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Instructional Support Division Team Newsletter: May 1

Staying Connected as a Team Through Covid-19


Shout Outs to the Team

Kudos from KaleighYou know the difference between Instructional Support and everyone else? We make it look good!

Tutors: We’re getting great feedback regarding the work that the tutors are doing despite the ever-shifting landscape between WC-Online and Tutor Match. Kudos to all of our tutors (I would list you all here by name but this would turn into even more of a book!) for making us one of the few campuses fully functional in Learning Support. 
Charlotte and Amanda are handling an extra layer of complication working through system office plans and I’m proud to say that Kingwood has a strong voice through Charlotte’s representation (which could only happen with Amanda leaping in and supporting the day-to-day operations). Fantastic job! 
• I’m being told that our students and faculty are relieved that students can get (a version) of the same library services they would have gotten in the Learning Commons. Kudos to our PT Reference Librarians and Anne for keeping things up and running for our online students with little to no disruption. I know that both are working away at special projects designed to help our students through this difficult time. Keep up the great work!
• D2L assistance is up and running in WC Online thanks to Allison and our PT Specialist III’s. Way to go team! This is another area where we are leading the pack. 
Mikha and Hope are keeping themselves incredibly busy not just working on all of the normal services (guides, collection development, etc.) but also focusing on OER textbook alternatives, other free e-resources, videos for online courses, open house initiatives, and brainstorming ways to improve research skills in online courses. I’ve also pulled Mikha on to several time-sensitive tasks and she’s been assisting me in compiling and sending out vital information to faculty about online teaching. The hustle is real – thank you ladies! 
Nancy is distributing emails, organizing book studies, setting up fall PD, and generally doing a fantastic job keeping staff PD alive while also helping to track online certification numbers. She’s been pivotal in helping to keep us in compliance with system guidelines. 
• Sympathies and kudos to Jennifer as she diligently works on straightening out faculty travel, speaker cancellations and refunds, and the FY21 budget (yep, it’s that time and they aren’t allowing any delays).

Kudos from Allison

Kudos to Cassie, Erika, Inshan, and Katrina for learning how to use WC Online and how to make it work for Online Assistance in a short period of time. Online Assistance is a new service the Learning Commons is offering where students can make appointments through WC online to get help with D2L and Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. We went live on Tuesday, April 14. Thank you Charlotte and Amanda for the assistance you gave helping us to learn WC Online. 

Kudos to Kaleigh for the assistance you are giving the faculty in converting their classes online. 

Kudos to Mikha for the improvements to the Kingwood library webpage. 

Kudos to Anne for pursuing a solution for giving students online barcodes.

What projects are you working on?

The main items I’m working on (among other tasks and involvement with the various IS services):

  • holding daily WebEx meetings for faculty to receive help with their online courses,
  • working one-on-one by appointment with faculty,
  • serving on a system-wide committee to create an “online campus” that will moderate-quality & consistency in online courses,
  • nightly meetings with our VPI and deans,
  • compiling/creating resources for faculty.
Work: Daily, I am issuing online barcodes and troubleshooting problems via emails, but mainly I am learning new technology while building a Circulating training course in D2L. I am also attending a lot of webinars and Webex meetings for Professional Development.
Outside of Work: I am helping Katie make masks with leftover material from other projects: Harry Potter, Marvel comics, Houston Astros, LSU themed as well as generic-looking masks created using the New York time's mask version. (Our masks use ties rather than elastic.) There is always a cat willing to "help." Since my husband has to work, we are ensuring that the other workers around him at United Airlines have masks as well as our neighbors. I am also helping Katie paint her game room with a Mario theme and at night, I play Nintendo's "Animal Crossing."
Who are sharing your space with while practicing Social Distance? My husband is working at United Airlines, so that's a bit of a problem. My daughter, Katie, is in the room next to me doing Ref. Librarian work. My office buddies that go back and forth between Katie and me are cats named Freya, Roman, and OMalley.
I miss going to work and feeling like I have a purpose outside of my family! Hope everyone is doing well and staying safe!!
Outside of work: I have been trying a lot of crafty things, like epoxy/resin tumblers. I got out Grandma's sewing machine and looked up the instruction manual online. I can now "sew"....notice the quotation marks on that one, I'm definitely a beginner!! Playing cards with the kids and going on bike rides, attempted to paint the bathroom....still a work in progress.

As many of you know, I am a caregiver for 2 family members that are in the “increased risk” category for poorer COVID outcomes. So we have been extra vigilant with sanitizing, social distancing, and with an added measure of social media distancing.

