Category Archives: Resources

4 Ways to Teach Your Kids About Work (Without Adding More to Your Plate)

by Sabina Nawaz*

As a leader, you probably juggle many things at work and at home. You’re not alone. Most executives I coach struggle with balancing parenting and work duties. They worry that they aren’t spending enough time with their children, and they’d like to help their children learn from their experience and avoid mistakes they’ve made.

What if you could maximize your time by making progress on work challenges while spending time with your children and helping them learn important skills in the process? Given my own challenges with balancing multiple priorities, I’ve learned a few ways to make the most of my time with both work and family, and I’ve shared these tips with my clients, many of whom have adopted similar practices. And the tips don’t take any additional time. In fact, you can increase time with your children without losing work time or adding more to your already full plate. By doing things a bit differently, you benefit your task list, your children, and yourself.

Here are four ways you can spend time with your kids while getting work done and teaching them important lessons along the way.

Practice time management together. One of your primary jobs as an executive is to anticipate the future and set a course to achieve success. This often takes concentrated time, away from the demands of back-to-back meetings. Many executives I coach take two hours a week to create white space. But unless you plan well in advance, it’s hard to find two hours of contiguous time each week.

Starting when he was eight years old, my older son would sit down with me once a quarter and help me block out white-space time for the next quarter. We would also block out time for vacations, shows, and volunteering. Because we carve out this time together, it helps me maintain a stronger boundary for family time. By helping me, my son appreciates the variety of my job responsibilities, not just what he sees from videos of my keynote talks. He’s also learned how to plan ahead to create balance and dedicate time to think strategically, and he’s picked up some other time management tricks. As a result, he creates time blocks on his calendar to ensure he has enough time for large projects that can’t be done in one sitting. It has reduced the amount of last-minute drama in our household.

Teach leadership ideas through reading. Harry Truman once said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” I’m much better at reading lots of books than at remembering lots of information from those books. Therefore, as I read each book, I tag passages that I’d like to go back to later. My sons compile all the tagged sections into one document. They curate my notes because I pay them, but you can also involve your kids by creating a game or competition such as answering trivia questions from the books at the dinner table. After all, these aren’t books they’d willingly pick up. Not only does this save me time and help me retain what I’ve read, but it also teaches my children at an early age about leadership topics from expert authors. Yesterday our dinner table conversation included the benefits of having mirror neurons and showing empathy when we want to improve our influence skills. It was a direct outcome of the book one of my sons is currently working on.

Explore values through discussing real-life dilemmas. Last month I struggled with a situation at work in which, if I acted according to my values, I would risk losing a large percentage of my revenue. It would be easy to pretend with my children that everything was business as usual. However, it wasn’t easy on my sleep. As I struggled with what to do, my husband and I discussed the dilemma (while protecting confidential information) with our boys. We laid out the situation, which values it was violating, and the potential risks of upholding my values. It was a difficult choice, but I decided to act in favor of my values.

I’d forgotten about the event until my older son said to me the other day, “Mom, I want to have integrity in how I talk to my science fair partner.” Curious, I asked, “What does integrity mean to you?” and was surprised to hear him remind me, “Mom, you always say integrity is doing the right thing when nobody is looking.” Having an open discussion about a work struggle benefited my son in a way I hadn’t anticipated.

Help children learn to frame problems in multiple ways. A common way that my coaching clients struggle is when they make assumptions about their adversary’s motivations during an interpersonal conflict and choose destructive actions based on that one conclusion. For example, Raymond, a tech executive, was recently convinced that his peer Jay wanted to discredit him and take over his team. Raymond jumped to this conclusion because Jay had interrupted during his presentation about his new project in front of the CEO. Rather than assume the worst of Jay, I told Raymond, he should lean into his natural tendency for storytelling and create not one but three separate stories about what Jay’s motivations could be. Raymond’s alternative stories were that perhaps Jay was very excited by Raymond’s idea and wanted to add his own ideas to it, or that Jay was less aware of interpersonal interactions and was someone who tended to interrupt others as well. This allowed Raymond to confront his assumptions and examine other possibilities.

You can share this tactic with your children as a game my family calls Multiple Meanings. We take turns creating stories from observations of people and events on trips to and from school. For example, if we see a man walking rapidly on the sidewalk with tattooed arms and a sleeveless vest, we might make up a story that he’s late for work because his car broke down, so he’s walking fast to get help. Maybe he owns a tattoo parlor across the bridge and is a walking advertisement for his business. Or maybe he’s meeting someone in the park and is running late. Our children then use the skill when they’re upset about something at home or at school. This is especially helpful when my sons argue and come to me for mediation. To reduce the heat in the conflict, I ask: “What other meanings can you make about why your brother borrowed your Lego airplane?” The goal is to be able to calm themselves down and be more empathetic, so they approach someone else with curiosity instead of judgment.

We spend a lot of our waking hours working. We also invest a lot in educating our children on academic subjects, physical activities, and the arts. But we treat these two activities separately. By involving our children in our work activities, we can teach our children key skills from our own experience, while maintaining quality time both at work and at home.

