitch and fill the backpack so that we all can continue to excel as teachers.  If there is a common thread between this year’s recipients, it is that they are kind, respectful, humble, and unwavering in their commitment to the teaching of psychology. With all of that in mind, I am honored to announce the 2022 recipients of the STP Presidential Citation: Emily Leary Chesnes and David Kreiner.

    Emily Leary Chesnes, MBA, is the Assistant Director of Precollege and Undergraduate Education at the American Psychological Association (APA). She has also served as Precollege Psychology Program Officer and State Advocacy Assistant at APA and Membership Coordinator with the Council on Undergraduate Research. Most importantly, during her years at APA, she has served as staff support for the APA Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS) committee and their various projects and initiatives.

    Psychology has become a common course offered by many high schools around the globe, and high school psychology teachers have no better friend than Emily Leary Chesnes. As noted by former TOPSS Chair Alison Shaver, “Everything she does is because of the passion she has for high school teachers and her/their love of psychology.”  TOPSS is one of the most active and productive committees within APA producing extensive and invaluable resources for teachers of psychology and Emily’s efforts have made all of that work possible. For example, in 2017, Emily provided support and helped organize the APA Summit on High School Psychology Educationat Weber State University.  She worked tirelessly with the steering committee and seven summit working groups (e.g., science, technology, credentialing, diversity), and assisted with the publication of all summit deliverables such as an introductory psychology video, an assessment guide and exemplars, a diversity self-reflection tool, lab templates, sample lesson plans, and a starter course.  These materials are all available on the Summit website.

    Emily also helps to plan and organize the annual APA/Clark University Workshop for High School, an essential program particularly for new teachers of high school psychology.  Former TOPSS Chair Maria Vita wrote: “I first met Emily at the Clark Conference in 2010. The APA has provided this conference to high school teachers and it was one of the first times I felt truly respected and honored as a teacher. And yes, part of that was the amazing staff at Clark, but I know another part of that was Emily. She made sure that each person felt cared for. I remember eating lunch with her one day and she mentioned grants for the classroom. She was always trying to communicate opportunities for teachers to improve the classroom.” In additional to the APA/Clark Workshop, Emily helped organize and plan the 2019 and 2022 three-day workshop at Oregon State University as well as other numerous pre-convention workshops and one-day workshops for high school teachers as well as online webinars for teachers.  It should be noted that Emily has worked with Dr. Lee Gurel and Dr. David and Mrs. Carol Myers on their remarkable gifts to the American Psychological Foundation to support high school psychology teachers and assist with the management of the grant funding.

    Former TOPSS Chair Maria Vita writes of Emily: “While her conscientiousness is something to admire, her kindness is even more impressive. She is thoughtful of the needs of others and she will wait patiently before giving her concerns. She listens to people. Which is a rarity today.”  Today, we honor Emily’s conscientiousness, kindness, and indefatigable commitment to the teaching of high school psychology with this 2022 STP Presidential Citation.  

    David Kreiner, PhD, is a Professor of Psychological Science at the University of Central Missouri.  David earned his PhD in Human Experimental Psychology at the University of Texas-Austin. He teaches a range of courses such as General Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, History of Psychology, and Advanced Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences.  In addition to being an exemplary teacher, David has been actively engaged in research and contributions to the SoTL literature and unflagging support for STP. He is part of the foundation upon which STP stands.

    STP could not survive without all of the individuals who freely give of their time, expertise, energy, and commitment to the organization. Dave’s contributions extend across the breadth of the organization and highlight his commitment to service and teaching.  Dave has served a number of leadership capacities such as STP Treasurer, Coordinator of the Departmental Consulting Service, Chair of the STP Fellows Committee, and Chair of the Midcareer Mentoring Work Group.  Of course, his service extends beyond these leadership positions as Dave has served on the STP Fund for Excellence Board and as a consulting editor for STP’s journal Teaching of Psychology. He has also regularly served as an ad hoc reviewer for Teaching of Psychology, the Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology and for STP/APA convention programming.  Regardless of role, David has made a lasting contribution to the growth and success of STP.  He has done it quietly, humbly, and with great care to the benefit of all of STP.  

    Although David’s STP work alone would be enough to honor him with this citation, his SoTL work is also exemplary and noteworthy.  His extensive publications and presentations focus on a breadth of topics ranging from reading comprehension to statistics online education to problem-based teaching approaches to computer-based activities. David is definitely a teacher’s teacher and I know we have all learned much from his scholarship over the years.  He has published in flagship journals such as Journal of General Psychology, Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research, and STP’s own Teaching of Psychology. Moreover, if you have ever attended the APA Annual Convention, the Midwest Psychological Association Annual Meeting, or the STP Annual Conference on Teaching, you may have been privileged to see one of David’s presentations. It is a joy to see, experience, and learn from David.  

    STP Past-President Susan Nolan writes of David: “He is the epitome of the quiet, behind-the-scenes force who gets so much done. While getting stuff done, he has also touched so many teachers’ lives with his kindness, humor, and support. He does it all on the grand scale – policies—and on the small scale – friendships.” Today, we honor David’s unwavering dedication to STP, commitment to the teaching of psychology, and impressive SoTL contributions with this 2022 STP Presidential Citation. 

  • 31 May 2022 6:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In the aftermath of World War II, Eleanor Roosevelt traveled to Paris and in a Voice of America radio address (November 11, 1951) stated, “I think that what you want to know—especially you, the women of past-war Europe—is whether you shall be able, tomorrow, to tell your children that peace is at long last, a reality. For it isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”   I’ve thought a lot about this quote over the past few weeks, as the United States (US) has once again experienced a wave of mass shootings including the Tops grocery store in Buffalo and the Uvalde elementary school massacres.  Certainly, there is very little that I can say here that hasn’t already been said in other forums (I’ve added some links below to my writings on this topic, a column by Dr. Dave Myers, and APA resources).  These deaths are horrific, are difficult to predict, and should never happen.  Our hearts bleed for the victims, their families, and communities. All of us want to be able to tell our students, our families, that maybe tomorrow, “peace is at long last, a reality.”

    All of us want an end to this war of violence, the pandemic of hate, and domestic terror. I think all of us would agree that there is much work to be done culturally and politically. 

    Now please realize that I in no way want to diminish the atrocities of mass killings. Regardless, when it comes to my teaching and my classroom, I know that the odds of a lone gunman coming into my classroom or even my campus are small—not impossible but low in probability.  Most schools and colleges provide training for faculty, staff, and students to spot issues and have increased security measures. Yet every day, I most likely have untold numbers of students entering my classroom who have experienced violence and trauma.  Whether victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, muggings, a friend’s suicide, or gun violence within their neighborhoods, violence is not new to their lives but rarely makes a headline.  The focus largely on school shootings is an all too sad example of the availability heuristic.  Although, we may be relatively helpless to address mass shootings, we can be there for our students who experience violence as part of their everyday lives. We can know the resources at our institutions and communities so as to provide support for these students.

    Promoting Peaceful Classrooms

    In 1999, following the school shootings at Columbine, STP President Jane Halonen put together a task force entitled, “Promoting Peaceful Classrooms.” The task force members included Christopher M. Hakala, PhD, Gail Matthews, PhD, Virginia Ryan, MS, Michael Van Slyk, PhD, Janie Wilson, PhD, and me (Chair).  I went back and reviewed the materials we put together for a presentation at the APA Convention in 2000, which included: a discussion of the research concerning building cooperative and positive classroom environments; specific strategies that professors can use to facilitate a positive learning environment; and an introduction to programs and methods of conflict management and violence prevention. We just began to scratch the surface of how we can make our classrooms safe and inclusive.  So, let’s explore a little further how promoting peaceful classrooms relates to the topic of school violence. 

