Push-in speech therapy, classroom-based intervention, or inclusion – whatever you call it, I love it and want you to love it just as much as I do! It saves me time and money, but most importantly, it helps me identify my students’ real struggles and provide them with the support they really need to succeed in school!
When I worked in a middle school, I did about 75% of my therapy in the classroom (both general education and special education classrooms). I was really able to make that happen thanks to structures already set up in my school.
When I started at my school that did mostly push-in speech therapy, a lot of these structures were already in place for me. So I’m not a miracle worker, I was just lucky to be in a district with these awesome supports and services already in place.
A Day in the Life of a Push-In Speech Therapist
I worked in a public school with 1200 students in grades 5-8. This school really emphasized inclusion. Maybe 10 students in each grade went to separate, remedial type classrooms at some point in the day, but we didn’t send students to other campuses and tried to keep everyone in the gen ed setting as much as possible.
Every class was co-taught by a variety of professionals – special ed teachers, paraprofessionals, OT, PT, ELL, and m! The students were used to teachers coming and going into their classroom, so there wasn’t much stigma associated with getting extra help!
About 75% of my therapy was in general education environment. Our district calculates our minutes each year to make sure we were doing most of our therapy in the gen ed environment in all the schools (even elementary!)
My day usually began with prep, while most of my students had specials or electives. In my district, we were guaranteed the same amount of prep time as teachers, which was two periods each day!
Next, I would go to see my 5th graders during a 2 hour chunk of time they have for literacy. I would poke into one classroom with my students to see if they were having an activity that I could support. The only activity I didn’t regularly support was read aloud time, but even then, sometimes I would find that some of my kids needed support then too! If one class wasn’t in a good place for me to come, I would bounce on in to the next class. I would try to spend 30 minutes in each class during that 2 hour chunk. The key is to be flexible! I would pull small groups, grab classroom work, and target their therapy goals using that activity.
If I can make a game into a therapy activity, I can make a classroom activity into a therapy activity! It’s pretty easy once we’re all there and focused.
Then I would have lunch!
After lunch, I liked to grab my artic students for a quick 5-10 minute drill burst to work on their sounds. I would only work in the classrooms on articulation if my kids were at the carryover stage. Otherwise, I’m a big believer in getting 100 quick good productions and moving on!
In the afternoons, I might push into social studies. I love to push in to social studies. At my school, social studies groups did plays every year, which I really loved because it’s perfect for practicing arctic or other targets while doing a play.
Sometimes I would even push into math classes in the afternoon as well!
Then we would have an ELT time, which is extended learning time, which other schools might call resource. So that’s when I would see my groups. These are pretty big groups (for me), so about 5 students at a time.
After ELT, I popped back over to 6th grade for some more of my pull out therapy. Sixth grade is in science and I’ve found that to be a really good time to pull out students if I need that extra time. Then we have another ELT at the end of the grade for those upper grades as well.
So, I had a 30 minute period for 5th grade and a 20 minute period in the afternoon for 6th grade and those were my only pull out times.
What Do I Do When I get to the classroom?
SLPs can do so much good in the classrooms. These are the tasks I find myself doing all the time!:
- Break things down
- Provide and use graphic organizers (teach the graphic organizer, a lot of students get them, but don’t know how to use them)
- Sentence stems and starters
- Work on their goals
- Break down vocabulary
- During writing and editing their work we work on sentence combining, using stronger adjectives, verb tense
- General language organization
- Reminders for social skills
- Support to navigate tricky social situations
- Real time reflection on social skills snafus
- Check ins – some of my students just have check in minutes, especially for arctic and fluency
What am I even targeting in the classroom?
Honestly, my goals are not very different if I’m writing for an inclusive setting or a pull-out setting. Time and experience has made me better at writing goals, with a focus on specific skills that can actually make an impact.
- Problem solving
- Self advocacy
- Following directions
- Social skills
The goals I developed for my speech therapy goal bank are all things that I worked on during push-in therapy!
How does data collection work in push-in speech therapy?
My daily data looked a little more like a SOAP not, in that I would describe the conditions, any prompts that were used, supports, graphic organizers, and how the student did.
For example, I might record that a student wrote 1 paragraph, given two sentence stems, 3 verbal prompts, and a pre-taught graphic organizer.
Or maybe the classroom activity was to choose a research topic. So we could look up research topics, read a little bit about each one and then the student could practice summarizing what he read. My data might say “student included all relevant details in 2 of 3 opportunities, and then list out what supports, cues, or prompts were needed.
This data is incredibly helpful because it shows you exactly what supports the student needs to be helpful in the classroom!
I take data using my google sheets templates that I use for keeping track of minutes, attendance, data, etc. Every day is one sheet.
My district did require more formal progress monitoring each month and so I would use SLPToolkit or maybe my own tasks that I make up consistent monthly progress monitoring.
What does an IEP look like?
I would just write out my minutes based on setting. So one student might get (2) 20-minute sessions in the general education setting, and (1) 20-minute session in the special ed setting.
I hope you found that helpful, or at least interesting to hear how one school is set up to do push in speech therapy.
This is my second post in my series about push-in speech therapy. Stay tuned next week when I help you work through some barriers to push-in therapy! I know you can do it!
Have you had experience with inclusive service models?