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Teaching is Always About the Kids

Every time I support colleagues first learning about the SIPPS program, I am reminded of a story once shared by my fabulous principal, Diane Herring. As she began her story, she took us back to her first classroom. She was a Kindergarten teacher and, like her students, she was full of energy and enthusiasm. She then began to recount one of her most powerful memories. Like all good teachers, she took care to meticulously plan all aspects of her lessons, from the materials, to the learning objectives to the procedures and the assessment. On one particular day she found herself in front of her bright-eyed Kindergartners, ready to deliver the lesson of all lessons. She began teaching, paying careful attention to her delivery, the pacing, and the flow of the lesson. After some time passed (how long she really wasn’t sure) she happened to glance out at her students and saw something that wasn’t in her lesson plan! Each little person in her room had removed his/her shoes and dangled one shoe from each ear. At sharing this surprising discovery, she laughed out loud and we, her staff, laughed right along with her!

To this day, I applaud Mrs. Herring for telling this story as her learning experience continues to serve as a powerful message for me as well. This story reminds me that teaching must always be about kids. Everything we do-from lesson planning to assessment to classroom learning experiences-is meaningless if we fail to keep our students front and center. That said, when learning something new, such as the SIPPS program, it is highly possible that you may find yourself feeling like my principal did many years ago. When I first began using the SIPPS program I found that much of my thinking was consumed by what I was doing in the lesson.

Thoughts filled my head, such as:

  • What prompt do I say for this routine?
  • How am I supposed to sweep my finger?
  • Do I sound and read the words with my students?
  • What visual do I use for this routine?
  • What materials go with this lesson?
  • Am I doing this right?

It wasn’t until I became intimately familiar with the materials, lesson routines, and the verbal and visual cues, along with the content and scope and sequence, that I was able to really focus on what is most important: my students! So if you are a new SIPPS user and you feel like all of your attention is directed towards learning your role in the lesson, know that you are not alone. This is normal when you are early in your SIPPS implementation. Give yourself some time (several weeks at least) to settle in to your role. Strive for automaticity with the materials, routines, and cues, because once you can deliver the lessons effortlessly, you will be able to focus deeply on your students. Automaticity with the lesson routines enables you to closely observe your students, strategically utilize correction procedures when students make any errors, and nudge your students closer and closer towards reading independence! Until then, be patient with yourself, celebrate all that you are learning, and take time to laugh at yourself even if you find that your students’ shoes are indeed on their ears rather than their feet. ☺

Remember to check out these resources to support your learning!

Check out The CCC Learning Hub designed to support 3rd edition users: ccclearninghub.org.

Sign into the Learning Hub. From the main page, scroll down until you see a “T” with a circle around it. Click on the “T” for video tutorial. The Tutorial can be found in the following categories:

  • Teacher Center Overview
  • SIPPS App
  • SIPPS Assessment App
  • SIPPS Card App

You can also click on the SIPPS level you are currently teaching to review general and lesson-specific resources. Go to the Select a Lesson drop down menu and scroll down to Appendix A: Routines. Here, you can watch the video and animation support for each routine.

At the top, click on the question mark (?) in a circle taking you to the Support Center. Check out the implementation supports under the Teacher Center section.

Reconnect with Ann Leon’s blog featuring the shifts from teacher practice to student learning.