    Peace scholar John Galtung (1969, 1996) differentiated between positive peace and negative peace. Too often, individuals conceptualize peace as an absence of direct violence or conflict. For example, a teacher may assume that they have a peaceful classroom simply if the classroom is orderly and no one is bullying or hitting another student. However, this characterization only defines the concept of negative peace and does not encompass the equally important concept of positive peace (Shields, 2017).  Negative peace addresses interventions during times of violence—interventions designed to prevent destructive actions such as bullying, harassment, physical fighting, or school shootings. Such interventions are important and necessary components in an effort to build safe schools.

    In contrast, the aims of positive peace focus on reducing structural and cultural forms of violence and enhancing social equality and opportunity. Positive peace focuses on building schools and classrooms characterized by conditions of enablement, social equality, justice, and respect for human rights. Positive peace in schools cannot be attained unless we address issues of racism, sexism, ageism, anti-LGBTQ+ bias, ableism, classism, Euro-ethnocentrism, and other forms of bias and discrimination within what we teach, how we teach, and the classroom environment. Additionally, positive peace involves addressing social, political, economic, and ecological injustices within our educational systems. The ramifications of educational disparities and differential availability of services in the US are not insignificant. For example, a clear connection exists between crime—and most likely violence—and literacy.  According to the Literacy Project (2022), “85% of juvenile offenders have problems reading; 3 out of 5 people in American prisons can’t read.”

    Eleanor Roosevelt speaking at a luncheon in Stuttgart stated, “More than ending war, we must put an end to the conditions that cause war,” to which I would add that we must also put an end to conditions that inherently cause destructive harm. All of us want our students to be in classrooms and schools where they feel safe. A key component of that sense of safety is that they feel valued, respected, and included.  There is a lot in the world for which we have little control. However, we can work to create classrooms characterized as peaceful.  Although not a definitive list, here are some important elements that I think are important.

    ·        Build an inclusive classroom and curriculum

    ·        Recognize the importance of teacher immediacy

    ·        Model respect, empathy, and kindness

    ·        Engage in difficult dialogues

    ·        Teach conflict resolution skills

    ·        Teach and model restorative justice

    ·        Service learning

    ·        Teach collaborative work skills

    It is important to recognize that how we interact with the students in the classroom is just as important as what we teach in the classroom. As you can see from the above, the list focuses on promoting peaceful classrooms through the development of positive peace. If our focus solely is on addressing negative peace, we may only sow fear, helplessness, and a sense of despair.

    Now you may look at this list and think, “what now?” Good ideas, but how do I go about taking these ideas and transforming them into practice within the classroom? Fortunately, there are many within STP who have been researching and writing on these topics for many years.   Simply, log into your STP membership and begin your search through our STP journal, Teaching of Psychology, which is available on our website.  But wait—there’s more! Look under the Resources tab and you will find a range of eBooks and other teaching resources related to the topic or included as chapters (e.g., in the Compendium of Conference Presentations). Also, come to Minneapolis and learn at the APA Convention this August, as STP has a full schedule of relevant programming.  Also, at Convention there are programs from other Divisions related to topics such as peace and school shootings. And don’t forget to check out STP’s Annual Conference on Teaching—more information will be coming soon!

    In the meantime, remember that although we cannot control all that is happening in the US related to increases in mass shootings, we can have a daily positive impact in the lives of our students. We can engage in promoting peaceful classrooms that are havens of learning, discovery, relationship, and excitement—all in an inclusive and safe space for everyone.  And let’s remember, “For it isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”   Let’s all get to work for peace.

    References

    American Psychological Association. (2022).  APA resources for coping with mass shootings, understanding gun violence. https://www.apa.org/topics/gun-violence-crime/mass-shooting-resources

    Galtung, J. (1969). Violence, peace and peace research. Journal of Peace Research, 3, 176–191. doi:10.1177/002234336900600301

    Galtung, J. (1996). Peace by peaceful means: Peace and conflict, development and civilization. Sage.

    Literacy Project. (2022). Illiteracy by the numbers. https://literacyproj.org/

    Myers, D. (2019). Do something! Stop mass shootings and prevent suicides! But what can psychology contribute? Macmillan Learning. https://community.macmillanlearning.com/t5/talk-psych-blog/do-something-stop-mass-shootings-and-prevent-suicides-but-what/ba-p/6090?fbclid=IwAR0-6y4gA8TDYo2SfEDlRmLNhgvyegbtQZPIjRzofF2zXrnbs32I9AwMT04

    Shields, P. M. (2017). Limits of negative peace, face of positive peace. Parameters, 47(3), 5-12.

    Woolf, L. M. (2018, February 15). Mass shootings: What role do guns play. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-fight-against-hate/201802/mass-shootings-what-role-do-guns-play

    Woolf, L. M. (2018, March 4). Arming teachers: Good or bad idea? Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-fight-against-hate/201803/arming-teachers-good-or-bad-idea

    Woolf, L. M. (2019, August 4). Mass shooting: Shifting blame and shifting focus. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-fight-against-hate/201908/mass-shooting-shifting-blame-and-shifting-focus

  • 10 May 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    May: A Time for Reflection and Appreciating Yourself as a Teacher

    Linda Woolf, STP President

    May 8, 2022

    The duties of a teacher are neither few nor small, but they elevate the mind and give energy to the character." –Dorothea Dix

    For teachers, the months of May and June always bring forth a mix of emotions—joy, hope, dread, anxiety, regret . . . The academic year is grinding to a halt, with firm deadlines—the administration is not going to accommodate a request for “just two more weeks.” Graduation, students moving out of dorms, advanced placement (AP) tests, summer jobs, and a host of other events mark the transition from one school year to a break before the beginning of a new year months away. You may have even gotten a small token of “teacher appreciation” (i.e., a plant) with the operative word being “small.” Some of us may still teach during the summer but it always feels a bit different than during the “regular” academic year. Nonetheless, the end of the year is a time for reflection and even a bit of future planning.  And, yes, for teachers, the end of the year is often not marked on December 31—that is just a time to party during “winter break” or pack for NITOP

    Looking Back: A Time for Reflection

    Each semester, many of us assign self-reflection papers or student journals as part of our courses.  We want our students to think deeply and critically about the concepts learned in class and the application of ideas to their everyday lives. As we finish another academic year, I hope that all of us will similarly look back over the past year and critically reflect on our teaching. However, I also hope that we can connect that reflection to our values as teachers.

    As some of you know, I am on Facebook and periodically post on the STP Facebook page but I also follow other teaching and psychology related groups on Facebook.  It is this time of year when we see so many posts about the AP exam, inclusive of teachers questioning whether they taught the right things, whether they gave bad advice about how to take the test, and concerns about not compromising the test. Every AP teacher wants to do everything right, so that their students have the best chance at success. For all teachers, we see questions/posts about handling instances of academic dishonesty, running out of time to meet all the teaching goals we set for ourselves, stories of challenged grades, questions about rubrics, as well as stories of success.  These are all reflections but often reactive rather than proactive, situational rather than sustainable.

