Author Archives: M

5 Ways for Teams to Build Community Outside of Meetings

Many of us have a variety of interactive team-building exercises or activities that we’ve experienced or facilitated during meetings. We also know that getting to know each other in fun and easy ways can take time—and it’s not always easy for everyone to attend the same meetings. Below are a few ideas from for engaging team members asynchronously in fun activities to get to know each other and build community.

  1. Share on a common prompt: Posting a prompt on a whiteboard, Jamboard, or on MS Teams gives people the option to weigh in on a prompt when they have time. Writing consultants recently asked each other about Myers-Briggs Personality categories, and then consultants made a chart showing the percentage of the team in each category. We’ve also had prompts for team members to post pictures of pets, share their favorite fall beverages, or weigh in on Oreo flavors.
  2. Host a taste test: Our Academic Success Center & Writing Center teams have done this a few times with foods like cupcakes and Girl Scout Cookies. You can create a plan for what to taste test, design a rubric, or post a few prompts on a shared whiteboard, Jamboard, or MS Teams. Keep in mind it can be helpful to ask about any food allergies to ensure folks are able to participate. E.g., you may want to identify vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free options.
  3. Write a story together: Set up a typewriter in a central location that all staff have access to or start a Teams thread or Canvas discussion board with an initial story prompt. Have people reply in the thread and add to the story over a week or two. Give folks a little warning near the deadline so someone can wrap up the story for the team. Once the deadline has passed, share/post the full story with the team.
  4. Create a playlist together: Have team members contribute to a playlist that captures the spirit of your team or group. You could also offer a theme as a prompt like “celebrating the end of the school year,” “songs for when there’s snow in April,” or “Sunday afternoon study jams.”
  5. Plan for friendly competition: Invite team members to sign up for competitions individually or as teams. For example, the Academic Success Center had a gingerbread house building contest, and student staff across programs signed up for days/times that worked for them. Once all the houses were built, team members and visitors to the space were able to vote and score houses based on criteria like “most delicious looking,” “most likely to survive an earthquake,” and “curb appeal.” Recently Writing Center consultants created a bracket for consultants who wanted to participate in a typing challenge, with deadlines for recording high scores from a typing speed website. Consultants advanced team members until they were left with a final round and top typing score of 134 wpm!

Have other activities that your teams have enjoyed? Leave a comment to share more ideas!

Student Staff Picks – Training Takeaways

Please visit this document for an accessible version of this article.

Student staff are at the heart of our work in the Academic Success Center & Writing Center. They engage in robust initial and ongoing training where they develop skills and strategies to support other students in their learning.

We invited student staff to share in response to the following prompt: “What is one topic or concept you learned about when training for your role at the Academic Success Center (ASC) & Writing Center that resonated for you and/or has stuck with you? Why is this topic or concept important to you, and how have you applied that learning outside of your work in the ASC and Writing Center?”

Click the image below to view full-size.

An ocean background with quotes overlaid on top

Centering Team Members’ Ideas & Perspectives

This past year, our Academic Success Center & Writing Center team has engaged in ongoing work on the Division of Student Affairs Strategic Priority. Anna shared about our team’s process for exploring equity topics in her post from Fall 2021. The past two terms, our teams have explored equity and leadership practices. Each team member explored a range of practices specific to their roles, and one that resonated for me was inviting team members’ ideas as a starting point in conversations. Across many contexts, I try to create an environment that invites collaboration. We each bring a unique history, perspective, and approach to our conversations and decision-making. This is part of what makes working in teams and collaborating so valuable. The practice I highlight here is, for me, about how we can help people feel there is space for and value in what they contribute. Across our many interactions, we can create a space that centers team members’ perspectives and ideas. In turn, this also means de-centering supervisor or leader perspective so that is not the focal point of discussion. Given the complexity of our interactions and decisions, it can take intentionality and planning to be mindful of the spaces we create in conversations.

