Serve It Up!
Relationships Matter: What’s in Your Heart?

There's a new credit card commercial starring Jennifer Garner. The tagline of the commercial asks, "What's in your wallet?" The premise is that the credit card you choose to carry in your wallet defines the type of person you are. In the real world, defining who we are requires more than what we have and it is based on what we do. This week while engaging in my Twitter professional development, I came across a post by @educationweek that focused on equity. Simply stated, equity must be more than what we have and what we say we do. Rather it has to be a "reflection in our practice."  My question to twitter-verse was simply, "What does your practice reveal about you?"

Relationship-focused leaders matter.

  • Do your hiring practices and staff selections reveal that you value the contributions of all ages, races, and even appearances? Is your staff diverse?
  • Do you treat all of your colleagues the same? Do you greet and demonstrate concern for everyone no matter the degree posted on their wall, the team they are a part of, or position they hold?
  • Are you inclusive? Do you value the ideas and work of everyone even those with which you may disagree?
  • Do you believe in leading with your head, heart, and hands? Do you care about others and are you willing help with all facets of the organization even those you feel may be less than the position you hold?


My Personal Experience Answering These Questions

I once worked for a phenomenal principal who believed that there was nothing he wouldn't do to ensure that his students were happy and safe. On rainy days, I might find him mopping the foyer to ensure his students were able to enter the building safely. Pizza Hut pizza days were especially busy days for the cafeteria workers, and the lines grew quickly. On these days, the principal could be found with an apron and gloves helping to pass out pizza so that his students had enough time to eat during their lunch break and the cafeteria staff felt supported for the extra effort on this fun lunch days. A former colleague @VAeducatorRJW often tweets about #heartwork. One of his latest tweets reminded me of the importance of servant leadership.  

Whenever I think of leadership #heartwork, the image of my principal mopping the floors and passing out pizza comes to mind. He was a true servant leader. I aspire to become that model for those that I support and lead.

As teachers, relationships matter even more.

  • Is your classroom a positive environment where students believe they can succeed?
  • How do you let your students know that you care even before they step foot in your room?

My reflection to the above questions

@edutopia recently posted an article about the importance of greeting students at the door. I always embraced this philosophy. In addition to welcoming students, greeting students at the door provided me with an advance notice of students who may be coming to class with anxiety and stress; therefore, letting me know that today this child may need more support or attention than some of the other students. 

Equity can be visible. 

  • Does your classroom library represent the diversity of your students? 
  • Do you call on all students equitably?


My A-ha with Thinking about the Visibility of Equity

A famous quote by Stephen Covey reminds us that, "Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival- to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated." Education is not a field that one embarks on to become rich and famous, so what's in our wallet is really irrelevant. At the end of the day, how we embrace differences and show sincere concern for the social and emotional needs of both our colleagues and our students will always be more important than "what's in our wallet." As I begin to move into a month of thanks, I take this question, my memories, and my current professional learning with me as I continue to make sure I ask questions, notice, and prepare to share.


Dr. Monica Robinson has passionately served as a teacher, school administrator, and division administrator. She currently serves as the coordinator of academic support programs for K-12 students in Virginia Beach, where she also supports acceleration programs such as Advanced Placement and intervention programs such as READ 180 Universal and System 44. Monica believes educators have the moral obligation to forsake self and do what is in the best interest of the students they serve.