*Sabina Nawaz is a global CEO coach, leadership keynote speaker, and writer working in over 26 countries. She advises C-level executives in Fortune 500 corporations, government agencies, non-profits, and academic organizations. Sabina has spoken at hundreds of seminars, events, and conferences including TEDx and has written for FastCompany.comInc.com, and Forbes.com, in addition to HBR.org. Follow her on Twitter.



The Conference Notebook – A tool to help you get more out of the professional conferences you attend.

By Amy Strage, PhD  San José State University

Excerpted text: “A word about the purpose of this workbook.  Over the years, I have had the opportunity to attend many, many professional conferences.  In some instances, I contributed to the formal program in some way.  In others, I had the good fortune to just be there just to learn.  In virtually every instance, I did my best to immerse myself in the moment, attending sessions, engaging in animated and thoughtful conversation, taking notes, collecting business cards and handouts.  But all too often, the conference “high” dissipated quickly as I returned to business-as-usual.  As I look back, one thing is quite clear: regardless of my role or responsibilities at the gathering, I benefitted much more from the experience when I had (read “made”) the time to prepare and follow through.  Isn’t this exactly what we encourage our students to do, to get the most out of their educational opportunities?

Main advice provided (I recommend reading the whole posting for full benefit):
I – To ensure that you get the most out of the conference, PREPARE, DO YOUR HOMEWORK, AND BE INTENTIONAL… “Short exercises in advance of the conference
II – To ensure that you get the most out of the conference, REACH OUT… DON’T BE SHY NETWORK …” Structure to identify key contacts

III – To ensure that you get the most out of the conference, REFLECT AND FOLLOW THROUGH…” Structure to align intent with follow up
Thank You Note (You’ve probably already thought to do this, but in case it’s slipped your mind…)
Happy Conferencing and Networking!

Track Your Resistance

Text by Kerry Ann Rockquemore, PhD, president and CEO of the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity, from the posting of August 1, 2016 in her Monday Motivator series.


Time to visit the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL)?

New faculty receive a fair amount of information about teaching during orientation. However, once in the classroom, you learn first-hand about Michigan Tech students, teaching expectations, what works and (frustratingly) what doesn’t.  You may also be pushed to expand your teaching repertoire with opportunities to teach a larger class, a technology or project-based class, or even to teach online. 

The William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (ctl@mtu.edu, 487-3000), on the second floor of the Van Pelt and Opie Library, helps with all dimensions of your teaching endeavors. We provide resources and support as you implement specific teaching methods or use new teaching technology in new, exciting ways! 

Walk-in consultations are available Monday through Friday from 10 AM to 4 PM, or you can schedule an appointment to discuss a topic of your choice. You can request a recorded or live observation of your classroom to get feedback and suggestions, or if you know of some new technique you’d like to try out, the CTL can provide resources, references, equipment, and ideas. From the very low-tech (effective whiteboard use, syllabus review, or paper response systems) to “flipping” classrooms, to effective teaching in an online course, instructors in all disciplines find the CTL to be a valuable partner. 

Many newer faculty find it difficult to allocate the time needed for effective teaching, especially to effectively assess student progress without being overwhelmed by grading. The CTL can help you explore informal, time-efficient methods of in and out of class response and grading systems. Its close partner, the Michigan Tech Testing Center (techtesting-l@mtu.edu, 487-1001) helps provide computerized or bubble-sheet exams, as well as assisting with management of the increasing number of students who need accommodations or makeup exams.

At least twice each month during academic terms, the CTL also holds instructional developmental events (“Coffee Chats” and “Lunch and Learns”.) If you haven’t yet been to one, I strongly encourage you to sign up and attend. Even if the topics aren’t a perfect match, these events provide a great chance to network with a large number of excellent instructors from across the university to get ideas and support.  And the free food certainly doesn’t hurt!)

Your relationship with the faculty you meet at these events and the CTL is unique in that it’s purely supportive. Many instructors use the CTL staff to help interpret end-of-term course evaluations to focus ideas for improvement, or even to discuss departmental challenges. You can document your observation, teaching innovation, or professional development events as part of your continuous teaching improvements. The CTL can help document your efforts as part of your T&P packet, or your work with the CTL can remain entirely confidential, at your discretion.

There’s no question that teaching today is challenging and demanding. Many students carry high expectations, and it’s often hard to meet them, especially given the other demands on your time. Rather than trying to shoulder this burden alone, I encourage you to collaborate with the CTL! Let us know how we can help you to continue to improve your teaching and effective interactions with students.

Michael R. Meyer
Director – William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning
Michigan Technological University

Use Prerequisite Exams to Help Get Your Course off to a Good Start

Text drawn from R.M. Felder and R. Brent, Teaching and Learning STEM: A Practical Guide, pp. 60–61.

When you teach a course that builds heavily on previously-taught material, you have a dilemma. Should you assume that all of the enrolled students start out with a solid grasp of the prerequisites? You’d better not! Some students may have taken the prerequisite courses years ago and have long since forgotten what they learned, or some of the prerequisite content may be really hard or was rushed through so few students really understood it. On the other hand, you don’t want to spend the first three weeks of the course re-teaching material the students are supposed to know. The question is, how can you help your students quickly pick up whatever they’re missing without spending a lot of valuable class time on it?


