I would be lying if I said that I’ve always loved whole class, push-in therapy. As a clinical fellow, a few years ago, when I saw “push-in” written in a box on my premade schedule I was nervous. I didn’t feel like I was prepared at all.
I was a new therapist in a new school working with new teachers at a grade level that I had never worked with before: grades 6-8 in middle school. Yikes, right? Not anymore! Over the last few years, I’ve come to love the whole class push-in and I have really learned to make it my own depending on students’ needs and teacher buy-in!
How to Get Started
Whole class, push-in therapy all boils down to one thing: collaboration. I work closely with language arts teachers at levels ranging from self-contained teachers to resource room teachers. If I want the therapy to be effective, I need to make sure that we are all on the same page. I sit with those teachers during the schedule-making process and decide on a day and time that’s beneficial for all. We decide if I will jump in on their lesson, if they want me to bring a lesson, or if we want to be flexible week-to-week.
I’m in the classroom….Now what?
Because I’ve built great relationships with the teachers that I work with, they typically give me full reign for about 30 minutes during a class period. Depending on the activity that I’m targeting during pull-out speech therapy, I will pick a game or activity that builds on it. A real fan favorite for the students are competition games. I divide classes into teams and encourage collaboration. I may target describing and comparing and contrasting by giving them two words and 10 minutes to complete a venn diagram.
Typically, the teacher and I will each support a team, walk them through different ways to describe using Expanding Expression Tool (EET) or provide some clues! I’ve also done something similar by providing a group of words and having them come up with as many synonyms or antonyms for them as possible. I’ve also provided kids with prefixes or suffixes and asked them to come up with as many words as they can. The kids love the competition and working together, and goals are practiced! A win-win for everyone.
Recently, I’ve come across an awesome idea that I’m putting into practice in which my push-in group is creating a school-wide service project (Shout out @kellyconover.highschoolslp on instagram). We are only in the beginning stages, but I’m having students research an area of need in our community, answer comprehension questions from a charity’s website, and practice syntax, grammar, and informational writing through sign-making to hang around the school! A work in progress, but it’s building on speech and language goals while also working on building empathy and drive to help those who need it.
The Big Picture
When all is said and done, our goal as therapists is to teach the skills and then help students to generalize those skills into the “real” world outside of those 4 walls of your therapy room. Above all else, the opportunity to see students in a more natural environment, like a classroom, can provide wonderful information like…
Is the student using what’s been targeted during pull-out therapy?
Is the student advocating for themselves?
Does the teacher need tips and tricks on modifying a task for a student?
Are there areas that the student requires more support in that were not previously noted?
Push-in therapy can be so beneficial as long as there is successful collaboration, student engagement, and a little bit of fun!