Resources for Teachers and Instructional Coaches – December 2021

chalk drawing of lightbulb with text "Noted and Notable Content Resources for Teachers and Instructional Coaches December 2021"

It’s December, and we’ve rounded up this month’s top resources for teachers and coaches! This edition of noted and notable content for educators includes articles about instructional equity, managing multiple duties as a coach, resources for teachers on students’ emotional well-being, and successful PLCs.

Our top picks for important December reads are below, with the highlights, article links, and related content for you.

Instructional equity and student engagement go hand in hand

For Zaretta Hammond, author of Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, “equity is about making sure every student is a powerful learner.”

So what does true intellectual engagement look like for students and how can teachers create a classroom environment with a strong culture of learning?

This ASCD article provides Zaretta Hammond’s insights into the mistakes educators often make around student engagement, best practices for greater student curiosity, and the dangers of learning loss. Here are some of her insights:

I think one of the biggest mistakes we make, particularly for struggling students, who are disproportionately children of color, is that we employ a pedagogy of compliance. … There’s no complexity to the work. It lacks any real-life context to address the typical student question of “What’s the use of me learning this?”

By contrast, you could use something like place-based learning, where students are trying to solve a local problem—for example, a water issue in the community, or a land-erosion pattern, or even a problem like too much garbage in the cafeteria.

We have to create a community of learners. We have a tendency to focus on relationships and community-building as purely social—you know, the culture of the classroom, kids getting along, that sort of thing. But what we don’t do is create a set of studio habits for learning in community.

We have to instill community habits for growth in learning. Competence precedes confidence. When I’m a competent learner, I have the confidence to engage in intellectual endeavors that might stretch me, might confuse me, or might lead to productive struggle. That’s precisely what the science of learning tells us makes the brain grow and allows us to carry a greater cognitive load.

The reality is that students have unfinished learning. When we understand that this is unfinished subject-area learning, we see it’s not “learning loss.” Brains are learning machines. That is what they do. The reality is that all our students learned something during the pandemic.

So first we have to stop staying that students lost something, then we have to try to figure out what they did learn and use that as part of the schema that allows us to make connections.

Read more at ASCD: Zaretta Hammond on Equity and Student Engagement

Want more insights about educational equity from Zaretta Hammond? Check out our interviews with the culturally responsive teaching expert.

PLCs are successful when they’re built on shared values and reflection

Professional learning communities (PLCs) are an effective form of collaboration for educators. Resources for teachers are helpful, but it’s when they investigate and learn more about their instruction together that leads to student success.

This Edutopia post discusses the key features of successful PLCS and how to ensure they are an integral part of your school’s professional development. Here are the best practice highlights:

Shared values and vision

[Teachers and school leaders] have a common mindset and attitude when it comes to big issues like children’s rights, the environment, and the role of the individual in the community.


PLCs offer a support net that allows teachers to take risks and explore different paths for developing their teaching and learning skills and using innovative approaches and techniques to make learning more effective. Peer observation sessions are a good example of collaboration.

How school leaders can promote acceptance of the PLC

Take baby steps. Two or three times during the year—for example, at the beginning of the school year, before the winter break, and near the end of the year—guide the PLC to reflect on each member’s strengths and become aware of what they need to improve. If possible, choose one or two items, not more, to work on in the following months.

Read the full post at Edutopia: Fostering an Effective Professional Learning Community at Your School

And here are more resources for teachers about effective professional learning communities

Resources for teachers on supporting students’ emotional wellness

Educators promote student academic achievement, but often also must support students’ emotional wellness. Here are 3 strategies from SmartBrief to build a culture that supports students’ socio-emotional well-being.

Add book and video characters’ emotions to discussions about motivations, actions, plots and other subject matter.

Ask students what went well or didn’t go well with assignments or tests, what particular stressors they ran across. That helps them more deeply explore their emotions.

Don’t assume parents haven’t tried to reach out to the school before situations have devolved into disciplinary needs. They may have felt let down by earlier responses. Or they may not know about things we think they do.

Read more strategies and resources for teachers at SmartBrief: How to recognize, handle students’ emotional wellness woes

If you’re starting by building a strong foundation for supporting students, check out our blog post with 2 strategies for teachers who want a positive classroom environment.

Instructional coaches, you have too much on your plate — here’s how to  manage your time

Coaches are often the first called on to make up for teacher shortages. Maybe this means covering a class or taking on lunch duty. But with these “other duties as assigned”, what about the actual coaching work that get pushed to the side?

This Learning Forward article shares tips on how to manage the juggling act of “other duties” and increasing demand. Here are some highlights:

Meet with your principal or supervisor to review expectations and ask for guidance in prioritizing work. Ensure that your supervisor understands the time-intensive items on your list, and then ask for his or her input in prioritizing those items, as well as input about which smaller to-do’s can be shifted to others or temporarily put on hold.

Be transparent with teachers about your additional responsibilities and your priorities. Do so in a way that is informative and matter-of-fact, so they don’t perceive it as complaining. Make your schedule more visible.

Streamline your coaching. Create protocols and processes that lead to desired results and can be followed consistently even when you are not present to lead the work. Then trust people to follow them or adapt them as necessary.

Read all the tips at Learning Forward: How to coach while performing ‘other duties as assigned’

Want a more efficient way to provide coaching support and resources for teachers? Edthena makes it easy to watch teaching and provide feedback.

Missed last month’s edition of our Noted Content? Catch up on our November top resources for teachers and coaches


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