Monday, January 2, 2012

Looking back on 2011

Rabbit on our driveway (6/2011)

New Year's Day is traditionally a day of new beginnings.  I love new beginnings -- the excitement of starting fresh with the allure of pristine new projects.  Accomplishments are just over the horizon, glittering in the near distance.

But taking stock of where we are means pondering the past as well as looking to the future. Yet I'm less likely to mull over tasks completed than to dream of what is to come.  So I'm challenging myself to spend some time thinking back over what I've done.  Rather than compile a list of individual achievements (as in Lisa Call's 100 Accomplishments for 2011), I wanted to think about how my activities fit into my goals.  Perhaps I'm considering my cosmic footprint for 2011 (to borrow a concept from fellow blogger and academic Jill Kronstadt, whose blog is really worth reading).  So in the larger sense, what did I do in 2011?

I honored the relationships that matter to me.
I spent time with family, friends, colleagues, and students.  Family gatherings included celebrations for my sister's graduation from medical school and my father's birthday as well as various visits from immediate and extended family, some of whom I haven't seen in quite a while.  Following my grandmother's death, I helped with the arrangements, including organizing a memorial service for my maternal grandparents and was pleased that so many relatives and friends were able to attend.   
Memorial for Richard and Margaret Driessel, West Bend WI (Photo by Robert Otto)

I contributed to my communities.
I finished the new website for the Psychology Department (Rockville Campus).  I expanded and redesigned the pages to include more information about the faculty and additional resources for our students.  I also created a blog and Facebook page for the Psychology departments (of all three campuses). The CMS doesn't allow for much design creativity, but Q created terrific banners for the web page and blog and a logo for our FB page.  I'm hoping to build an online community for those interested in psychology, so I have been posting all kinds of interesting links on our FB page; the blog hasn't been as active, but I'm planning to post more often in future.  I was also a member of the search committee for a new faculty member for our department and I organized the annual Women's Studies Silent Auction to raise funds for the Women's Studies Scholarship fund. 

I'm proud to continue to be an advocate for LGBTQ issues at the college.  I helped facilitate our first Safe Zone trainings in the spring and fall semesters (a shout-out to my colleague DJ McCullough who did the lion's share of coordinating this effort), and I participated in two In Our Own Voices panels related to gender and sexual orientation.  Montgomery College held its first LGBTQ History Month in October, and I participated in (and helped organize) events for the Rockville campus, including a showing of an episode of the television show TransGeneration and a panel discussion entitled "Is Homophobia Dead?". The college released an anti-bullying statement and contributed a video to the It Gets Better project, and I was one of those included in these videos.  These are really inspiring videos, and I'm pleased that so many faculty, staff, students, and administrators participated (including one of the students from the People's Alliance, the LGBTQ student club I advise).  These efforts were featured in an article in the Metro Weekly (including a quote from me). 

Along with some of my fabulous colleagues, I was also one of the guests in the MCTV Campus Conversations episode on "Being LGBT on Campus" (our segment begins at around 10 minutes).

I learned new things. 
My single richest source of learning last year was the Smithsonian Faculty Fellowship.  Our readings and meetings with curators provided me with new insights into the challenges of designing museum exhibits and their role in public education.  I learned a great deal from my museum visits (as you can see here, here and here) and I hope to continue this as a regular practice.  Our fellowship theme of racial identity also provided much food for thought and my faculty colleagues were a fount of information and insight not only about issues of race/ethnicity, but also broader questions of pedagogy.  Beyond these museum experiences, my voracious reading habits and love of podcasts and documentary films also provided opportunities for learning.  I've learned quite a bit through my search for psychology news articles for our department's Facebook page, for example, and I saw some excellent documentaries as part of my search for relevant teaching films.  And, as always, I learn so much from my colleagues and students, as well as from teachers, friends, and family; thank you all for sharing your knowledge and insights unstintingly. 

I helped others learn and grow. 
As part of teaching my usual round of classes, I redesigned my course websites as part of our transition to the Blackboard platform and included new links and resources for learning.  I also created new assignments based in museum exhibits for two of my classes (yet more museum visits, now with students).  This semester, I participated in a Writing Fellows pilot program for one class, a joint project between Montgomery College and the Universities of Shady Grove, in which USG students were trained at writing tutors and helped MC students improve their writing.

Outside of classes, I coordinated the Psychology Brown Bag series, and our faculty led stimulating discussions about the state of psychological science, social intelligence, motivation, psychopathy, and the sexual double standard.  We also were very fortunate to have Dr. Hani Miletski as a guest speaker, discussing her experiences as a sex therapist.  We generally have 30-60 students, faculty, and staff in attendance and we all get a chance to learn something new.  I also hosted high school student interns through the Psychology Internship program (one in the spring and four in the fall) and co-coordinated the annual MC V-Day program; I really enjoy these one-on-one interactions with students because I get to see them grow and come into their own voices.  I value the learning shared among colleagues, as well, and it was a genuine pleasure to give panel presentations with my faculty colleagues (Dr. Andrea Brown and Prof. Genevieve Carminati) at two different conferences last year.  Our papers were very well-received and I think we made a great team; we learned a lot from each other and our papers complemented each other well.  In fact, it went so well that I submitted another proposal and we will be presenting together again in a few months at the Southeastern Women's Studies Association conference. 

Some of my students outside the National Portrait Gallery

I was recognized for my work and I helped recognize others' work.
As I've mentioned previously, I won a number of awards last year and was featured in articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Washington Post.  I also received recognition from the Montgomery College Board of Trustees and from the Montgomery County Council.  In short, it was a big year for honors and awards for me.  I'm pleased about that, of course, but I'm even more pleased that I was able to help in the recognition of others' achievements.  In addition to writing recommendation letters for students and faculty, I served as one of the judges for the 2011 CASE Professor of the Year awards and for the online publication of the Montgomery College Outstanding Student Writing in the Disciplines.

I tended hearth and home.
It was a big year for house projects.  In addition to my usual round of intensive gardening, we had a host of home repairs completed (trust me, the specifics would be boring) and embarked upon an unforeseen bathroom renovation (that is thankfully almost finished). We also spent quite a bit of time working on designs for the renovating rear parlor/textile studio that haven't yet been implemented. 

Jacques de Jardin, the latest addition to our garden (a gift from Q)

I created things. 
In addition to my digital creations noted above, I also made textile creations and sold them through my Etsy shop and at the Montgomery College Arts and Crafts fair.  I serged an array of linen dinner napkins and flannel burp cloths, as well as creating another fiber fantasy scarf, and I began a new series of inspirational bags that are still in progress.  On the academic side, I wrote an article entitled, "A Teaching-Centered Career for the Aspiring Intellectual" that was published in The Teaching of Psychology in Autobiography:  Perspectives from Exemplary Psychology Teachers (vol. 4), and I completed and submitted an article on guilt and shame with my colleague Dr. W. Gerrod Parrott for a special issue of Cognition and Emotion.
One side of my table at the MC Arts and Crafts Fair (12/2011)

I enjoyed myself.
There were outings to movies and shows, wherein we saw acrobats and actors, singers and dancers (including a killer bunny).  There were quiet hours spent reading or watching critters cavort outside the window.  And, of course, I enjoy most of what I do; friends, family, work, and home.  I am deeply fortunate to have a life in which purpose and pleasure are richly embedded and entwined. 

So to 2012, I say, bring it on!  I'm ready.

From the Reston Zoo (7/2011)

1 comment:

  1. I love it - what a gigantic cosmic footprint! I like how you looked at the big picture of your amazing accomplishments over the year. And thank you for plugging my blog!