Society for the Teaching of Psychology: Division 2 of the American Psychological Association

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Welcome from STP President Loretta McGregor

Being a Flexible Planner

Loretta N. McGregor,
STP President

April 12, 2024

I am a planner! And as a dedicated planner, I've already begun preparing for the next semester, even though the current one is still in full swing. Nevertheless, recent events reminded me of the need for flexibility in the classroom and in life.

Each spring, the STP Executive Committee members conduct an in-person business meeting. These meetings typically involve three days of intensive planning for the future of the Society. This year’s meeting occurred in Memphis, TN, April 4-7. After selecting the date and scheduling the venue, I discovered the meeting would coincide with the 56th commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life, sponsored by the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel. Several of us arrived early on the first meeting day and were able to attend the commemorative event. The ceremony featured exquisite music by a local university gospel choir, poetic readings by high school students, and presentations by local dignitaries and members of Dr. King’s immediate family. Touring the museum and reflecting on Dr. King’s life of service and sacrifice for others set a positive tone for the balance of our meeting. I am pleased that some committee members were flexible in travel, allowing us to participate in and witness this historical event together.

As a self-proclaimed planner, I have often followed the advice of Marilla Svinicki and Bill McKeachie (2011), who wisely wrote, “…spend a little time on your [course] plans each day…let them percolate in your mind, [and] ideas will come to you while driving, jogging, or walking into your office,” (p. 18). But I have been teaching long enough to realize that some of the best class lectures or activities were the ones I did not plan. Ideas or activities have organically arisen mid-semester and I have followed some of them to fruition. These diversions in my teaching plans have often paid big dividends. I have learned that allowing flexibility in my schedule can enrich my teaching experience and greatly benefit my students.

My recommendation to you is to embrace both approaches to teaching. Plan your lectures and activities for the entire semester but reserve the right to change directions if you can or feel the need to do so. Planning and spontaneity in teaching are not the antithesis of each other. They can co-exist and often result in an enriching experience for students and the instructor alike.


Svinicki, M. & McKeachie, W. J. (2011). McKeachie’s teaching tips: strategies, research, and theory for collect and university teachers (13th Ed.). Wadsworth, Belmont, CA.

    To read past letters from the STP President, click here.

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