Infant Mental Health II
Development in Infancy
Infant Mental Health II
CSBS Internship Program
- Utah Association for Infant Mental Health. 01/2018 - 12/2018. Position : Past President.
- Zero To Three. 11/2016 - 03/2017. Position : Member.
- Utah Association for Infant Mental Health (UAIMH). 09/2013 - 12/2017. Position : President.
- World Association for Infant Mental Health (WAIMH). 01/01/2013 - 12/31/2017. Position : Member.
Being a teacher is like being a guide on a journey of discovery: I know the terrain better than my students, but the territory is so vast and ever-changing that we can’t ever know every nook and cranny of it. I have learned a lot about infant development, normal and abnormal child development, and the science and profession of psychology. However, what keeps me going is not what I already know, but what is still unexplored. I wish to instill in my students a similar curiosity and sense of wonderment. An example: the proportion of REM sleep is higher before birth than at any other time in life. Does this mean that fetuses dream? If so, what do they dream about? What do you think?
I do want my students to learn about important discoveries that have already been made by others on this journey. I want them to know about Piaget and Vygotksy and about the benefits of play. I also want them to learn about new discoveries: the exciting new field of epigenetics, for instance, and the differential susceptibility hypothesis (aka, “The Orchid Hypothesis”). Such ideas are beginning to chart new territory in the science of psychology. We can travel to this new area, by reviewing new studies, for instance. But these new ideas and findings will also evoke more questions, more wonderment. I love to have my students discuss those questions and possible outcomes, ethical concerns, or anything else that comes into their mind. Knowledge is always co-constructed and although I serve as a guide who is more experienced and knowledgeable, all of my students have something to contribute. Together we discover new meanings, knowledge, and questions.
Teaching is also connecting: to the class, the materials to learn, the real world outside of class and one’s own self. Psychology is all about people. What could be more meaningful for students than applying theoretical concepts and research findings to their own lives? To foster a sense of connection, I love to convey my passion and enthusiasm for the field of psychology in general and for each of the classes I teach. I have found that it is easier for students to feel engaged when I am passionate about the materials. To help students make immediate connections between the materials they are learning about and their own experiences), I also use many different teaching methods. These include traditional methods (e.g., lectures, watching videos, discussions) and more innovative ones (such as relaxation/visualization exercises and asking students to write a Thought of the Week). Most of my students have extremely busy lives, combining their studies with jobs, families, and other commitments. I often begin class by having students relax in their seats, focus on their sensations and perceptions in the here and now, and connect them to the course materials for that day. I find that this mindfulness practice helps them focus and make the transition from their busy lives into this specific classroom and topic. Students often tell me that the relaxation helps them focus and relax. This way, they can be more present with the class, and they can connect better to the class and class materials.
Together, my students and I co-create meaningful learning experiences. I have met many former students who told me that they learned a lot in my classes. But each student also has something to bring to the class and to me: their own unique experiences, perspectives, emotions, and ideas. As a teacher, I never stop learning. I’m amazed by all that my students are teaching me. I am very grateful for the moments when I see their eyes light up, and especially grateful when I meet students years after I taught them, and they tell me that my teaching has made a difference in their own lives (like the student who did not like infants all that much, and sent me a picture of his newborn, years after taking my infancy class).
I’m excited for all that we will keep discovering together on this never-ending journey!