Today, Carrie Kaelin shares her experience with push-in therapy within the regular classroom setting.
The scene: You are developing an IEP. You have written a fantastic PLEP, even remembering to include baseline data (right?), and have formulated the perfect goal and objectives (right?). You continue on, checking all boxes correctly, etc. Finally you make it to the LRE and the Special Education / Related Services sections. You glance at the little ‘Location’ box. Maybe you consider typing ‘Regular Classroom’, wait… WHAT? Are you NUTS? You quickly banish the thought!
Most of us have tried delivering services in the classroom and have not-so-fond memories of it. Words that come to mind: Silent Observer, Tutor, Awkward, Sans Data. This school year I found myself in a situation that made me have to give this model another look.
One of my 3rd grade students, “Hero”, didn’t like being pulled from class for his therapy session. He enjoyed the session once he was there, but getting there was the problem. He would see me at his classroom door, his head would fall a bit, and then he would lumber past his peers, out the door to receive special help that they didn’t need. In addition to this issue, Hero was struggling with his academics (no ECE resource help), and therefore needed to be in class as much as possible. The committee discussed all of this and decided it may be better for Hero to receive his language therapy services in the classroom. Wh – Wh –What? Oh my. But honestly, I was up for the challenge and really wanted it to work.
They say timing is everything. Generally mine is the pits but in this case I knew I had to get it right. I asked Hero’s Language Arts teacher (who is fantastic) about the flow of the morning and observed the classroom routine in action. This was important. I wanted to choose the best time to be in the room. My school is known for self-directed learning; the students do quite a bit of independent and small group work, and this has been fairly conducive to me being a part of the mix.
During my time in the classroom the students are usually either doing partner-reading or working independently in their workbooks. Whatever material the class is using becomes the therapy material for the session. Eureka! What could be better? The curricular vocabulary is right there with each chapter in their Journeys book and there are beautiful illustrations that we use for picture description tasks.
We have also used materials such as the National Geographic Kids Magazine, and classic books such as Because of Winn-Dixie. So far things are going well. Hero seems to like that I am in the room helping him and along the way I am discovering many unexpected ‘pluses’ of being in the classroom!
A list of pros that I have noted thus far:
*You form a better relationship with the teacher.
*You become more familiar with skills being taught at that grade level.
*You become familiar with the classroom routine.
*You have access to pertinent, core content materials.
*You can observe how the student’s communication disorder is adversely impacting him/her in the classroom.
*The teacher can take a restroom break, b/c there is another adult in the room. J
*You can observe how other students on your caseload who are in the class are doing, and cue them for carryover.
*You come to know the other children in the classroom and observe peer dynamics.
*You get to meet the class pet! J
This is Snickerdoodle……very cute!
It’s not always rosy of course. Every now and then things do feel slightly awkward, like I’m a bit out of place…. but this happens less and less as time goes on. This model does not work for all students, or all classrooms, or all SLP’s schedules. The stars do need to align to some degree. If they do, I encourage you to try service delivery in the classroom.
I would suggest that you discuss it with the teacher and try it out a couple of times before the IEP meeting (be sure to document why you were in the classroom). Then, if it feels like it would be a good fit, go for it!
Carrie H. Kaelin, MS-CCC/SLP