Review Panel Information

by Dave Reed, ddreed@mtu.edu
The American Statistical Association has worked with NIH and NSF to encourage statisticians to participate in the panel review process.  The first link below is a Google Form for nominations to be on NIH panels.  The second link is to an NSF page where people can volunteer for panels, and the third is a link to a general document that describes the process, how to get involved, and things to consider when reviewing a proposal.  The first is specific to statisticians, but the second two are general and are suitable for all disciplines.

NIH Funding Review Panel Nominations

NSF – volunteer for panels

Serving effectively on funding review panels:  advice for statisticians new to the process


Incorporating STEM Education & Outreach into your Research & NSF Broader Impacts

Joan Chadde, jchadde@mtu.edu Director for Science & Environmental Outreach

Greetings, members of the ECM community! We hope your spring semester is off to a great start. As you continue to look for potential National Science Foundation or other state and federal agency funding, you will likely come across the need to incorporate K-12 education / outreach in your project proposal.

I’d like to introduce you to the work of the Center for Science & Environmental Outreach (CSEO), which has a wide range of experience developing and delivering K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs, along with many environmental education programs. These are for students and teachers in Houghton County, the western U.P., statewide in Michigan, the Upper Midwest/Great Lakes region, and some programs are even disseminated nationally, such as the Family Engineering Program!

Established in 1991 and wholly grant-funded, the Center offers programs focused on enhancing the teaching and learning of STEM for K-12 students, teachers, and community members. The Center’s diverse programs include Outdoor Science Investigations Field Trips, Family Science & Engineering events, After School STEM Classes & Summer Camps, Water Festival, Girls & Engineering and other programs to increase under-represented students in STEM, K-12 teacher professional learning, and Western UP Science Fair & STEM Festival. Programs are created and delivered by the Center’s education staff and we also partner with Michigan Tech faculty who wish to conduct modules/short courses/etc. with our target audiences. The Center’s programs engage ~15,000 students, teachers, and community members annually so it is a great place to broadly disseminate your hands-on / interactive ideas!

And the good news is that you don’t need to figure out logistics!  The Center has a menu of education / outreach ideas with an estimated cost for each. These ideas should pique your creativity and then you can set up a meeting with CSEO staff to customize an offering to your research broader impacts.

The Center is located at the Great Lakes Research Center where it takes full advantage of the learning lab/classroom and other spaces to deliver a wide range of programs. There are 4 full-time staff with a range of experiences, from science, social studies, environmental education GIS, technology, geoheritage, citizen science, and organizing large and small events. The Center’s expertise way outpaces the links on this page: https://blogs.mtu.edu/cseo/

CSEO Overview and Outreach Menu


What’s Holding You Back (in your Research and Writing)?

This valuable post on Tomorrow’s ProfessorSM eNewsletter by Kerry Ann Rockquemore, PhD, president and CEO of the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity begins with “At this point in the term, it’s an ideal time to stop and evaluate your progress… by gently asking yourself several important questions:
  • How is the term going so far?
  • How much writing have I completed? 
  • Have I developed a daily writing routine?
  • How am I progressing towards the goals on my strategic plan? and
  • How do I feel about my answers to the previous questions?”
The post goes on to provide practical advice to classify the areas that hold you back so you can intentionally make adjustments for the rest of the semester.  “Most academics’ productivity is blocked by some combination of what Julie Morgenstern describes as technical errors, psychological obstacles, and external realities.”  The technical errors are easiest to fix; those and external realities are usually cited to others for lack of progress.  In my own career, I’ve found my own psychological attitude to be the key challenge and also to undermine my ability to deal with external realities and technical errors.  This is a wonderful post to read and discuss in your ECM meetings this month.   Have a great, productive and rewarding semester! – Adrienne

Diverse Dialogues: “Thinking Outside the Box: Understanding Identity and Intersectionality”

by Amy L. Howard, Center for Diversity & Inclusion

What does diversity mean and why does it matter?

Join us at noon Monday, February 12, 2018 in MUB Ballroom B1 for our first Diverse Dialogues to engage in meaningful campus dialogue around topics of diversity and inclusion. Bring your own lunch, light refreshments and beverages will be provided.

This guided conversation will allow individuals to discuss the meaning of diversity and explore the multiple diversities that exist. Individuals will work to identify the relevance of their own cultural and social identities and leave with an enhanced understanding of how to embrace diversity in order to work more effectively across difference at Tech and within their respective communities.

The Diverse Dialogues series aims to provide opportunities for students, faculty and staff to have conversations about relevant issues of equity, diversity, inclusion, social justice and much more. They are designed to be an informal, yet guided gathering to allow participants to educate and learn from one another. While each dialogue in the series has a centralized theme, we want to encourage participants to determine where the conversations go. This series is meant to start the discussion on difficult topics and implore individuals to push their awareness, knowledge and action related to themes of diversity and inclusion.