Miguel Panao | Professor and Author

Finding ways to improve scientific writing and academic productivity.

Small gestures

Yesterday I experienced the power of mentoring in my classes. Before I was sad with the lack of commitment of my students, and I wondered what could I do to engage them.

First I recognized my failure. If they weren’t engaged, I wasn’t persuasive enough. But then I decided to make a small gesture, and ask each one – ” how are you doing with the exercise?” – and till the end of the class I assisted something extraordinary: engagement.

But I saw more. Today, I follow the same intuition and one of my students was really off. I tried my best to mentor her, but it wasn’t enough. I allow some space but kept mentoring everyone. When I went back to my desk after this first round, I looked at this student and saw her colleagues helping her, and they looked respectful of her emotional state. I saw pure accountability.

At the end of the class, she wasn’t the same. And I had to say time was up because everyone was deep working.

Small gestures are powerful and can make a difference when you least expect.

About Miguel Panao

I am a Professor at the University of Coimbra in Mechanical Engineering. I am also author of books in the fields of environmental ethics and Science and Religion. From the several research projects, this site is personal and dedicated to the search for the best approaches, tools, techniques to improve scientific productivity.

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