    For many teachers, these past two years have been the most challenging of their entire careers.  So I hope as your first reflection, you will pause and give yourself credit for all of your accomplishments. You have made a difference in the very stress-filled lives of your students and their families, as well as your colleagues and communities.  The pandemic forced many of us to try all sorts of new pedagogical and learning strategies and modalities. Take a moment to sit down and congratulate yourself, for handling all of the new challenges and for being adaptive and innovative. You not only survived but also grew as a teacher.

    Second, I hope you will examine all that you did right and where you fell short in your teaching. Sit down and focus on all that you did right. Think about what you did that was successful and how you can carry those practices into the future. If you had some failures along the way, reflect on what you can learn from those experiences but do not define the past two years by those missteps.  Yes, take a look at your course evaluations but look for the constructive comments.  If you are like me, you make a beeline to the most negative comment and dwell on that feedback. Well, sometimes these comments are the most instructive and can help you grow as a teacher. So, pause and critically examine the content of that comment. Of course, there are times, when a student may state that they don’t like your shoes (yes, I got that comment) and you can ignore such feedback. Also, look at the positive comments separating out the unhelpful (“Best professor ever!” Feels good doesn’t it!) from the instructive (“I really liked this assignment because . . .”) comments. Such information will help you plan for the future. Of course, I am a big fan of mid-semester course evaluations or conversations as a tool for reflection and possible course change during each semester (e.g., Keutzer, 1993). I’ve done it both formally and informally depending on the class size and level of the course. Each class is unique and such evaluations are helpful to learn if you are meeting these students’ particular needs and interests, as well as demonstrates respect for your students. It highlights that they are partners in the learning process.

    Third, you can evaluate all sorts of other markers of whether you feel you were successful in the past year or not. For example, I like to look at whether I successfully met the learning outcomes for the course using the results of various assessments as a measure for each of these goals. Or you can examine overall grades for each of your courses, comparing these grades to previous semesters.  Or you can evaluate your time management if you finished the material early or, more likely, ran out of time at the end of the term. There are lots of ways you can assess your own endeavors as a teacher.

    Further Reflection on Values

    Further, I really want you to reflect on your values as a teacher. Obviously, we want our students to learn and apply psychology to their everyday lives. But, what else do you value? You might reflect first on those teachers who stood out both positively and negatively in your life and what they did that was important. For me, it was whether the teacher exhibited respect for me and value for me as a human being. Hopefully, the days are gone when it was considered acceptable for a teacher to be disrespectful based on power and status or worse, based on differences in gender, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, national origin, LGBTQ+ identity, disability, and other elements of personal/cultural identity. I want students to see that I care about them as human beings and know that I will treat them with respect and dignity. I want students to see me as accessible if they are experiencing difficulties. I may not be able to fix their problems but I can listen and point them to appropriate resources for help. So, throughout the year, but particularly at the year’s end, I reflect on whether I treated students with fairness, kindness, support, and respect.

    Some other values for me are communication, alternate views of success for students, and cultural humility. I am grateful to students for their openness in discussions and all the feedback they provide me through the year. I’ve reframed “success” being tied to stellar academic achievement—it comes easy to some students—but rather tied to individual growth. I recall the 60+-year old student who never took a math class during her time in an inner-city high school. She worked like crazy, was incredibly stressed, had to learn new skills but ultimately she passed statistics with a C grade. I also remember the parent at graduation who came up profusely thanking the psychology faculty, as her son struggled throughout college. Mom never thought he would ever finish but he walked across the stage and got his diploma. These are the sorts of accomplishments that do not make it on any marketing posters but make a tangible difference in the lives of individual students, their families, and communities. I’ve also come to know that my cultural values and traditions, many of which are grounded in mainstream psychology, are not universal and there is so much that I do not know about other peoples and cultures. Hence, I have a commitment to work aimed at anti-bias education and decolonizing my courses, recognizing that I too have much to learn.

    So, take a moment. Grab a cup of coffee, tea, or perhaps an adult beverage. Find a quiet place and reflect on your values as a teacher.  How do these values shape your courses and teaching? I’m sure that some of your values and goals may be different than mine. And such differences make for great diverse educational environments and opportunities for students. Regardless, think about what is important to you and then examine how you translated those values into your courses this past year. Chances are—despite COVID, despite the stresses of the world—you will have much to celebrate as you reflect on how your values informed your accomplishments during the past year.

    And as a final thought: Know that I am grateful for all of you amazing teachers and your work is truly

    Reference

    Keutzer, C. S. (1993). Midterm evaluation of teaching provides helpful feedback to instructors. Teaching of Psychology, 20(4), 238-240. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15328023top2004_12
  • 08 Apr 2022 9:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Power of Teaching

    Linda Woolf, STP President

    April 8, 2022

    Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.

    Kofi Annan, Former United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, 1997

    Kofi Annan (1997) was not only the 7th Secretary-General to lead the UN but also a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who’s worked tirelessly for human rights, sustainable economic development, and international peace and freedom. Originally from Ghana, Annan worked his way up through the ranks of the UN to become a powerful voice—a voice aimed at lifting up those living in fear, conflict, and deep poverty. When given the opportunity to speak before the World Bank Conference on “Global Knowledge,” held in Toronto in 1997, he spoke about the power of information and education, as key to addressing local and global problems. He stated:

    We at the United Nations are convinced that information has a great democratizing power waiting to be harnessed to our global struggle for peace and development. We believe this because we are convinced that it is ignorance, not knowledge, that makes enemies of men. It is ignorance, not knowledge, that makes fighters of children. It is ignorance, not knowledge, that leads some to advocate tyranny over democracy. It is ignorance, not knowledge, that makes some think that human misery is inevitable. It is ignorance, not knowledge, that make others say that there are many worlds, when we know that there is one. Ours.

    With these words in mind, I celebrate that I am a teacher. I love teaching and I am passionate about what I teach. I love psychology and appreciate all of its underlying theoretical and philosophical ambiguities, its methodologies, and its concern for individuals, organizations, communities, and the planet. Psychology is a complex, challenging, and important discipline—a discipline interconnected with numerous other fields of study and practice. Fundamental to my passion for teaching is the belief that what I teach is important—it has value to people’s lives individually and collectively within a multi-cultural global community. What we teach and what our students learn make a tangible difference in their lives and the lives of others.

    Sadly, teaching is often undervalued. We see this marginalization of teachers in many forums within the United States (US). Indeed, we too often see a perceived hierarchy of value within psychology related to who teaches what kind of students and in what type of setting. In meetings, I have seen celebrations and congratulations when a colleague’s university has moved “up” the rankings of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The intention of these rankings is purely classification and based on number and types of degrees awarded (e.g., Doctorates) and amount of research. It is not designed to imply that one school necessarily is better than another but rather just documents differences in institutional focus. Yet, movement from an R2 to an R1 is often celebrated because it is perceived as an increase in status, prestige, and overall worth of an institution and the individuals who study/teach at such institutions. The rankings imply a hierarchy of worth.

    Occasionally, I will meet someone, and they will ask the proverbial, “What do you do?” question. I answer that I am a teacher. Occasionally, the person will get excited and comment that they are also a teacher. The conversation is off to a good start! Then they ask, “Where do you teach?” and I name my university. It saddens my heart, when on occasion they reply, “Oh, I only teach . . .” adding high school, junior high or at some other level. Why the modifier of “only”? Of course, I experience the flip side when I meet a person and I hear the disappointed “Oh” and loss of eye contact when they learn I do not teach at an R1/2 university.