Values of This Practice

I appreciate this strategy as it has the potential to encourage people to bring their knowledge, experience, and perspectives to bear more fully on their work. It contributes to equity by emphasizing the inherent value of each person and the importance of our relationships with each other. I also find value in pushing back on that idea that there is one “right” way to do things. Like many people, at times I come up with an idea or path forward and need to take a step back to consider the full range of possibilities. I’m personally working to attend more to how I can create the type of space that acknowledge and values each person and allows for many pathways and options to be considered. We have the potential to lose these benefits when we lose sight of the relationships we have with others and instead focus primarily on deadlines, products, or a single perspective.

As I reflected on this practice, a reading that added nuance for me was White Supremacy Culture: Still Here by Tema Okun. Okun offers that “we are at our best when we are ‘with’ others (and ourselves)” and encourages prioritizing relationships and acknowledging that we are all worthy and invaluable. In doing so, we can push back on that idea of one “right way” and instead benefit from what we experience and create when we are “with” each other. Another reading that contributed to my thinking on this practice was Critical Supervision by Gray, Johnston, and Noble (Valley Library; Publisher). They emphasize the importance of early, transparent conversations about supervisory relationships and the impact of relationships on work and growth. They advocate for “safe, shared and dialogical relationships that consider individual differences and histories” and where leaders are mindful of how ideas are presented, when and what questions are asked, and opportunities for co-creation of knowledge (159).

Strategies for Interaction

Over the past few months, I’ve considered a number of ways I can better enact this practice in my own work. Some of the strategies shared here lend themselves more to one-on-one conversations, while others might work better with a small group or larger team.

Intentional Plans for Conversations and Meetings

It can help to think in advance of conversations or meetings. Planning for conversation flow and questions can be an important part of creating intentional spaces. Here are a few prompting questions that can encourage individual or team sharing and reflection:

  • What ideas do you have?
  • What possible options have you identified?
  • Want to brainstorm some ideas together?
  • Based on your experience, what are you thinking/leaning toward?
  • What are the range of ways this [action, project, task, etc.] could be accomplished?

Mindfulness around Responding to Ideas

When people share, it can be helpful to consider a wide range of ways to respond, especially ways that keep thinking open. This can help to avoid immediately jumping to questions, offering advice, or noting additional factors to consider which might limit vs. opening the conversation. Here are a few potential responses that can support more open-ended thinking:

  • Affirming what is shared
  • Sharing areas of agreement
  • Asking open-ended, neutral questions to develop understanding
  • Paraphrasing to confirm understanding
  • Generating many ideas simultaneously

These are just a few strategies that resonated for me as I reflected on intentional conversation and decision-making spaces. And there are so many more beyond this short list! I’m still exploring strategies and would love to hear ways that you invite team members to bring their ideas, experiences, and perspectives to their work. Feel free to reply to this post or send an me email if you’d like to share.

Small Ways to Encourage & Support Students at the End of the Term

Fall term has been a lot for students to navigate. While the return to in-person learning for some students has been exciting and joyful, it’s also come with stress, overwhelm, and burnout as the term gets busier, and motivation become challenging. The last few weeks of the term are often a whirlwind of holidays; assignments; work; and moving between different spaces for travel, studying, and finals.

Instructors have likely already planned out class time for the next few weeks, and supervisors and team leads may not have a lot of space left in staff meetings either. However, these three strategies take relatively little time, and can have a big impact on students’ experience of the final weeks of the term.

Help Students Plan Post-Holiday Academics

OSU’s fall term is unique with a holiday before Week 10. The final weeks of the term go by fast, and the Week 9 break can sometimes make students feel they have more time than they do, or that they may be able to accomplish more after the break than is feasible. If students don’t look ahead, they may find themselves surprised when facing Week 10 and Finals.

If you’re an instructor, it can help to take a few minutes in class during Week 8 or 9 to look ahead with students. If you have an assignment due early Week 10, you could post a few prompts during class or on Canvas to help students consider

  • How long will this assignment take?
  • What day(s) do they hope to complete it on?
  • If these days are over the holiday/weekend…
    • What time do they want to hold for themselves?
    • What times are best for work that will make Week 10 manageable?

