Competency 8:

Develop positive and supportive connections with students and colleagues, building professional learning networks

Making personal connections with students and colleagues is crucial to developing healthy and trusting learning environments. It is important to get to know all of your students in a variety of ways, to know what their learning and personal strengths are, to think about ways that each student can be supported in their learning, and ways that you can help each student to be successful.

  • Create a respectful and safe learning environment. Even when dealing with inappropriate behavior, always consider the dignity of the student.
  • Actively teach social skills. Create opportunities for success by teaching students how to avoid misbehaviours and how to interact positively with others.
  • Support students in risk-taking ventures; encourage them to develop their own skills and provide a supportive environment to enable them to do so.
  • Show interest and pride in your students. Ask students about their accomplishments, and create lessons around student interests.
  • Make personal contacts with students you meet in hallways and classrooms; start conversations and ask them questions about themselves and their work.
  • Adapt your lessons to meet the needs and interests of all students in the class, both in content and teaching strategies. Enable all students to become actively engaged in their learning, to make choices that support their own learning needs.
  • Find out the interests of your students, by having them complete student information forms, listening to the students’ conversations, talking with the students’ other teachers and with their parents. Incorporate what you know into classroom lessons and activities.


  • What experiences have you had making connections with learners and colleagues?  What worked?
  • Which of these strategies have you seen at schools? Which others have you seen or experienced? 
  • How do learners and colleagues who feel acknowledged and supported demonstrate this?  How does it look if they aren’t?
  • Describe the best experience you’ve had in a classroom. What made it so good?
  • Describe the worst experience you’ve had in a classroom. What did you learn?
  • How do communication, cultural responsiveness, making connections and collaboration inform one another?