    Now I personally think that high school teachers of psychology are absolute heroes! They represent the front line of bringing psychology to hundreds of thousands of students each year across the US. These students may never attend a college of any sort, but they will bring what they have learned in their psychology classes into their future careers and lives. And it is not just content (i.e., psychological literacy), but these students also have learned the fundamentals of scientific thinking and reasoning—skills aimed at making them better consumers of information and better citizens. They learn about the diversity of the human experience and ethical reasoning. High school teachers are the front line in the fight against ignorance, as described by Kofi Annan (1997). High school teachers of psychology are some of the best-prepared and most knowledgeable teachers of introductory psychology that I have ever met. And while I am at it—I can say the same thing about community college teachers. Our community college colleagues are excellent teachers, who are focused on providing high quality educational experiences to students across a range of psychology courses. Remember that First Lady Jill Biden is a proud community college teacher!

    Although, within some circles, a hierarchy of worth exists based on where one teaches, I think it is important to know that this belief is NOT supported within the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (STP). We are all teachers, and all of our voices are valued. Regardless of who you are and where you teach, your voice is welcome and heard. Everyone can join in discussions, ask questions, engage in professional scholarship (e.g., conference presentations; eBook chapters), apply for grants/awards, participate in committees and task forces, and run for office! There are many opportunities and resources, some of which are focused specifically for high school and community college teachers (e.g., High School Teacher Travel Grants; Wayne Weiten Teaching Excellence Award—2-year colleges; Mary Margaret Moffett Memorial Teaching Excellence Award—high school). Regardless, we are all teachers, and we share that common bond.

    I should add that I had the privilege of working with APA Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools (TOPSS) a few years back. What an amazing group of individuals and indeed, many within STP have been involved in TOPSS over the years, such as Kristin Whitlock, current STP Vice President for Programming, who teaches at Davis High School in Kaysville, Utah. If you haven’t checked out the TOPSS webpage, run and take a look at all the resources, which you too can use in your courses!

    Kofi Annan (1997) spoke of “What can we do, what can you do” in relation to education on a global, as a key element of international peace, sustainable development, and human security. Some of his key points involved global access/reduced censorship, with a focus on shared information between countries across a range of technologies with improved infrastructure supports. Certainly, STP’s international initiatives and partnerships fit within this vision. But Annan also included the following:

    • Initiate innovative approaches to education and learning at all levels, understanding the cultural contexts in order to ensure the greatest achievement of knowledge.
    • Ensure that the young will be the first to gain this knowledge and to make it their partner in the pursuit of a better, richer life for themselves and for their peoples.

    Recognizing the value of K-12 teachers, community college teachers, teachers on tribal lands, teachers at HBCUs, online teachers, programs aimed at first generation college students, teachers in prisons, and others reaching out to make education inclusive and accessible for all students fulfills the vision of Kofi Annan. Eliminating our beliefs, both implicit and explicit, about not just a hierarchy of what students are worthy but also the value of different educational contexts is essential. We need to change the hierarchical narrative to a vision that values diversity, equity, and inclusion for students, for teachers, and across educational contexts and opportunities.

    Certainly, these ideas are mirrored in the STP Mission Statement (just in case you haven’t seen it!):

    The Society for the Teaching of Psychology promotes excellence in the teaching and learning of psychology. The Society provides resources and services, access to a global collaborative community, and opportunities for professional development. It endeavors to promote equity and social justice for teachers and students of psychology with marginalized, racially minoritized, and intersecting identities. The Society also strives to advance the scholarship of teaching and learning; advocate for the needs of teachers of psychology; promote diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives within the teaching and learning of psychology; foster partnerships across academic settings; and increase recognition of the value of the teaching profession.

    Reference

    Annan, K. (1997, June 23). Press release: 'If information and knowledge are central to democracy, they are conditions for development', says Secretary-General. https://www.un.org/press/en/1997/19970623.sgsm6268.html

  • 09 Mar 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Linda Woolf, 2022 STP President

    Early in my career, I began attending teaching conferences. As a confirmed introvert, I was really nervous—these conferences tend to be small and include some big names in the teaching of psychology (STP’s Annual Conference on Teaching is an excellent example and opportunity).  Nonetheless, I knew I needed to learn more about the fundamentals of teaching and I wanted an opportunity to share my own professional scholarship. One year, I put together a poster about teaching the Holocaust to psychology students and a year later, another poster entitled, “Genocide, mass violence, and human rights.” These posters sparked a lot of interest and conversation. However, I also got the occasional comment: “What does this have to do with psychology?” and “This is too political!”

    Such comments are still present today and pop up in many forums.  Someone will raise an issue concerning a current event on Facebook and someone else will chime in with comments that this page is about teaching and not politics. At conferences when policies are being debated or presentations involve current world events, someone will invariably state that the pendulum has moved too far towards the political spectrum and we need to move back to the science. Those statements, generally very well-meaning, are grounded in assumptions about our discipline and science.   

    When I was first faced with such comments, I responded with a nervous, “We study all kinds of human behavior. Why not study people killing other people in large numbers?” Today my responses are more nuanced and specific.  For example, I have a passion for human rights, particularly for those persons and peoples who have been routinely denied such rights in the United States and around the globe. A political topic? Absolutely. Unrelated to science? Absolutely not.  Science and human rights do not exist as opposite ends of the spectrum but rather respect for human rights is a fundamental ethical principle underlying science. Indeed, when human rights have been ignored, we have examples of bad science (e.g., Tuskegee, Tearoom Trade, Fernald School radiation studies). We can make the same case about the interrelatedness of issues such as social justice and diversity to science and discuss the historic use of science as a tool for political oppression when justice/diversity concerns and populations are ignored.

    Sadly, today the reality of science itself has become designated as a political topic Science is being uniformly dismissed, denied, and devalued—essentially equated with political opinion. I doubt that many of us would challenge the importance of critical thinking and skepticism when reviewing scientific findings. Indeed, those are fundamental components of the scientific process. However, the current trend of anti-science or scientific denial is a completely different creature. Lewandowsky and colleagues (2016) document that those who deny scientific research often rely on conspiracy theories and engage in personal attacks on researchers. Of course, it is important to note that such scientific denialism can come from all ends of the political spectrum (Lobato & Zimmerman, 2018).  Regardless, if used ethically, science, inclusive of both qualitative and quantitative research, can help to provide answers to issues, which impact us personally, locally, and globally.

    So can we as teachers ignore events in the world around us today because the issue may be deemed “political”? Over the past two years, our students have been exposed to and are concerned about a host of world events, which are increasingly being defined as largely political: COVID, the attack on Ukraine, Supreme Court cases related to the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals and Indigenous rights, #Me Too movement, challenged elections, and the death of George Floyd and countless others translating into the Black Lives Matter movement, the impact climate change, and the list goes on. Psychology has a lot to say and offer about all of these topics and more.  For some of these topics (e.g., diversity), you can find teaching resources on the STP webpage –just explore!