For those supporting students in non-class contexts, these questions work well too! Giving students space to plan intentionally can make Week 10 easier to navigate.

Prompt Backward Planning

Particularly when things get busy or feel overwhelming, students often benefit from being prompted to plan around finals.

For instructors, highlighting final due dates in class—whether that’s a final exam, project, or paper—and giving students 10 minutes to plan backwards from that date can be a big help. A calendar and a few prompts can be useful for planning:

  • What are smaller steps to accomplishing the larger task?
    • E.g., if writing a paper, when will you draft? When will you get feedback, and from whom? When will you revise?
  • If studying in advance of a final, how might you distribute your practice over time?
  • What support and resources do you have? When will you reach out to them?

In non-class contexts supervising student staff or advising, giving students space to do that same kind of planning can also be helpful. Beyond finals-related questions, you might also prompt students to consider

  • How do work hours intersect with studying or finals? Would any adjustments to schedule be needed or helpful?
  • What other routine or non-routine events are important to include on your calendar these next three weeks?

The Academic Success Center’s Final Survival Guide has a variety of tools and strategies for planning the end of the term and maintaining well-being. It also includes a small and large calendar you could share with students.

Encourage Self-Care

As the term gets hectic, reminding students of the importance of self-care helps students attend to their well-being in addition to the variety of commitments they’re balancing within and outside of academics.  Here are a few ways you can encourage self-care:

  • Share the DAM Good Self-Care Packet, and create space for students to identify strategies or fill out page 4’s Plan for Self-Care. A few minutes in class, in a staff meeting, or during a conversation can remind students how important their well-being is.
  • Encourage breaks. Nearing finals, students often have longer study sessions and may benefit from considering
    • How long can you maintain focus before losing attention or energy?
    • How long will your breaks be? And with what frequency?
    • What will you do during breaks?
    • How will you get back on track after a longer break?
  • Make space for students to share self-care strategies. Sometimes hearing from other students and from you about approaches to self-care and managing stress can give students a range of strategies and normalize self-care as a part of overall well-being and academic success.

I hope some of these ideas are helpful as you think about supporting students at the end of fall term. If you have additional ideas or strategies you use, please share them in the comments!

What Are OSU Colleagues Reading?

As we head into the last few weeks of the term, we wanted to share what some of our colleagues from around campus are reading. Perhaps one of these will spark your interest or get added to your To Be Read list over winter break.

We asked colleagues, “What have you read that has informed your work or resonated for you, and why? This can be reading in any form (e.g., books, articles, videos, podcasts, audiobooks, etc.).”

Dan Larson, Vice Provost for Student Affairs

TThe cover of the book The Sum of Us by Heather McGheehe Sum of Us:  What Racism Costs Everyone and How we can Prosper Together, by Heather McGhee.

While I am not yet finished with the book, I am finding the information and analysis to be helpful in understanding systems and how they perpetuate social and racial disparity.

The cover of the book How College Works by Daniel F. Chambliss and Christopher G. Takacs

How College Works by Daniel F. Chambliss and Christopher G. Takacs. This book provides an analysis of what about the college experience produces student success.  It’s a Student Affairs anthem!

Scott Vignos, Interim Vice President and Chief Diversity Office, Office of Institutional Diversity

NPR logo with a black background, ring of circles, and the word throughline in the middleI am a huge fan of the podcast “Throughline” from National Public Radio. Hosted by Ramtin Arablouei and Rund Abdelfatah, Throughline dives deep to illuminate connections between historical events and contemporary issues. I particularly love the episodes on voting rights in the United States, and James Baldwin’s enduring influence.