We have also been:

  • very thankful for those childhood games we used to play of “keep away” and “cooties”. Those skills are really paying off now! (haha)
  • sporting the latest in COVID fashions, bleach striped and splashed clothing.
  • relearning and refining cooking from scratch.
  • modeling grandmas quilt scrap sewn face masks. We never have looked so colorful!
  • trying not to laugh when a family member does a victory dance after a successful hunt at the grocery store.
  • taking “Reduce/Reuse/Recycle” to new levels.
  • taking care of the Victory garden we planted. We will soon be swimming in zucchini, basil, tomatoes and bell peppers!
  • trying to avoid the COVID-15lbs and “seefood” diet. ” Wow, that old box of cereal we have been avoiding is not that bad!” “Don’t you think we should use some of this stash for Red Beans and Rice?” “I’m bored, lets go stare at what’s in the pantry or refrigerator, maybe we can make something.”

On a more personal note, I have also been:

  • enjoying video watching with friends far and near thru DISCORD. We really enjoy commenting on what we are watching together.
  • having fun and making progress using my trendy “habit tracker” journal. I highly recommend them. Great for staying on tasks during this unstructured time.
  • working on the somewhat new Switch video game/exercise combo game “Ring Fit”. While it seems a bit rudimentary, it is an advancement over Wifit, and it is fun and effective.
  • using the time to “treasure hunt” and sort thru the junk drawers. I haven't made as much progress as I imagined, but it is still progress!
  • giving the dog lots of extra love.
  • watching the eastern cottontail rabbit that has made a nest in our backyard and had baby bunnies. They are so cute! They are fully furred and about the size of a closed fist now. Word must be out that our dog is a safe bet (and she is, she knows what “NO BUNNY CHASING” means). The bunny watches us from her grass nibbling spot and even calmly perks her ears up when we say “Hello!” on our way out of the backyard.
  • taking virtual YouTube rides on Disney and Universal attractions. We ham it up and squeal and lean into the roller coaster curves.

Hope you and yours are finding new routines and treasures during this time of adjustment!

The silver lining to our working from home is having the time to learn new programs and refresh our memory on others. It's been two years since I learned D2L so I renewed my Online Teaching Certification. Turns out that was a good thing since the Spec III's and I are now set up on WC Online to take student appointments for Online Assistance. I'm learning Tech Relay and currently working on a video, "How do I Apply for a Library BarCode". Making a video is much harder than you think! I learned I'm not good at speaking off the cuff and do better when I prepare a script. I could envision the movie clapper after each attempt - Take 1, clap; Take 2, clap;......Take ?, clap. Learning how to use Webex was a joy! It is great to see everyone's face and to be able to converse. Many meetings have taken place via Webex. A couple of meetings were with employees from Choice. Jennifer, Anne, Mikha, and I are working with Choice to create a podcast [Patron Driven] on our Harvey experience. The podcast will be in 5 parts and will be released in June. We've heard the trailer and it is awesome!

Stay safe and healthy,

I’m keeping my brain busy by:

  • Monitoring faculty online certification stats daily.
  • Arranging a couple of book studies, helping with the WebEx on one, and working on getting free books for another.
  • Finishing up all the details and organization from spring semester after having a busier-than-usual January and February.
  • Answering lots of email questions, etc.
  • Beginning to organize and purge paperwork, etc. I brought all that home with me just in case I had time. This is a long-term project, for sure!

In my off time, I’m:

  • Sorting through and scanning old family photos with the goal of eventually making a series of Shutterfly books. At the rate I’m going, this will take a year!
  • Reading lots of news articles (one of my hobbies!) and currently “The Virgin Suicides” (I’m working through all of Jeffrey Eugenides’ books).
  • Doing lots more cooking than usual.
  • Working my way through Gilmore Girls again – one of my all-time favorite shows.

Things I’m currently working on:

  • Responding daily to student emails about tutoring
  • Updating student documents and our website
  • WCOnline maintenance as needed

During my free time:

  • Playing lots of Animal Crossing
  • Watching movies/tv shows – My most recent watch was the Netflix miniseries, Waco. It’s about the tragic event that took place in Waco, TX with the Branch Davidians. I recommend the watch if anyone is interested.

Room 101

In our weekly meetings, someone might mention a pandemic-induced pet peeve. As we laughed about these quirks, Kaleigh joked that we needed to put it in the room, a nod to George Orwell's 1984 torture room. So we decided that we needed to put these "worst things in the world" into the room and leave it there.

What would you put in the room?

  • Previous holiday candy
  • Whistlers
  • Knee jiggling
  • The sound of a basketball hitting concrete,
  • Celebrities
  • TLC
  • Endless channel or trailer surfing
  • Un-muted WebEx attendees with lots of background noise
  • Leaf blowers
  • Stress eating

Recommended Movies & Shows

What are you watching these days? Share with us anything that you recommend.