    Regardless, in some states within the US, laws are being passed prohibiting the teaching of topics deemed too political.  For example, laws against teaching critical race theory could severally impact the ability of psychology teachers to address not only topics of prejudice and discrimination but most importantly, systemic and structural foundations of oppression based on race and ethnicity, as defined in the US. Or how can teachers, particularly our amazing colleagues who teach high school psychology address topics of human sexuality and gender diversity if such topics are prohibited in the classroom? Indeed, the College Board has issued a set of principles, which includes the following:

    AP opposes censorship. AP is animated by a deep respect for the intellectual freedom of teachers and students alike. If a school bans required topics from their AP courses, the AP Program removes the AP designation from that course and its inclusion in the AP Course Ledger provided to colleges and universities. For example, the concepts of evolution are at the heart of college biology, and a course that neglects such concepts does not pass muster as AP Biology.

    At first glance, it might seem “easier” to just avoid topics, which might be deemed “too political” or lead to difficult dialogues in the classroom. And, I should note that the risks are real for teachers in some educational contexts.  Regardless, I would encourage you not to avoid these topics, if you can. Such avoidance may lead students to see psychology as irrelevant or out of touch with the world they face every day. Moreover, we want our students to come to understand our science, the contributions it can make to the world, and for them to learn the skills and knowledge needed to be effective citizens in a rapidly changing global environment. Additionally, these topics affect many of our students in a personal way. For example, to ignore current issues related to the rights of LGBTQ+ students, the rights of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian-Pacific Islander, and other students of color, the reproductive rights of women, etc. sends a message that somehow our students may be unworthy because of who they are—they should be ignored. Of course, that is not true and we need to recognize that our science is not only political but it is also personal.

    I would be remiss if I didn’t provide a few suggestions so you can keep yourself out of trouble.

    Stay grounded in research and scholarship. Use the resources provided by United Nations, APA, the research literature, etc., and when in class, always come back to a critical evaluation of these sources. There are a significant number of materials on the APA website, particularly the Public Interest website. There you will find a host of policies, resources, and publications, all extensively referenced. You will also find information to help students who may themselves be struggling to survive due to the stresses of marginalization, war, COVID, poverty, and more. For example, just this week, APA published, “How to handle the trauma of war from afar” (Abrams, 2022).

    Draw on history for examples. Current topics may spark great discussions but may also lead to emotional thinking and arguments. Have students search for and draw connections to the past and review the research on those topics.

    Model respectful dialogue. Establish and model what you expect of your students and the critical thinking skills necessary for evaluating psychological research on “political” topics. It is both what you say and how you say it that can either promote or inhibit respectful dialogue. Note that there are numerous resources online about effectively navigating controversial conversations (e.g., DifficultDialogues.org). 

    Reach out for support. When in doubt, reach out to your colleagues, your administration, and your STP friends.  STP is active on social media, so drop by and have a conversation.

    Throughout my career, I have often reflected on the words of Dr. Carolyn Payton, a psychologist who was also the first woman and first African-American to serve as Director of the United States Peace Corps.  In her address to the APA Convention, upon receiving a life-time achievement award, she asked,  “Who must do the hard things?” She then gave the answer, “Those who can.” She further referenced a colleague who expanded the query with, “Who must do the impossible things? Those who care” (Payton, 1984, p. 397).  As teachers of psychology, we not only can do the hard things because we care, we can teach our students to follow a similar path. We can highlight that what they learn matters and they too can go out, exhibit care, and make a difference in the world.

    References

     

    Abrams, Z. (2022, February 28). How to handle the trauma of war from afar. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/news/apa/2022/trauma-war-afar

    Lewandowsky, S., Mann, M. E., Brown, N. J. L., & Friedman H. (2016). Science and the public: Debate, denial, and skepticism. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 4, 537–553. doi:10.5964/jspp.v4i2.604

    Lobato, E. J. C., & Zimmerman, C. (2018). The Psychology of (pseudo)science: Cognitive, social, and cultural factors. In A. B. Kaufman & J. C. Kaufman (Eds.) Pseudoscience: The conspiracy against science (pp. 21-44). MIT Press.

    Payton, C. R. (1984).  Who must do the hard things? American Psychologist, 39, 391-397. doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.39.4.391

  • 05 Feb 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    February: Let’s Celebrate Black History Month!

    Linda Woolf, STP President

    "Won't it be wonderful when Black history and Native American history and Jewish history and all of US history is taught from one book. Just US history. I am trying to work myself out of a job by being so active extolling the virtues of African Americans." Maya Angelou (cited in Muir, 2012)

    Often discussions of the history of Blacks in the United States (US) have focused on the destructive harms committed by privileged Whites against Africans forcibly brought to this country and enslaved. It is an essential history to learn, as is learning about the far-reaching legacies left behind from the eras of enslavement and racist eugenic ideas of human hierarchies to today with the ongoing fight for social justice. Certainly, the American Psychological Association (APA) has been grappling with this history and has begun the processes of apology, reconciliation, and reparative justice.  STP also has been wrestling with its own history and legacies, issuing the Statement on Addressing Systemic Racism and Inequity in STP and looking at structural processes affecting diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.  Moreover, STP is working actively to increase diversity related resources, blog posts, publications, conference offerings, and more.  Important work but is there anything else we should be reflecting on during Black History Month? The answer is “Yes!”

    What is often omitted from Black history discussions are the legacies of resilience, accomplishments/triumphs, inspired communities, rich cultural tapestries, and soaring spirits of African-Americans, who not only survived but also thrived under systems of exclusion. I think it is this history that forms the basis for celebrating Black History Month, which sets the stage for greater inclusion throughout the year.

    I’m sure that many of you are like me, and when psychology was first introduced to you, you were taught about the “fathers of psychology”—a bunch of White men.  Gradually, over the years, I was introduced to women pioneers in the field, who previously had been written out of history. However, I still was not exposed to the breadth of Black pioneering psychologists, who have shaped our discipline. There is an amazing history for us to explore, learn, and celebrate.  So for this Black History Month, I want to recognize the work of a few of these Black pioneer psychologists and call on everyone to learn more.

    Many psychology textbooks today include the story of Kenneth Clark and Mamie Phipps Clark. Kenneth Clark became the first African-American President of APA and both are remembered for their pivotal work before and during the Civil Rights Movement. Most notably, they are recognized for their groundbreaking Doll Study research, which paved the way for their expert testimony before the Supreme Court in 1954 with Brown vs. Board of Education, ending mandated segregation of schools. 

    However, how many of us have learned about Inez Beverly Prosser, PhD, “the first Black women to earn a doctorate in psychology”? Her dissertation, “The Non-Academic Development of Negro Children in Mixed and Segregated Schools,” helped form the basis for early arguments against school segregation and was also cited in that 1954 Supreme Court case. Of course, I should also mention Ruth Winifred Howard, PhD, “the first African-American women to earn a doctorate in psychology,” who worked with troubled girls as well as students with special needs. As to who really was “the first,” it appears to depend on whom you read and your definition of what should count as a psychology doctoral degree at the time.

    Of course, we know that desegregation did not simply end segregation. Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD. in her book, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria And Other Conversations About Race, wrote, “Our public schools are more segregated today than they were in 1980, as measured by the percentage of all Black students who are attending schools that are ’90-100% non-White” (2017; Prologue).  Dr. Tatum’s examination of the effects of racism on Black children’s identities in school and problems with the educational system earned her the 2014 APA Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to Psychology.  

    Some other early educational leaders:

    Francis Cecil Sumner, PhD, is often referred to as the “Father of Black Psychology.”  He was the first African-American to earn a doctorate in psychology. He helped found the Psychology Department at Howard University and served as a teacher and mentor to individuals such as the Clarks.

