The elements and attributes that make up the qualities of compassionate leader/student relationships are no different from any other relationships. Fundamental to those qualities is the Golden Rule of Matthew 7:12 – especially when we consider the importance and value of instilling within students the character trait of Compassion. Reflection is core to the Golden Rule, and it is that same practice that trusted school leaders model for their students. They model the embodiment of Compassion for others. This, of course, takes time and a large amount of patience.
Modeling and teaching reflection before action requires leaders to view their mentor role above all other roles and concerns; taking priority over other pressing matters when the opportunities for direct mentoring occur. For example, the most effective time to teach and model Compassion, or the values of respect and responsibility, is precisely when unpredictable teaching moments arise. Therefore, effective mentors pause, view the opportunity to model, and guide the student through the life lesson in that moment as their single most important responsibility.
Students need to learn to be compassionate, “not because they expect something or recognition in return but because their innate sense tells them to do it. Not because they live in fear of punishment but because they recognize the positive standards they are setting within themselves as a more gratifying, as well as self-reliant way to engage the world.” Trusted school leaders, who model Compassion through thoughtful reflection prior to taking action, can foster this type of reflection in students.
©2017 Toby A. Travis, Ed.D.
 T. A. Scandura, “Dysfunctional Mentoring Relationships and Outcomes,” Journal of Management 24, no. 3 (1998): 449-467.
 Sally Jolivette Barton-Arwood, “Mentoring with Elementary-Age Students,” Intervention in School & Clinic 1, (2000): n. pag.
 Wendy Davis, Respect Rocks: A Behavior Program for Teaching Your Children Respect & Responsibility (Seattle: Amazon Digital Services LLC, 2013), 196-198, Kindle.