Sarah Tinker Perrault, WIC Director & Associate Professor, WIC & School of Writing Literature, & Film

For my research, I’ve been reading about bibliometrics, that is, statistical methods of measuring scholarly output and impact. Two articles offer a good introduction to how bibliometrics affect scholars’ working conditions and work: “The Leiden Manifesto for Research Metrics” and the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment. These and other articles are informing the book I’m writing on rhetorical approaches to teaching science writing. To teach rhetorically, we need to convey the complex contextual factors that affect writers’ decisions; therefore, the book will help writing studies and science faculty understand how factors like bibliometrics shape scientific genre ecologies.

Daniel López-Cevallos, Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education & Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies, Academic Affairs

Book cover of Relationship Rich Education by Peter Felten and Leo Lambert with people connected by intersecting linesThis fall, my undergraduate research team (URSA, STEM Leaders) and I are reading the book “Relationship-Rich Education: How Human Connections Drive Success in College” by Peter Felten and Leo Lambert of Elon University. The book argues for the importance of centering human connections/relationships towards a transformative undergraduate educational experience; and propose four principles for advancing relationship-based learning: 1) Every student must experience genuine welcome and deep care; 2) Every student must be inspired to learn; 3) Every student must develop a web of significant relationships; and 4) Every student must explore questions of meaning and purpose.

Remote End-of-Year Celebrations

It’s that time of year! Many of us are planning end-of-year celebrations and activities to recognize our student staff and graduating seniors. Now is a great time to get creative and find fun ways for our teams to connect, say thank you, and celebrate together.

Here are five ideas for how to celebrate remotely:

  1. Online games. Websites like allow users to create game rooms where folks can log on without an account to play. Within each game, people can choose to use video/audio or the chat.
  2. Videos. Create a video where team members can all contribute a picture, brief message, or thanks. Try out lipsync-ing to a celebratory tune.
  3. Gift packages. There’s something nice about getting mail and knowing someone was thinking of you. Packages could include things like a thank you card, snacks (be sure to check for allergens before sending), or useful gifts. Small gifts might include things like blue-light blocking glasses, miniature tools, magnet picture frames, origami books with encouraging notes, or mugs.
  4. Zoom games. You can make your own MadLibs with stories themed to your work. Or consider creating a quiz for your team featuring lesser-known facts about colleagues. For some friendly competition, have your team break into groups for some Jeopardy! You can even have folks vote on topics in advance. My vote: Star Trek the Next Generation plotlines.
  5. Customized cards. Use an online design platform like Canva or Kudoboard to create customized cards for graduating seniors. Each team member then has a chance to add to the message with their own drag-and-drop design elements.

Student Affairs Staff Picks

In this issue, we’re delighted to share perspectives from our Student Affairs Colleagues who responded to the prompting question: “What have you read that has informed your work or resonated for you, and why?”

JP Peters – Associate Director, Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life

CurrePicture of the Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencionintly, I am reading The Ideal Team Player, by Patrick Lencioni, and he highlights the three essential virtues to be the ideal team player. You must be humble, hungry, and smart when working with a team or leading a group of people. For the last two months, I have strived to incorporate this philosophy into the work I do with my colleagues and students. It is too early to determine if the philosophy is beneficial, but I am excited to engage in finding out the results.

Earlee Kerekes-Mishra – Assistant Director, Disability Access Services

I have recently started reading more and more about the #SayTheWord movement started by Lawrence Carter-Long. Carter-Long started this in response Picture of an orange wall with an orange speaker shaped like a megaphone attached to itto the erasure of identity for disabled people. This movement is reclaiming that identity, by reclaiming the word “disability” and also educating why other words such as “differently abled” or “handicapable” are harmful. I am a firm believer that language is impactful; the words we choose sometimes speak louder than the message being conveyed, and the article “Say the Word,” by Anjali Forber-Pratt (along with other disability identity research), has assisted me in being more mindful with my choice of words overall.