    Albert Sidney Beckham, PhD, is often cited as the first Black school psychologist. He also worked to found the first psychology laboratory at Howard University. His research examined a range of topics such as artistic and musical abilities in Black children, IQ testing, the role of the environment in juvenile delinquency, and racial attitudes of Black adolescents. 

    George Canady, PhD. was the first psychologist to study bias in IQ tests by examining the role and effect of the test administrator on the IQ results for non-White children.

    Robert Lee Williams, II, PhD, challenged the idea that IQ test results were equitable and is remembered as the creator of the Black Intelligence Test of Cultural Homogeneity. He demonstrated that differences in IQ often cited by eugenicists to falsely claim White superiority failed to address differences in the environment and culture.

    Joseph White, PhD, wrote and advocated for the creation of Black Psychology. He argued that the application of White psychology defined as normal created the illusion of an inferior Black Psychology. In his writing he focused on a strength-based approach and description of Black psychology and culture. He is one of the founders of the Association of Black Psychologists. As such, he also has been described as the “Father of Black Psychology.”

    Of course, there are too many individuals to celebrate in this short column!  I do want to mention two others as their work and legacies are remarkable beyond the university and are just personal favorites of mine.

    Carolyn Robertson Payton, EdD, was the first psychologist, first female, and first African-American Director of the US Peace Corps.  A pioneer in the field of multi-cultural psychology, Payton (1984) asked, “Who must do the hard things?” (p. 391).  She stressed that psychology has an important role to play in understanding and addressing social issues.  As an educator, leader, mentor, scholar, and policy-maker, Payton confronted issues of social inequality and justice exemplifying her belief that psychology is not just about research but also direct action to improve the lives of others.

    Olivia Hooker, PhD was originally rejected by the Navy but challenged the Navy’s decision and won. Nevertheless, she decided not to join the Navy and went on to become the first African-American woman to enter the U.S. Coast Guard and served towards the end of and after WWII. Later, Dr. Hooker became a school psychologist. It also is important to highlight that she was a survivor of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre.

    Of course, I could write about so many other Black psychologists who have shaped our discipline and our understanding of psychology. But more importantly, how can we help our students learn this history and include Black psychology into our work today?

    One of the projects that I do with my History of Psychology class is something I call the “Lost in History” project.  I give them a basic instruction: “You will be responsible for creating a one-page infographic highlighting the works of an early psychologist who has been lost in history due to their status within a marginalized group.” I also tell them that they cannot select a person who is already presented in their textbook. I provide them some basic resources such as APA’s I Am Psyched and Ethnicity, Race, and Cultural Affairs Portfolio (ERCA) Featured Psychologists.  I have these students provide each other feedback about their work with opportunities for revision. Then (during non-COVID times), we place these infographics around the department as a way to celebrate these psychologists’ accomplishments through the entire year.

    In my Introduction to Psychology class, I open the class by highlighting the work of a range of psychologists with various intersectional identities. I want my students to see individuals who look and identify similar to themselves—individuals who have gone on to amazing careers in psychology and related fields.  A quick look at recent Black APA Presidents includes: Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD., first Black woman President of the Association, Rosie Phillips Davis, PhD, Jennifer F. Kelly, PhD, and current APA President Frank Worrell, PhD.  You can read about Dr. Worrell and then explore links to previous Presidents on the governance webpage. You will find brief biographies but also links to videos and publications. In addition, I like to have my students look online for research and publications by Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) psychologists, neuroscientists, etc. related to the various topics we cover in class. I want them to not only learn about the research and accomplishments but also to see their own possible futures.

    As we progress through Black History Month, let us work with our students to highlight the work of Black Psychologists and other leaders, celebrating their lives and accomplishments. If you learn about a BIPOC scholar that got “lost in history” or someone who everyone should know about today, share what you have learned on the STP Facebook page, via Twitter, or other social media. Let us all learn and celebrate together.

    For more information about Black History Month, see:

    References

    Muir, H. (2012, February 15).  Maya Angelou: 'Barack Obama has done a remarkable job.’ The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/feb/15/maya-angelou-barack-obama-remarkable-job

    Payton, C. R. (1984).  Who must do the hard things? American Psychologist, 39, 391-397.

    Tatum, B. D. (2017). Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria and other conversations about race (Kindle edition). Basic Books.

  • 17 Jan 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Legacy and Call to Action

    By Linda M. Woolf, STP President

    I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education, and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Today we celebrate and honor the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is a day of remembrance but also a day of action. In 1994, Congress passed legislation designating the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal holiday as a Day of Service—"a day on, not a day off." Around the country, individuals are engaged in endeavors designed to improve the lives of others, build communities, break down barriers, and spread the message of Dr. King. It is a day of kindness grounded in a message of social justice.

    In 1967, Dr. King addressed the American Psychological Association (APA) at the annual convention. If you have not read his speech or if you have not read it recently, please take a moment to read and reflect: The Role of the Behavioral Scientist in the Civil Rights Movement. Although the language used today may be different, the concerns and challenges raised by Dr. King are just as real and profound as over a half-century ago—protest, political division, voting, war, discrimination, unemployment, vast disparities built into the structures of society, and daily injustices directed against individuals based on the color of their skin. As stated by Dr. King, “It is my deep conviction that justice is indivisible, that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The work and vision of Dr. King is unfinished.

    In his address to convention, Dr. King spoke about a common psychological concept—maladjustment.  However, he argued against “adjustment” to what long has been defined as “normal”—a historically-defined “normal,” which includes not only deeply rooted prejudice and discrimination within society but also cultural, structural, and systemic barriers oppressing Black individuals and communities in the United States. As noted by Dr. King, “discrimination explains a great deal, but not everything.” 

    Today, we recognize that many of our beliefs and social structures were created with the idea of White European ancestry and culture as “normal” and all others defined as “different” and in need of adjustment, assimilation, or civilization. We recognize many of these biases remain within our society, as to what is defined as “normal” and hence “correct” based on ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation, religion, economic status, age, language, immigration status, physical and mental abilities, and so many other expressions of humanity. Within psychology, simply the term “abnormal psychology” carries with it a host of beliefs and attributions about individuals who experience “disorder.” Should we resist change to our beliefs and our actions simply because we have adjusted to ideas of what is “normal” or more often, “We have always done it this way”?  Dr. King spoke to those of us in psychology:

    I am sure that we will recognize that there are some things in our society, some things in our world, to which we should never be adjusted. There are some things concerning which we must always be maladjusted if we are to be people of good will. We must never adjust ourselves to racial discrimination and racial segregation. We must never adjust ourselves to religious bigotry. We must never adjust ourselves to economic conditions that take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. We must never adjust ourselves to the madness of militarism, and the self-defeating effects of physical violence.

    This past October, APA passed two historic resolutions, which not only apologized for its role in past and ongoing racism against Peoples of Color (PoC) but also set forth a call for action and a plan to address the continuing harms caused by the discipline and practice of psychology against PoC. I wrote about these Resolutions in a column entitled, “APA Passes Historic Apology To People of Color.” Take a look at this column. You will find additional information about these Resolutions, teaching, and resources from Society for the Teaching of Psychology (STP) and from APA.

    Certainly, as teachers, we are intimately aware of our call to service and we daily engage in productive action through teaching, research, scholarship, and advocacy. Our work is important. Nonetheless, as I wrote, “I encourage us all to work to "decolonize" our courses, syllabi, research, etc. to make our classes and our disciplinary understanding more inclusive. Within our departments or collegial groups, we can have conversations about what we can do to learn from diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts related to the teaching of psychology and how to translate that information into our respective courses.” As noted, this column includes links to resources that you can explore related to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts of both STP and APA. Take some time to explore these teaching materials.

