Service delivery models have changed substantially over the last few years. While small pull-out groups are appropriate in many situations, keeping students in their classrooms is more of a priority than it has been in the past. As SLPs, we are often told by administrators that we should be "pushing-in" to general education, and providing services in the classroom.
At Speech Language Literacy Lab, we don't think there is a one-size fits all model for push-in services. We do believe that successful push-in requires communication and collaboration with teachers, and that it is feasible to be in the classrooms even with our limited time. Here are some different models that we've found work in our setting.
Mini Lessons to Support Tier 1: The SLP cycles through classrooms, leading in-class activities for a limited number of weeks. We've found that 30 min lessons for 4-6 weeks per classroom works best in our setting. The goal of these lessons is to model language strategies for the teacher, so that Tier 1 instruction is strong for all students. Sample lessons have included summarizing narratives using the MindWings Story Grammar Marker or building vocabulary and word relationships using the Expanding Expressions Toolkit organizer.
The key to scheduling is taking your students with you. These mini-lessons can happen at the time of a normally scheduled speech/language session, and the time counts as minutes toward an IEP. If some of the students in the group are in another class, they can be pulled into the whole group lesson for those few weeks.
While this may feel as "lost" time, since the identified IEP student is not getting small group intervention, there are many benefits. First, the students get to practice their speech/language goals with models from their typical peers. Second, teachers watching these lessons learn to carry-over strategies ALL YEAR LONG, EVERY DAY. This strengthens instruction for all students. It also creates a shared language of instruction from classroom to the speech room. Sometimes, mini-lessons turn into other kinds of push-in as described below.
Co-Teaching: This type of push-in requires that the SLP and classroom teacher jointly plan. At first, this may require meetings before every session. However, we assure you that it does get much easier! A great example is Weekly Writing Centers. The SLP and teacher present a short 5-10 minute whole group activity on writing. During part of this time, the SLP may be watching. This is OK! By pre-planning, the SLP has provided the teacher with strategies and ideas for enriching class language. After a short lesson, the students break into groups in order to work. The SLP takes identified IEP students into her group. Again, students from other classrooms can be pulled to join the group during these lessons.
Center Rotation: In many preschools and elementary schools, teachers have daily or weekly center time. SLPs can push in by leading one of the centers. For example, while all the students are working on literacy stations, the SLP might be working on a language activity at one table in the room. When the SLP leaves, some students will have an independent task in lieu of the SLP support. Leading a center is probably one of the easiest ways to push-in, because it's basically like pull-out, just within the walls of the regular classroom. Students from other classes can be pulled into the group.
What are some ways to make this happen?
Shared Google Docs (Both users needs to have a google account). Create a shared document and import goal areas. At a weekly (eventually monthly) meeting, decide which activities to target, focusing on IEP goals. Then, divide up who will create activities for each goal. Meet once to finalize plans. Here is a picture of a shared google drive that we used with a preschool classroom teacher while running weekly one hour groups to meet the IEP minutes of all the students in the class.
Scheduling It is possible to provide push-in on a small scale with children in different classrooms on different schedules, but a few school-wide scheduling changes make push-in services more easy and effective. These include:
- Grouping Students with IEPs: At the beginning of the year, make a list of all the incoming students with IEPs in each grade. Work with the school administration, and advocate that children be grouped together as much as possible. For example, in our kindergarten program, we have one co-taught classroom with many of our students, another general education classroom with a group of students, and a third ELL classroom with the remainder of our students. By grouping students together, special education service providers, including SLPs, are more readily available for support services.
- Grade Levels Instructional Blocks: If all the teachers in one grade schedule literacy and math blocks at the same times weekly, the specialist can pull students from across classrooms into one classroom and provide in-class support.
What are some ways that you all have seen push-in services work?