As of last night, I have completed draft 1 of Cozby and Rawn (2013), Methods in Behavioural Research, First Canadian Edition! My stomach did a somersault when I hit “save” on that last chapter. Excited and relieved to be done; nervous of what other instructors and students will think of it. I did my best work on every chapter, but of course it’s never going to be perfect (where’s the fun in that?).
I never expected to be writing a textbook at this stage in my career (i.e., early!). Then I got the opportunity to take an existing textbook that I had been using for a few years and update/adapt it for a Canadian audience. It took a long time for me to decide to do it–it’s so much work!–but I immediately knew that I would ultimately agree. See, here’s the thing about me: I have built my life by jumping on opportunities that have passed my way, and then carving my own opportunities to grow, which has led to more and more opportunities. I had to. I was raised by a very large, very loving extended family, and for them I am grateful. But I don’t come from money or big connections or a tradition of higher education (let alone post-grad). I was once a kid with modest dreams and a mountain of people who cared for me. My earliest teachers offered enrichment and suggested extra-curricular activities. I jumped on every chance I had to do more, learn more, grow more. As I did, my circle grew too. Fifteen years ago I could never have imagined I would be here, writing a textbook and teaching psychology at a world-class university in a world-class city 4000km away from what I used to call home.
But opportunity means risk. Taking a leap into uncharted waters is not for the faint of heart. Heading off to undergrad a mere half hour from home felt devastating at the time, but I knew I had to do it. It was the next opportunity. Then four years later, with a well-developed independence in tow, I moved across the country. In many ways it wasn’t as difficult that time. I didn’t end up with the same set of opportunities here that I initially expected, but I worked hard, seized the opportunities I found, and created more.
So if you’re about to start your time at UBC — or start a new year here or anywhere — I encourage you to figure out what opportunities you want, and go find them. Don’t be afraid to jump on them when you do. Or if you are afraid, but you know it’s probably best for you in the long run, take a deep breath and do it anyway.
A year ago I was — decidedly — not a runner. I was a walker. I had walked an entire marathon in fact (2008 BMO Vancouver Marathon with Team in Training). But, I had taken a year off of taking care of myself after burying myself in my new job, and I knew something had to change. AND we had just bought a condo with a gym right downstairs from us, so there was no excuse. With the co-commitment of my husband and our good friend Lesley, I started walking again. Then something weird happened. One day on the treadmill I felt like running. So I did. It was only for a couple of minutes that first day, but I didn’t die! I was ok! It actually felt good!
Fast forward a year, and along with some sage advice from the amazing instructor and personal trainer Andrea Perrino, as well as a lot of sweat along the way, Lesley, our friend Lara Aknin, & I ran the full 10k of the Sun Run today! We *ran* it! The whole time! I can hardly believe it! It was the longest distance I had ever run without stopping, and we completed it in 1:01:41. We had a hunch we might do it in an hour, but we didn’t have a watch among us so we weren’t sure. But we did it! Well, just about… and now we have our next goal: to complete in under an hour!
It feels great to complete this accomplishment and to own this new identity as a runner. This school year I feel like I have really been putting into practice what I teach so often: take care of your physical & mental health, take breaks from work, cultivate social connections, set SMARTER goals, and implementation intentions to acheive them. I’m looking forward to keeping up my progress this summer as I write my textbook and prepare for next year’s adventures. Look for me next year teaching Psyc 100 (6 credits), Psyc 217 (research methods), Psyc 218 (stats), and my custom course Psyc 208: Psychology in your life: How social psychology can help you succeed).
2009 is rapidly approaching completion… and I must say I’m quite ok with that! A year ago I didn’t have a dissertation written, was headed to an ill-timed teaching conference (NITOP, in Florida), and was anxiously preparing to interview for the Instructor-1 position I now hold. This has been a whirlwind year: I got the job (yay!), defended my dissertation, bought a condo with my husband, and spent four frantic yet satisfying months teaching in my first semester as tenure-track faculty at UBC. Amid all the craziness and exhaustion, I was thrilled (and relieved) to feel a sense of contentment with what I was doing. Teaching six times a week was a harried schedule, and many times I didn’t know how I could make it. But at the end of the day I was happy I was teaching. If I can go through all that in one semester and still love teaching, then this must be the perfect career for me!
As I head in to the new year, I’m feeling a typical mix of emotions. I’m eager and nervous to meet my new students next week; I’m nervous my syllabi won’t be copied on time (I couldn’t submit them until yesterday — yikes!); I’m hopeful that my schedule will be at least a little less hectic than last term. More than anything, I’m looking forward to being back in the classroom, starting fresh on another adventure, ready to learn as much to teach, and to strive each day to create opportunities for students to learn (if they so choose).
Ahh! How is it the end of July already?! It feels like this summer has been completely packed full of things to do — and not relaxing things, either! Yet my to-do list seems just as long as it was a month ago! I’m feeling a bit disoriented as I transition to our new neighborhood at home and my new position as faculty at work. It kinda feels like my whole life right now is a meaning maintenance prime. Everything is the same but everything is different, and those differences are often subtle. The heat isn’t helping either.
When I feel this way I know that I need to spend some time goal setting and prioritizing. When I have a concrete plan of what needs to get done, and what order I’ll do it in, I feel much better about the whole situation. So that’s what I’ll do right now. Even as I write that I know I should be writing that chapter. But I find it difficult to work on something specific when I don’t feel ok about the whole. So goal setting it is.
As we look at homes to purchase and work on contracts for offers, I’ve been acutely aware of how much I don’t know about realty and gigantic purchases. It seems there are a million variables to consider, all the while watching guard for being ripped off and trying to snag as good a deal as possible. Throughout the process we have been guided by the enormously helpful advice and expertise of our realtor. He has been there to help us through this immense decision. To give us options we may not have otherwise explored. To notice potential problems. To think about contract clauses and write them in legal prose. It has been tremendously reassuring to have him there. But I also feel a bit vulnerable. I am aware that he has the power to mislead and misinform us, either unintentionally or intentionally. It’s not that I’m suspicious, but I am not naive.
In all novice-expert combinations, novices are in a vulnerable place. My experiences over the past week have reminded me of the critical element of trust between teacher and student. It is my responsibility, as a teacher, to provide complete and accurate information to the best of my ability. It may be worth thoughtfully approaching how to developing trust with my students, trust that I’ll help them to learn content, but especially to think for themselves. I’ve always felt that way (indeed, it’s my professional ethical responsibility), but I’m especially reminded this week.