Ben Medeiros – Assistant Director, UHDS – Residential Education

Picture of the sky, mountains, and a body of water with the title "Maslow's Hierachy connected to Blackfoot Beliefs" across the visualThere’s a blog post circulating about Maslow’s misappropriation of Blackfoot teaching.  I also attended a conference session recently about indigenous assessment strategies, including LaFever’s Medicine Wheel, a more holistic learning outcomes model than Bloom’s taxonomy.  Both sources disappointingly affirm the foundations of our educational system have been intentionally encoded to remove indigenous ways of knowing and being.  Which begs a question of personal and institutional action… what will I do to center the voices of students of color and other marginalized populations – from the learning processes that I direct to the hiring decisions we make at every level of our institution?

Jen Humphreys – Operations Associate, Student Affairs

SA Voices from the Field is a NASPA podcast hosted by Dr. Jill Creighton. My role does not include working in a Picture of the letters "SA" in blue at an angle. Surrounding the picture are black and white photographs of four individuals wearing headphonesspecific functional area within Student Affairs, so resources such as this help me to stay connected to the work that our division members are engaging with daily. Topics include such things as leading a residence hall during COVID, dismantling systemic racism in student affairs, and the future of grad prep programs.

The cover of the book "So You Want to Talk about Race" by Ijeoma OluoSo You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo is a very accessible book that has helped me focus on action over angst. In other words, moving from analysis paralysis and seeking opportunities to not only talk about race and systemic oppression, but to be attuned to the ways that I benefit from it, doing this from a place of inquiry to better support students and Colleagues of Color at OSU. The book is written in a very straightforward way, and I appreciated that Oluo brings her own family experiences and identity into her writing. She speaks to the dynamics of being biracial and provides you with a sense of what it’s like to navigate both black and white spaces—just as many of our students do.

Jeff Malone – Director, Cross Campus Strategic Initiatives

Music Theory & White Supremacy (or “The Harmonic Style of 18thA picture of a Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Century European Musicians” & White Supremacy) by Adam Neely is a video on music theory (yes, music theory). It is lengthy (~45 minutes) but interesting and impactful. I do not feel one has to have a grounding in music theory (my own is shaky at best) for resonance. This video illustrates how systems of whiteness are so often privileged in our academic disciplines and educational habits/practices. This content is helpful as I consider, and reconsider, previously accepted policies, practices, and ways of knowing.

Student Staff Picks: Hearing from Graduating Seniors

The Academic Success Center and Writing Center employs over 60 students in peer education roles. Student staff are at the heart of our work supporting OSU students, and we are excited to feature quotes from graduating seniors in this issue’s Student Staff Picks.

We invited graduating seniors to share in response to this prompt: “What is one thing you’ve learned from your experience working at the Academic Success Center or Writing Center?”

For a PDF of this visual’s text, please click here.

Photograph of a mountain with text boxes containing quotes from ASC & Writing Center graduating seniorsCenter and Writing Center

Staff Picks: Technology Tips

Working remotely, our team is often share technology tips, tricks, and shortcuts with each other. Sometimes these are found through careful research when “there must be a faster way…” Other times, we find these gems completely by accident. Here, we offer up some of our favorites—both old friends and recent discoveries.


With two screens and a lot of open tabs and windows, I’m often trying to stay organized and find what I’m working on during a conversation (particularly when sharing my screen!). I’ve been improving my use of the Windows + keyboard shortcuts. There are a range of these described on this webpage, but I’ll recommend my two favorites: Windows+P which allows you to change your display/presentation mode quickly without going into settings and Windows+Left arrow or right arrow to use the “side-by-side docking” options for two different windows.


I love shortcuts! Here are a few of my favorites and/or most-used shortcuts.

  • Ctrl+L: Locking the screen. Be the shield!
  • Ctrl+D: Accessing my desktop.
  • Shift+F3: Selecting text, then using this shortcut to switch between lower case, UPPER CASE, and Title Case.
  • Ctrl+Shift+F9: Selecting text, then using this shortcut to remove hyperlinks


I often use several programs at once, so I love using the Alt+Tab shortcut (Command + Tab on Mac) to quickly toggle between windows. To use this shortcut, hold Alt continuously while pressing Tab until the window you want is outlined. Then simply release the keys to access that window. You can also use Alt+Tab to quickly close multiple windows, which is what I do to maintain a decluttered workspace and stay organized.