  • Devs (Hulu)
  • Dead to Me (Netflix)
  • Troop Zero (Amazon)
  • Godless (Netflix)
  • Parks & Rec (Netflix)
  • Outlander (Netflix, Starz -latest episodes)
  • Sense and Sensibility (BBC, Hulu)
  • Tales from the Loop (Amazon)
  • Bosch (Amazon)
  • Hilda (Netflix)
  • Call the Midwife (PBS, Netflix, Amazon)
  • World on Fire (PBS)
  • Gilmore Girls (Netflix)
  • Dawson's Creek (Hulu)
  • The Zoo (Xfinity/Animal Planet, Streaming)

Next Newsletter

Next newsletter topics:

  • What are you reading right now?
  • What is part of your new routine?
  • What are you cooking? Share a recipe.
  • Share with us a picture, include a caption.
  • Tell us a joke.
  • Other news or topics that you wish to talk about.

We want to hear from you! If you want to answer any of the questions, please fill out this survey. 

Any photos or documents (recipes), email Mikha. Include a small description to go with it. Note: Images will be cropped for consistency on the page.

Submissions accepted until May 14 at 4:00 p.m.

What does your office/work space look like?

"I’m sharing space with some far-less motivated coworkers these days….  " (Bishop) - Kaleigh



"My front patio is very peaceful, so while drinking coffee, I use it as my morning workspace. The fence is a recent addition that my sweet boyfriend built for me, and it has successfully kept out the wandering dogs, curious cats, and rogue squirrels from the greenbelt." - Hope

"Wearing face masks to Lowe's." -Allison




"My new coworkers are very demanding….about everything…exercising, belly rubs, and naps!" (Bentley) - Jennifer 



Jimmi's granddaughter playing with Lego.



"This is Molly's (dog pictured on the left) room that I've taken over as an office. I can't wait for my new office furniture to arrive. My body will thank me." -Mikha


"I’ve noticed there’s a squirrel that appears daily in my back yard and just rests flat on my fence for long periods of time. Living his best life, I guess." -Kaleigh


"My work station has moved many times.  Right now, I am set up in my living room, depending on my husband’s work schedule.  (Being home after he works night at the chemical plant is misery!  When am I quiet?)" - Jennifer

"This floof is Winston. He likes to steal your seat if you get up." -Amanda


Mischievous wall art using markers and eye shadow. -Jimmi



Painting ​Mario themed game room. - Anne


"Having Mio steal my chair when I get up." -Allison



"My new coworkers are very demanding….about everything…exercising, belly rubs, and naps!" (Left to right: Olive and Bentley) - Jennifer

Jimmi's coworker, her four-year-old granddaughter Laney, practicing social distancing.

"My new coworkers are very demanding….about everything…exercising, belly rubs, and naps!" (Olive) - Jennifer

["My office is] a built-in desk that we remodeled, with a slide-out keyboard tray.  The drawers have boards on top for use as desk-top space.  There's a cozy cave underneath for the dog, who likes to be at my feet.  It works well except for when Brad wants to get into the kitchen.  (Taking the picture required me to clean up the clutter, something that's been needed for a long time.)" -Sue

"This is Leia. She often jumps on my laptop if I don’t give her the attention she demands." -Amanda




Katrina's boys.





"Sharing my makeshift office with Mazee and Scout." -Allison



"My coworkers are pretty chill." (Top to bottom: Molly, Rosemary, and Mikha) - Mikha


Anne's workspace complete with a long sword in case this turns into a Zombie Apocalypse​ (cut out of photo).



"Office cats not practicing social distance, O'Malley (ginger cat), and Freya (gray cat.)" -Anne

Katrina's boys.

"My office space in our dining room/Barry’s art gallery/plant nursery from my campus office.  Notice the sustenance items I added just for your amusement (M&M’s and Diet Coke)." -Nancy

Jimmi's granddaughter's art.




Sewing Face masks with cat helpers, Roman (tabby) and OMalley (ginger cat). -Anne



Katrina is homeschooling her boys.




"This is Leia. She’s a super sweet girl who meows at me most mornings while I check my email." -Amanda



#WeAreNotBored -Jimmi



"This is my current home office, though sometimes I’ll move to the kitchen for a change of scenery." -Amanda



"This floof is Winston. He most often hangs out with Jose in his office." -Amanda



"In the later part of the afternoon, I work from my back patio." -Hope



"My co-worker, Barry.  During his off-hours, he’s been doing a lot of painting." -Nancy



"In the later part of the afternoon, I work from my back patio.  The smell of jasmine fills the air." -Hope



"Found the perfect wine..." -Jimmi




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