    Today on MLK day, I urge us all again to reflect on not just what we teach but also how we teach so as to meet the needs of students, particularly Black, Indigenous, Pacific-Islander-Asian, Latinx, and other students of color. I encourage us to work within our neighborhoods to reduce educational barriers and create more inclusive and welcoming learning environments for all within our diverse student communities. Certainly, change is never easy and there will be those who challenge efforts to be more inclusive in our courses and teaching. However, in the words of Dr. King, ““The time is always right to do what is right.”

  • 09 Jan 2022 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Linda Woolf, STP President

    I have a rescue dog, Ozzie, who came into my life not that long ago. Unfortunately, it turned out he was heartworm positive.  We caught it early, so treatment has a very high chance of success.  Nonetheless, for the past 14 weeks, Ozzie has been confined to “bed rest.”  That translates as very short walks, no steps, no jumping or running, and lots of confinement to a crate.  I bought him lots of toys and showered him with affection. He was content but seemed to carry a sadness. Well, this week, his treatment protocol and confinement came to an end.  We walked outside—no leash.  It took him a few confused moments but then he took off running and jumping around the yard. He spent his time sniffing, exploring, and chasing the birds. His experience seems an apt metaphor for the past two years. With COVID once again dominating many of our lives, how many of us not only feel confined but less content—sadness, stress, and a sense of unpredictability. We look towards the day when we can walk about through our lives and into our classrooms unencumbered.

    We have all had to change the way we teach in response to COVID. Most of us made the mad dash to a virtual classroom in 2020 and may still be teaching primarily synchronously online or in an asynchronous format.  Today, some of us may be teaching face-to-face in socially distanced settings wearing facemasks, while others may be teaching in situations with few protections. We certainly know that these unpredictable times are challenging for our students.  Much has been written for teachers to help us provide support for our students. For example, APA has put together modules, Building Student Resilience, which teachers can use at 4-8 grades and high school levels. Certainly, these materials can be used at the college level as well.  Many resources have been developed related to teaching online and under these new conditions. Indeed, Past-President Susan Nolan formed a task force aimed at Pivot Teaching last year and you can read Chair Jenel Cavazos’ update about their work in Susan’s last column. There is also a new STP eBook, which focuses on Teaching Psychology Online.

    But what about meeting the needs of teachers themselves? Any one of us who have spent any time on social media has read our colleagues’ requests for support and resources to ensure that we are all providing the best educational opportunities for our students. We care about our students and their learning. However, we have also witnessed colleagues and friends exhibit stress and pain, as they struggle with an array of situations from massive burnout to concerns about their health and safety to the loss of colleagues, students, and loved ones. What can we do to take care of ourselves?

    I’m not a clinician, so being an academic, the first thing I did was go to PsycInfo and put in the terms “teacher stress or teacher burnout” and “COVID.”  I got very few hits but was gratified to see that half of the results were dissertations. In a few years, we will have more research on this topic! Regardless, here are my thoughts based on extrapolations from materials aimed at students but also positive psychology.

    Reflection, Resilience, and Reframing: Look back over the past year and examine those moments of challenge.  Do not focus solely on where you faltered or what you should have done better—these are often my first instincts! Self-reflection is a positive strategy but not if it is drowned out by the drumbeat of self-criticism.  Frame your thinking to examine your growth as a teacher, your new coping and reliance strategies, and your myriad of successes.  Do not focus largely on the losses due to COVID, which are real, but rather, on all that has been gained. Yes, there are things I really miss about my “old teaching life” but most of it is still there. Moreover, the pandemic has really stretched my skills as an educator and I think I am a much better teacher than I was two years ago. Do your own reflection and be kind to yourself!

    Health: Negative and chronic stress has an impact on all of us physically.  Unfortunately, it is all too easy to reach for that bag of Cheetos when feeling stressed! I know that I am preaching to the informed, however, all of us may need a reminder to at times, just breathe. Take time to listen to your body, breathe, perhaps meditate, be mindful, eat a bit healthier, sleep, and exercise.  Plan time to step away from the stress by whatever way works for you whether reading, taking a walk, a hobby, pickleball, or watching British mysteries. Make a time commitment to yourself, to your health, and to your well-being.

    Gratitude: Certainly, positive psychology teaches us the value of gratitude.  Each day look for those elements in life for which you are grateful. Guy Boysen wrote a wonderful E-xcellence in Teaching post this week entitled, “Teachers’ Intense Dislike for Students.” Great discussion of a difficult topic, which we often just converse behind closed doors.  Interestingly, one of the ways I have found to cope with those students is to look for things that I do like about them even if obscure and why I am grateful that they are in my classroom. Usually if my attitude changes, they respond—even if just a little.  Of course, if one has a threatening or dangerous student, then other measures may need to be taken. Regardless, look for elements in your life for which you are grateful and nurture those elements.

    Meaningfulness:  Well-being has been linked to finding meaning in life. Many of you may find that connection through family, spiritual or cultural beliefs, or social activism. I’m sure that many of us also find meaning through our teaching and other professional activities. And, yes, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in STP!   I know, some of you may be thinking, “I’m feeling burnt out and she thinks I should add something to my schedule!??”  To which I would respond, “I get that.” Take the time to evaluate what is important to you, what brings you the most meaning, and balance your efforts. I’m reminded of the following quote by Betty White, “I’m the luckiest person in the world. My life is divided in absolute half: half animals, half show business. They’re the two things I love the most and I have to stay in show business to pay for my animal work!”  I’m sure that Ms. White had lots of demands for her time but she focused on the two things she loved most, spreading joy throughout her 99 years. Find meaning and balance.

    Use STP Resources:  You do not need to do everything yourself!  Are you taking over a class at the last minute? Did the activity you always used in the past not translate well into the online environment? Are there new topics that you really want to add to your courses based on world events or a new understanding of the discipline? We grow, we learn, but we do not need to always reinvent the wheel.  Our time is valuable, and we are part of an STP community with a wealth of resources and knowledge. For example, browse the STP website for eBooks on all sorts of topics ranging from lab projects for classes to diversity materials.  Check out Project Syllabus, Resources by Topics or Course, the various teaching blogs, and the list goes on! Of course, the STP programming is second to none and we hope that the Annual Conference on Teaching will be in person this year. Of course, you will find STP programming as part of a range of national as well international conferences—all listed on our webpage. STP is also on social media forums such as Facebook.  The Facebook page, as well as the STP listservs, PsychTeacher and Div2GSTA (graduate student), are excellent avenues for support, help, and networking. And, of course, do not forget Teaching of Psychology (ToP), our amazing journal filled with evidence-based best practices, activities, articles, and other materials. If you are not already a member of STP, supporting the work of psychology teachers at all levels, then JOIN—if for no other reason than to get ToP!

    Finally, I cannot end this first column of the year without thanking Susan Nolan and Amy Fineburg.  Amy is ending her term as Past-President and Susan is rotating into that role. Both have been instrumental in leading STP through the past two challenging years. As noted previously, Susan is leaving a legacy through the work of her various task forces. I would also add that both Susan and Amy have a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and internationalization (DEII) and that commitment is reflected in their work within STP and the discipline over the past two years. I hope to continue that work and I know whenever I have a question about what I should do, I’ll ask myself, “What would Susan or Amy do?”  I thank them for their leadership.