Chris G.

My unsung tech hero is Ctrl+F. Many of us have used it in word processing to find specific words, which often moves us to the chapter/section we are looking for, but this shortcut also works for more common situations like internet browsing, .pdfs, and even entire e-books! (though Acrobat reader still has some difficulty at times). Paired with excel, Ctrl+F helps me easily navigate between spreadsheets and workbooks. Now if I could only Ctrl+F for my keys and wallet… and sometimes my shoes.


I don’t feel particularly tech savvy, but I used to get a lot of NAs when I used VLOOKUP and have been able to solve that problem by applying F4 after I’ve selected my table array; this makes it so that the column and the row reference can’t change. Very satisfying. I’ve also been using the TRIM option to help convert ONIDs to IDs in Core; first, in Excel, I apply the TRIM formula to remove any extra spaces; then, in CORE, I receive a more complete list of IDs.

Voyages of the Soul

While perhaps slightly hyperbolic, I’m forging ahead with this title, courtesy of the Random Title Generator. This after a lengthy brainstorming session via Teams and mulling over a number of compelling options from the generator. Clare didn’t feel that “Wizard of History” was a fair representation of what I’d written, and I felt that “Eye of Thoughts” was too Mordor. So here we are with “Voyages of the Soul.”

The new year always seems like a time for reflection on the past year, though reflection right now feels challenging. While I am not offering a reflective deep dive that encompasses all the learning and thinking I’ve done this past year, I would like to share a few things that have helped me navigate working remotely the past 10 months and that I hope to continue moving forward post-COVID/remote work.

Flexibility (no crisis required). Flexibility shouldn’t require a crisis. While I usually try to have flexibility in classes I teach, I’ve been more intentional this past year—requiring fewer assignments, offering options for engagement, grading complete/incomplete. Students often believe that any request for flexibility is a big ask—even when they’re dealing with the unimaginable. From the instructor side of thing, the ask is often small and easily accomplished. I hold onto the idea that students shouldn’t have to ask. If I can build in flexibility from the onset, I can establish it as a norm rather than an exception.

Less urgency. So often everything feels urgent. Emails, asks, the 10-week term. And while some things are urgent, many things don’t need to be. I’m trying to push back on that culture of urgency, become more aware of its relationship to power, and be mindful of how I contribute to this culture. The more I look, the more opportunities I find to be slow down, create boundaries, and make space for myself and for others to work in more manageable ways.

Music. And dancing. As I write this, I’m at a standing desk with wireless headphones, dancing. Many afternoons this past year have been improved through music and dancing. I’ve been fortunate to work from home, and that set-up process challenged me to think about workspace in a new way—to imagine what it could be. Now, this whole set-up may have to come back to campus with me. Waldo Hall dance party.

Time between meetings. While it’s now possible to transition between meetings with a few mouse clicks, back-to-back-to-back meetings are not good for us. Days with 5 or 6 meetings in a row, constantly on screen, are exhausting. I imagine this is equally hard on students in remote classes. I’m trying to be mindful of the meetings I’m leading, time needed, and how I can encourage people to engage in ways that work for them. Sometimes brief audio calls or Teams messages are enough. When an hour is scheduled, I’m working to end meetings at :50 and keep transition time between conversations.

Community. In November, I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). To achieve that goal, I needed to write every day. Knowing Clare was also committed to daily writing provided solidarity. Evening writing sprints on Discord connected me with others in the same process. And Sarah’s check-ins, excitement for the project, responsiveness to random writing questions, and encouragement were so helpful. As I plan for future projects and as I support others in their planning, I’ll be looking for more connection points and ways we can create a stronger community of support and encouragement along the way.

These are just a few of my reflection points, but I’ll be adding to my list in the coming months. I’d also love to hear from you if you’d like to share! What have you learned about your work? Or about supporting students? What are you holding onto moving forward? Feel free to email me a short description that we could include in a spring issue of The Success Kitchen.