    In closing, I would comment that there have been times in my life when I viewed the proverbial glass as half empty; other times as half full.  During COVID, I am learning that the glass is refillable.  There are strategies that I can engage in to make me a better teacher and more accessible to my students. There are also strategies that I can use to refill my glass to avoid burnout and maintain the joy in what I do.  My pup Ozzie needed to wait till the end of his illness to run, explore, jump, and feel the joy.  We do not need to wait till the end of COVID to refuel, reignite our passion for teaching, and experience the joy!  STP is here to help and here’s to a good new year!

    P.S. Make sure you keep your dogs on heartworm prevention!

  • 06 Dec 2021 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    APA Passes Historic Apology To People of Color

    by Linda M. Woolf, STP President-Elect

    During the early days of our discipline, psychological “research,” theory, and practice was central to the eugenics movement with destructive ideological beliefs grounded in social Darwinism. Psychologists involved in this movement helped craft policies, which led to forced sterilizations of “inferiors,” immigration quotas, race laws, and charted a path to genocide supported by “research” differentiating between those of White northwest European-based stock and “primitive man.” Psychologists endeavored to reify racist and colonialist beliefs through collections of invalid data, such as intelligence measures, based on anthropomorphic measures. Sadly, these ideas are not simply obscure elements of the past but have resurfaced regularly within the history of psychology.

    In this brief article, I want to highlight the recent work of APA to address this history of harm and briefly discuss how we can use this work in our teaching of psychology. At the forefront of APA’s efforts is a historic apology of APA to Black, Indigenous, and other Peoples of Color.

    APA Resolutions

    The Council of Representatives (CoR) for the American Psychological Association (APA) met on October 29, 2021 and formally apologized for its role in past and ongoing racism against Peoples of Color (PoC). APA acknowledged that it “failed in its role leading the discipline of psychology, was complicit in contributing to systemic inequities, and hurt many through racism, racial discrimination, and denigration of communities of color, thereby falling short on its mission to benefit society and improve lives.” For many individuals, this apology was long overdue. Nonetheless, it represents a beginning; it outlines many of the historic harms, the importance of an apology, the apology, and potential next steps.

    You can read the full text of the Apology to People of Color for APA’s Role in Promoting, Perpetuating, and Failing to Challenge Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Human Hierarchy in U.S.

    This Apology Resolution does not stand alone as a finished product but rather represents a first step toward restorative justice. For example, the Resolution commits to future APA actions, which “could include targeted apologies and restorative processes for specific communities of color that extend beyond the content, format, and style of this formal Council resolution to be responsive to, and respectful of, the unique cultures and traditions of a given group, such as by the inclusion of elements respectful of the cultural traditions of Indigenous peoples."

    Additionally, the Resolution includes the following, "Therefore, be it resolved that future APA actions could also include targeted interventions to benefit other groups that have experienced systems of oppression, including those based on religion, sex, class, sexual orientation and gender diversity, and disability identity."

    As such, the Resolution acknowledges that more work needs to be done to address specific harms against the diversity of groups identified as PoC. Additionally, the Resolution recognizes that harms have occurred within psychology against other persons and peoples, which have been systematically marginalized by the discipline and profession.

    At the October meeting, CoR passed two additional anti-racism resolutions. The second Resolution outlined a commitment and steps aimed at dismantling racism within the Association, the discipline of psychology, and within the United States. The third Resolution focused on a commitment to health equity for all persons and peoples of the United States and the role psychology will play in eliminating inequities. Together, these three Resolutions signal APA's and all of psychology's commitment to human rights and social justice for all both within the U.S. and as part of APA's global mission. The Resolutions build upon a February 2021 CoR Resolution, Harnessing Psychology to Combat Racism: Adopting a Uniform Definition and Understanding. This Resolution began efforts to define and address four levels of racism—internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and structural—and how APA can work to address these harms within the Association but also in the broader society.

    It is important to note that the Association of Black Psychologists issued a response to the Apology Resolution. I urge everyone to read this letter as it highlights the pain, depth, and complexity of issues as APA begins this process.

    Teaching

    So, what does this mean for our teaching and our students? I encourage us all to work to "decolonize" our courses, syllabi, research, etc. to make our classes and our disciplinary understanding more inclusive. Within our departments or collegial groups, we can have conversations about what we can do to learn from diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts related to the teaching of psychology and how to translate that information into our respective courses.

    For more about STP’s work and DEI resources, see http://teachpsych.org and click on the Diversity tab. But don’t stop there! Throughout the website you will find eBooks, conference presentations, and a host of other resources aimed at not just creating more inclusive classrooms but integrating DEI materials into your courses. Check STP News for ongoing updates regarding the Task Force on Integration of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and International Initiatives Across STP. This DEI task force began work under the initiative of Past-President Amy Fineburg and has continued under the guidance of President Susan Nolan. These efforts will continue in 2022. The STP Diversity Committee chaired by Teceta Thomas Tormala with members, Jennifer L. Lovell, Viji Sathy, Sasha Cervantes, Leslie Berntsen, and Dina Gohar, supports and expands upon this work. You can find out more about this important committee here. at http://teachpsych.org/page-1537443. I also urge you to explore the APA Public Interest Directorate for more DEI materials for use in your courses.

    What I like in particular about any of APA’s policy resolutions is that these documents contain a fountain of information and references you can use in your courses. For example, you not only can share and discuss these anti-Racism Resolutions with your students but you also can dig deeper to explore specific elements of these Resolutions and the materials cited. You also may want to share APA President Jennifer Kelly's opening video to CoR, which highlights the anti-Racism work of APA this past year.

    I would be remiss if I did not tell you that part of the process of drafting the anti-Racism Resolutions, APA commissioned a historic review by the Cummings Center, the Psychology Archives/Museum in Akron. The Center put together a Historical Chronology examining Psychology’s Contributions to the Belief in Racial Hierarchy and Perpetuation of Inequality for People of Color in U.S. As noted in the Chronology, the document is incomplete, as the voices of oppressed victims rarely get to record their history and stories. Nonetheless, it is a concise overview not only of harms but also significant moments of DEI progress made by APA over the decades. And again, the references are a goldmine.

    Finally, as we know, psychology has a diversity problem in relation to the pipeline from high school to undergraduate programs to graduate school and beyond. What can we do to help our students see themselves as future members of the psychology workforce or as psychologists and leaders in the field? From the Resolution:

    APA will prioritize efforts in training, opening pathways, and workforce development, such as those that expand opportunities for students of color to pursue careers in psychology; promote mentorship of psychologists of color; improve psychology graduate education and training to include diverse, non-Western cultural perspectives; increase mechanisms, strategies, and practices to raise participation and success rates for psychologists of color in academia, publishing, and governmental licensing; increase representation of communities of color throughout APA’s elected and appointed leadership; expand opportunities for leadership and leadership training for psychologists of color; and enhance the visibility of psychologists of diverse backgrounds.

    The Education Directorate as well as STP have been and will continue to be involved in such efforts.

    I want to thank STP’s Council Representatives Maureen McCarthy and Jodie B. Ullman for their diligent efforts on Council. These are positions are often not visible to most STP members. Yet their work is essential for promoting educational interests within APA as well as broader policies such as these anti-Racism resolutions. Their leadership on CoR has been exemplary.

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